Alex Harford Photography & Travel


Jvari Church, Mtskheta

Jvari Church overlooks Mtskheta, one of Georgia's most historic locationsJvari Church in autumn, with the town of Mtskheta in the distance

My visit to Mtskheta came on my way back to Georgia's capital city, Tbilisi, after travelling around Georgia for 3 weeks. Mtskheta itself is a former capital of Georgia, or Iberia as the region was known as at the time (3rd century BC - 5th century AD). For the photo above I hiked up a hill behind the church past what looked like a small electrical substation. It was well worth the view, especially with those autumn colours in full display.

Due to the large wooden cross that was erected here by Saint Nino in the 4th century Jvari Church is considered one of the holiest sites in Georgia. It was said the cross could perform miracles, so pilgrims came from across the Caucasus. Jvari (or ჯვარი in Georgian) translates to "cross".

The current church, which functions as a Georgian Orthodox monastery, is believed to have been built in the 6th century, though possibly as late as 605. There's a bit of rivalry with Armenia over who built the first "four-apsed church with four niches" (this makes the plan of the church look like a Greek cross) and Jvari is Georgia's claim, so the date is more important to some than others...

Souvenir sellers outside the monastery - I like the use of a car to lay out waresSouvenir sellers and their cars backed by Jvari Church Path to Jvari Church between foreground trees Jvari Church Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers converging,
viewed from Jvari Church

There's a local legend that says the dome of Jvari was once connected to the dome of Svetiskhoveli Cathedral by a chain. Monks used the chain to travel between the two sites, but the chain became weaker and weaker due to fading faith, until one day it completely disappeared to heaven.

Inside Jvari Church

Entry rules - females are allowed guns, smoking and phones?Sign displaying prohibited items and clothing in Jvari Church Dome of Jvari ChurchInside Jvari Church, showing the domed roof Icons on the centre-pieceReligious icons on the centre-piece of Jvari Church CrossThe cross in the centre of Jvari Church Some sort of Georgian calendar?A calendar (?) and some religious icons on the wall

Jvari Church Seen from Mtskheta

Jvari Church at nightJvari Church and moon after sunset From outside the walls of Svetitskhoveli CathedralThe fortified walls of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Jvari Church

The Path to Jvari Church

Jvari looks deceptively close to Mtskheta but there is no direct route. The walk to the church from Mtskheta takes in a desolate park (turn right when heading out of Mtskheta's centre after passing Samtavro Church), a busy highway and steep climb. It only takes around an hour so much better value than taking a taxi, I'd say!

Crossing the Aragvi River on the way to Jvari Church from MtskhetaJvari Church from a bridge over the Aragvi River Small chapel on the path up to Jvari ChurchSmall chapel Inside the small chapelInside the small chapel

Photos taken with the Canon Powershot G1 X compact camera.


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