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Georgia: Jvari Church

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Jvari Church | Georgia | Asia

[Visited: May 2005, November 2005]

Towering high above Mtskheta, on the other side of river Mtkvari, is the ancient Jvari monastery. While Mtskheta itself has several attractions of itself, being a Unesco World Heritage Site, the attraction of Jvari Monastery proved irresistible. Moreover, being probably the most holy and spiritual place of Georgia, it is inevitable to visit. While the easiest way would have been to rent a taxi and be taken up, I decided to go up by my own power, even though it was a cloudy day and the afternoon was already half gone. Following some dirt tracks out of the town, I soon had to tread carefully not to get completely soaked feet. The previous days, rain had fallen abundantly, and the paths had been converted into mud baths.

Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: silhouet on the hill seen from a distance

Jvari church was always in sight, and it never lost its attraction. When I finally arrived on the highway, I asked a snackcar man on the other side how I could climb up. He pointed towards the castle, and I understood I had to follow the highway. Since it is no fun to walk along a highway full of traffic, I remained on the lookout for a path leading up the hill. I found one, and decided to follow it. After a while, I came across many sheep and a group of shepherds. They pointed to the highway as the way to Jvari church, so I went down again, and around the hill. The church was above me, always on my left hand side, and then disappeared behind me when I found another path leading up. This time, I arrived at a ridge from where a valley with a lake opened up below, and Jvari church reappeared, still on my left. Now, it was a majestic sight, the ancient forms of the orthodox church painted against dark mountains on the horizon, and some rays of sunlight seeping through the cloudy sky.

Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari church: path leading up to the church on top of the hill

The church itself was almost deserted, only one woman was praying. Some slender, yellow candles were burning, black robes hanging on one wall, and a huge cross dominated the entire inside of the church. Jvari church is sublime in its setting, but I think also in the sincere simplicity of its design. Yet this place is the holies of places in Georgia, and many Georgians may even claim that Jvari is the spiritual heart of the country. Moreover, its terraconch architecture a classic. The place is holy because it was here that St. Nino converted Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia, to christianity. Some two centuries later, in the 6th century, the first church was built on this spot.

Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: looking down to Mtskheta, hills and rivers
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: main entrance and tree
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari church: a wooden cross dominates the interior of the church
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: bells hanging outside
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: last stretch of road leading to the church
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: silhouet of the church on the hill
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church seen just aboce the wall of Mtskheta cathedral
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari church seen from a distance with trees in autumn colours
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church on top of green hill with flowers
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: robes hanging on the wall
Picture of Jvari Church (Georgia): Jvari Church: detail of outside

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