Tales from Georgia-Heritage Trails

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.

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There is a fort  surrounding the church.

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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._DSC0278

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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.

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Yet another folklore like Taj Mahal  architects?

 

 

Tales from Georgia-Heritage Trails

There are four UNESCO heritage sites in Georgia and  we  had the chance to visit  the  Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral included in the hisorical monuments of Mtskheta.Mtskheta was the old capital of Georgia and it was from this  place that Christanity was  adopted as the state religion of Georgia.

Jvari Monastery was the first stop.It is about 20 km from Tbilisi and is on top of Mount Armazi.

According to legend Saint Nino   who brought  christanity to Georgia   erected a  wooden cross at this site and a church was built  over the remnants in c .545.IMG_5552027The entrance to the monastery

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From the top we can see the confluence of  Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers.

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I had  a feeling of deja vu.This is the  confluence of indus and zanskar rivers at Nimmu in Leh I had seen two years back.

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It was a cold windy day and we  could not stay long outside.Inside the church there were few worshippers..We also lit candles  and   stood in reverence .

Though the church looks well preserved it is facing damage from the  rains and strong winds and is  on the 100  Most Endangered Sites List of the World Monument Fund.

This monastery does not have impressive frescoes or statues like  most of the churches we saw in Tbilisi but it has its own simple charm.

Soon it was time to leave St.Nino  and go to the  first orthodox church  in Georgia.IMG_5554