Saturday in the most religious, historic and spiritual place in Georgia – Mtskheta. I have many amazing pictures for this post, especially from local weddings. But first – Ananuri.
It is a fortress, located 66km north of Tbilisi by the Zhinvali Reservoir. Within the fortress there are two churches.
The fortress was built in the 17th century and it belonged to the local aristocracy, dukes of Aragvi.
And now Mtskheta. It is here that Christianity was established in about 327, and it holds a near mystical significance in Georgian culture.
Visible for miles around on its hilltop, Jvari is, to many Georgians, the holiest of the holies. It stands where King Mirian erected a wooden cross soon after his conversion by St. Nino in the 4th century. The church we see now was built between 585 and 604 over the cross.
The famous icon of Conversion of Georgia:
Beside the church, I found the tree of life with ribbons attached to it, the same way I saw them attached to Fairy Trees in Ireland.
The second very important spiritual sight in Mtskheta is the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral from the 11th century also known as the Church of the Life-Giving Pillar. We are talking here about the same pillar that we see on the icon above.
Jvari Church can be seen on top of the hill. But my attention was focused on this beautiful Georgian couple:
And now the story of the Church of the Life-Giving Pillar – Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
The site was chosen for one of Georgia’s first churches in the 4th century because it was the burial place of an early Georgian saint, Sidonia. A cedar tree grew from her grave, and King Mirian ordered seven columns to be made from its trunk to provide the church’s foundations. It is said that when the sixth column was completed, the seventh rose magically by itself into the air and could only be put into place when St Nino interceded through prayer. It was also believed that a sacred liquid flowing from the column could cure all diseases. In Georgian the word sveti means “column,” and tskhoveli means “life giving.”
Source: Michael Spilling and Winnie Wong, Georgia (Cultures of the World), Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, New York.
Here is the place where according to the tradition was the tree and the grave of St Sidonia:
While visiting the church we had an opportunity to see how traditional Georgian weddings are celebrated:
The couple will enter the church between two rows of man dressed in traditional Georgian outfits holding khangali above their heads.