From the 6th century Jvari monastery we made our way to the 11th century Svetitiskhoveli Cathedral-very difficult to pronounce and meaning Life giving pillar.Our airbnb host Teolina and her friends George and Irakli accompanied us.This is the second largest church in Georgia and is a symbolic copy of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem .This is also supposed to be the place where Christ’s mantle is kept .My knowledge of christanity is very limited and I wish I had done some research.
There is a narrow street leading to the site dotted with souvenir shops,fancy restaurants, vegetable vendors and pretty houses.
There is a fort surrounding the church.
Though it was a sunday the church was not crowded.It has impressive frescoes,tombs and icons.The cathedral was the site of coronation of the Georgian kings and also was their burial site.Only three tombs have been found so far.I could see a few ladies praying in front of the altar .I did not see pews in any of the churches in Georgia.The serene and silent atmosphere was overpowering.
Teolina took me aside saying that she has something interesting to show and she asked me to look up at the external wall.After much squinting I could see a hand with a chisel and that is supposed to symbolise the unfortunate architect Arsukidze .The story goes like this-a priest who was the teacher and patron of the architect was so jealous of his success that he influnced the King to have his right arm chopped off.
Yet another folklore like Taj Mahal architects?