Georgia : Historical Monuments of Mtskheta

Georgia- Historical Monuments of Mtskheta

The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta are located in the cultural landscape at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers, in Central-Eastern Georgia, some 20 km northwest of Tbilisi in Mtskheta. The property consists of the Jvari Monastery, the Svetitstkhoveli Cathedral and the Samtavro Monastery.

Mtskheta was the ancient capital of Kartli, the East Georgian Kingdom from the III century BC to the V century AD, and was also the location where Christianity was proclaimed as the official religion of Georgia in 337. To date, it still remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church.

The favourable natural conditions,  its  strategic  location  at  the  intersection  of  trade routes,  and  its  close  relations  with  the  Roman  Empire,  the  Persian Empire, Syria, Palestine, and  Byzantium, generated and stimulated the development of Mtskheta and led to the integration of different cultural  influences  with  local  cultural  traditions.  After  the VI century  AD, when the capital was   transferred   to   Tbilisi, Mtskheta  continued  to  retain  its  leading  role  as  one of the important cultural and spiritual centres of the country.

The Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Samtavro Monastery are key monuments of medieval Georgia. The present churches include the remains of earlier buildings on the same sites, as well as the remains of ancient wall paintings. The complex  of  the  Svetitskhoveli  Cathedral  in  the  centre of the town includes the cathedral church, the   palace   and   the   gates   of   the   Katolikos   Melchizedek  that  date  from  the  XI  century,  built  on the site of earlier churches dating back to the Vth  century.  The  cruciform  cathedral  is  crowned  with  a  high  cupola  over  the  crossing,  and  there  are  remains  of  important  wall  paintings  in  the  interior. The rich sculpted   decoration of the elevations dates from various periods over its long history. The small domed church  of  the  Samtavro Monastery was originally built in the IV century  and  has  since  been  subject  to  various  restorations.  The  main  church  of  the  monastery  was  built  in  the  early  XI  century.  It contains the grave of Mirian III, the King of Iberia who established Christianity as official religion in Georgia.

The  site  was  placed  on  the World  Heritage  List in  1994  and  on  the  List  of  World Heritage in Danger in 2009 due to the lack of a management mechanism and the loss of authenticity in works carried out in the property. The site was maintained on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to uncontrolled infrastructure development until 2016. In 2016, at its 40th session in Istanbul, from 10 to 20 July, the World Heritage Committee removed the cultural property from the List of World   Heritage in Danger.

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