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World Heritage Site

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The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta are three medieval religious buildings in the former capital of the East Georgian Kingdom of Kartli.

Here Georgians accepted Christianity in 317 and Mtskheta still remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.

The included monuments are:

- Jvari Monastery: a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery, standing on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers

- Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral: since long the principal Georgian church and presently functions as the seat of the archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi; The current cathedral was built in the eleventh century though the site itself dates back to the 4th century

- Samtavro Monastery: includes a church and nunnery, dating from the 11th century

Map of Mtskheta


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Bojana Bartol, Slovenia 15-Nov-13

This is the site really deserving of inscription. Historical significance of this place justifies its presence on WHS list. Beautiful Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari are highlights of this site, but it's worth to go for a stroll and see old streets of Mtskheta. The best way to get to this ancient town from Tbilisi is marshrutka: cheap and quite comfortable. I recommend to take a taxi from Mtskheta to see Jvari Monastery.

Jarek Pokrzywnicki Poland 31-Jul-13

Site visited just recently (July 2013). Mtskheta lies just outside Tbilisi city limits and is easily accessible by local marszrutka (from Didube bus station, quite frequent buses, approximately every 20-30 minutes, the whole journey takes similar time, ticket costs 1 Lari per person).

Mtskheta as a town (not more than 5 thousand inhabitants) is a small relaxing place, very quiet comparing to busy (and hot) Tbilisi, there are some private flats for rent (rooms) - full list of them available from local tourist information (just outside Svetitskhoveli Cathedral).

It is possible to visit all 3 places (Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Jvari and Samtawro monasteries) in one day but at least visit to Jvari requires some preparation. It can be reached by foot (ask for details at tourist info spot) or by taxi (count at least 20 Lari for both ways). All 3 places may as far be visited free of charge.

Emilia Bautista King, U.S.A. 27-Feb-06

I travelled to the Soviet Union in 1990. Georgia was part of the tour and Tblisi was my favourite city to visit, as the people were warm and friendly. We had also been to the hectic city of Moscow beforehand and the slower, peaceful pace of Tblisi was a welcome change. I don't remember much about Mtskheta but I have pictures of the site to prove I was there. But I do remember eating some wonderful hot bread (similar to a baguette) after the tour!

Solivagant UK

Mtskheta by Solivagant

Mtskheta is the ancient capital of Georgia and its Cathedral is the “capital” of the Georgian Church and the burial place of Georgian Kings. It only lies around 25kms outside Tblisi and, if you are in the country, should be seen. It is probably best taken in as part of a trip along the Georgian Military road towards Russia.

On the other side of the river, and easily accessible if you are coming from Tblisi in your own transport lies the Monastery of Djvari. This provides fine views across the valley to the town and cathedral which dominates it (photo).

The Cathedral is pleasant enough but, in my opinion, lacks the interest and fine siting of some other “churches” in Georgia – in particular Gelati (which is a WHS – see review) and 2 more which you can see along the Military road. These are (neither is even on the Tentative List)

a. The “Fortress Monastery” at Ananuri – beautifully situated by a lake (the dam which created this reservoir was, we were told, going to flood this church but, even in Soviet times, enough pressure could be brought upon the government to prevent this). It also has fine murals.

b. The Mtatsminda Zameta (Church of the Trinity) high on a windswept hill above the village of Kasbegi looking out to the snow capped peak of Mt Kazbeg (5033 mtrs). This is only accessible by foot or 4x4.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 3.00. Based on 6 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Historical Monuments of Mtskheta

Unesco ID: 708

Inscribed: 1994

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 3   4  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2016 - Removed from Danger list 
  • 2009 - In Danger Concerns over preservation (deterioration of stone work and frescoes)
  • 2005 - Name change From "City-Museum Reserve of Mtskheta" to "Historical Monuments of Mtskheta"
  • 1994 - Inscribed 


The site has 3 locations.

  • Mtskheta: Mtskhetis Jvari (The Church of the Holy Cross - Mtskheta) City of Mtskheta, Province of Mtskheta Mtianeti,
  • Mtskheta: Samtavro Church and Monastery Province of Mtskheta-Mtianeti,
  • Mtskheta: Sveti Tskhoveli Church City of Mtskheta, Province of Mtskheta-Mtianeti,


The site has 22 connections.


  • Tetraconch: The Jvari church is an early example of a "four-apsed church with four niches" domed tetraconch. (wiki)




Human Activity

  • Writing systems: "Of special significance are early inscriptions, which form a valuable reference in the study of the origins of the early Georgian alphabet."

Individual People

  • Pompey the Great: AB evaluation " The citadel (Armaz-tsikhe) of Great Mtskheta is located on the side of Bagineti mountain on the right bank of the river Mtkvari". Wiki "Armazi remained the holy city of Iberian paganism (Iberia = Caucasian Iberia, an ancient Georgian Kingdom) and one of the defenses of Mtskheta. The fortress was captured by the Roman general Pompey during his 65 BC campaign against the Iberian king Artag. A ruined structure over the Mtkvari River dates from that time and is still called "Pompey's bridge"."
  • Timur: Ravaged it in the 15th century

Religion and Belief

  • Cathedrals: Svetitskhoveli
  • Holy Tunic: Svetiskhoveli Cathedral ("The Living Pillar") is known as the burial site of Christ's khiton. Tradition holds that a Georgian Jew was present at the crucifixion and bought the khiton taking it back to Georgia. Miracles associated with the relic led to the building and naming of the Cathedral. The event is celbrated each Oct 1. Link
  • Introduction of Christianity: Christianity was brought to Mtskheta in the 4th century by St Nino, and became the official state religion in 334. The first wooden church was built in the palace garden, where the Svetitskhoveli church now stands.


  • Built in the 11th century: Cathedral and Samtavro date from the 11th century, there are also remains of 7th century churches


  • Located in a Former Capital: Georgia 3rd Century BC - 5th Century AD
  • Modelled after: A small copy of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built in the grounds of Svetiskhoveli Cathedral between the end of the 13th and the beginning the 14th centuries to mark it as the second most sacred place in the world (after the church of Jerusalem), thanks to Christ?s robe.

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World Heritage Process