JVARI/MCXETA/GORI/Uplistsikhe

price from $250/330/550

    JVARI

    Jvari Monastery stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta, which was formerly the capital of the Kingdom of Iberia.

    According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. The cross was reportedly able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over the Caucasus. A small church was erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in c.545 named the “Small Church of Jvari”.

    The present building, or “Great Church of Jvari”, is generally held to have been built between 590 and 605 by Erismtavari Stepanoz I. This is based on the Jvari inscriptions on its facade which mentions the principal builders of the church: Stephanos the patricius, Demetrius the hypatos, and Adarnase the hypatos. Professor Cyril Toumanoff disagrees with this view, identifying these individuals as Stepanoz II, Demetre (brother of Stepanoz I), and Adarnase II (son of Stepanoz II), respectively.

    MCXETA

    Mtskheta (Georgian: მცხეთა [mtsʰxɛtʰɑ]) is a city in Mtskheta-Mtianeti province of Georgia. One of the oldest cities of Georgia, it is located approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Tbilisi at the confluence of the Aragvi river.

    Due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments, the “Historical Monuments of Mtskheta” became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. As the birthplace and one of the most vibrant centers of Christianity in Georgia, Mtskheta was declared as the “Holy City” by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014.

    GORI

    Gori, 80km west of Tbilisi, has long been synonymous with just one man: this is the town where Stalin was born and went to school. The large Stalin Museum is Gori’s best known attraction, but there are also some fascinating older sights, notably Uplistsikhe cave city, nearby.

    In the 2008 war over South Ossetia (whose border reaches within 13km north of Gori), Gori was bombed by Russia, with at least 20 civilians killed, and most of the population fled before the town fell under Russian control for 10 days. Rows of single-storey refugee houses visible at Tserovani on the Tbilisi–Gori highway, and on Gori’s northern edge, are reminders of that war.

    The centre of town is the wide Stalinis moedani (Stalin Sq). The main street, Stalinis gamziri (Stalin Ave), runs 600m north from here to the large Stalin Museum. The bus station is 500m west of Stalinis moedani, along Chavchavadze.

    Uplistsikhe

    This fascinating and once enormous cave city sits 10km east of Gori above the north side of the Mtkvari River, with expansive views along the Mtkvari valley. Between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD, Uplistsikhe developed into one of the chief political and religious centres of pre-Christian Kartli, with temples dedicated principally to the sun goddess. After the Arabs occupied Tbilisi in AD 645, Uplistsikhe became the residence of the Christian kings of Kartli and an important trade centre on a main caravan road from Asia to Europe. At its peak it housed 20,000 people. Its importance declined after King David the Builder retook Tbilisi in 1122 and it was irrevocably destroyed by the Mongols in 1240. What you visit today is the 40,000-sq-metre Shida Qalaqi (Inner City), less than half of the original whole. Almost everything here has been uncovered by archaeologists since 1957.

    TOUR OPTIONS

    BUS — CAPACITY OF 1/55 PERSON + GUIDE
    MINI BUS — CAPACITY OF 1/18 PERSON + GUIDE
    MINIVAN – CAPACITY OF 1/6 PERSON + GUIDE