one of the oldest cities of the country of Georgia (in Kartli province
of Eastern Georgia), is located approximately 20 kilometers north of Tbilisi
at the confluence of the Aragvi and Kura rivers. The city (population
19,423 as of January 1, 2008) is now the administrative centre of the
Mtskheta-Mtianeti region. Due to its historical significance and numerous
ancient monuments, the "Historical Monuments of Mtskheta" became
a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
Remains of towns at this location have been dated to earlier than the
year 1000 BC, and Mtskheta was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of
Iberia during the 3rd century BC – 5th century AD. It was the site
of early Christian activity, and the location where Christianity was proclaimed
the state religion of Georgia in 317. Mtskheta still remains the headquarters
of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.
King Dachi I Ujarmeli (beginning of the 6th century AD), who was the
successor of Vakhtang I Gorgasali, moved the capital from Mtskheta to
the more easily defensible Tbilisi according to the will left by his father.
However, Mtskheta continued to serve as the coronation and burial place
for most kings of Georgia until the end of the kingdom in the 19th century.
The old city lies at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi.
The rare blend of cultural values had ruled in this part of the world
since the Bronze Age until prosperous Christian era over the unique eclectic
lifestyle creating the mood of the town which is as old as the history
of Georgia. Mtskheta is the most religious city of Georgia as it has been
the shrine of pagan idols since times immemorial and it is where Christianity
in Georgia takes its origin.
Main article: Armazi
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (11th century, see photo) and Jvari Monastery
(6th century) in Mtskheta are amongst the most significant monuments of
Georgian Christian architecture, and are historically significant in the
development of medieval architecture throughout the Caucasus. Of special
significance are early inscriptions, which form a valuable reference in
the study of the origins of the early Georgian alphabet.
In the outskirts of Mtskheta are the ruins of Armaztsikhe fortress (3rd
century BC), the Armaztsikhe acropolis (dating to the late 1st millennium
BC), remains of a "Pompey's bridge" (according to legends built
by Roman legionnaires of Pompey the Great in 1st century BC), the fragmentary
remains of a royal palace (1st–3rd century AD), a nearby tomb of
the 1st century AD, a small church of the 4th century, the Samtavro Monastery
(11th century), and the fortress of Bebris Tsikhe (14th century). The
Institute of Archaeology, and the garden of Mikheil Mamulashvili are also
worthy of note.