Mtskheta: Polishing a Historic Jewel

Nearly everything looks as if it’s new. The town center is so perfectly ordered, it almost has a

The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and part of the historic town center that surrounds it. Scaffolding on some buildings indicates restoration projects that are still under way.

Disneyesque look. That will wear off in time, which, in my view, will add charm.

A typical house with a wooden balcony, in Mtskheta.

It also appears the town has some stylish new housing and will have more. My guess is that, given that Mtskheta and its setting are so attractive, especially with all the renovation work, the town is at the cusp of a growth spurt. It can’t hurt that it is within commuting distance of Tbilisi.

We walked past the pristine houses and shops to the cathedral, which is surrounded by 18th century walls, but with an 11th century entryway.

The cathedral building, which dates from the 11th and 15th centuries, stands on the site of the country’s first Christian church.

The 18th century walls that surround the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, seen from inside the church’s courtyard.

Svetitskhoveli was used for centuries for the coronation and burial of Georgian monarchs, including the fourth century king and queen who first accepted Christianity.

Our guide pointed out a 15th century fresco showing Christ surrounded by zodiac signs. One

Fifteenth century fresco showing Christ surrounded by zodiac signs, inside the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta.

does not often see that sort of thing in a Christian church!

When we stepped out of the building and into the Svetitskhoveli courtyard, we encountered a bride and bridegroom with members of their wedding party.

The bridegroom, wearing a traditional Georgian costume recalling times past, stands beside his bride with a very modern cell phone at her ear.

The two were posing for photos. The bridegroom was attired in a traditional Georgian costume, a long black coat with a dagger at his waist.

I was particularly amused by the juxtaposition of a bridegroom whose clothing recalled the past with a bride in modern dress with a cell phone glued to her ear.

We were advised it was likely the couple might have been married elsewhere and had come to the historic cathedral for photos after the wedding.

From here, we walked out of the town center to a string of souvenir shops and restaurant, near the parking lot.

After making a couple of gift purchases, I photographed the trinkets as a way to bring many more of them home with me.

A tourist restaurant, part of the shopping area that tourists encounter on leaving central Mtskheta.

The touring finished, we made the short drive back to Tbilisi. Our visit to the Georgian capital is discussed here.

The article and photos are by Nadine Godwin, the author of Travia: The Ultimate Book of Travel Trivia, which was published by The Intrepid Traveler.


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