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Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is located in the former capital of Georgia(Iberia) Mtskheta. The building that stands here now is from the 11th century, however the history of this cathedral goes a lot further into the past.

Sidonia & The Robe of Jesus Christ

It’s a common belief that the church is built on top of the grave of Sidonia. Sidonia was a young Jewish woman from Mtskheta. According to the history, her brother was present at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He bribed the roman guards who were gambling for the belongings of Christ and took the robe from them. After which he returned to Mtskheta. Her sister, Sidonia had recently become a convert to Christianity. When she found out what her brother had – she asked to see it. As soon as she grabbed the robe, she passed away. She was holding the robe so hard, it was impossible to take it away from her so they buried her with it. This happened in the 1st century when Georgia was still pagan, so it didn’t attract a lot of attention.

History of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

The first church was built here in the 4th century when Georgia(Iberia) converted to Christianity. King Mirian who ruled the kingdom at the time, decided to give up his garden (territory where Sidonia was buried) to build a church.

As the workers started to clear the area, they needed to chop down the trees. When they cut down one of the trees, it levitated up to the air. This miracle stunned the locals. They called Saint Nino for help. She prayed here for 3 days and nights. After the prayers the tree landed in the place where they were building the church. They built the church around the tree and called it Svetitskhoveli – A living Pillar.

Dachi the king of Iberia replaced the wooden church in 6th century with a stone cathedral. However during the Arabic invasions they destroyed the church. The ensemble that stands here now has been here since the 11th century. Damaged and reconstructed many times throughout centuries.

Svetitskhoveli used to be the center of the Georgian Orthodox church and also it was the place were all the kings and princes of Georgia took vows to lead the country.

As the cathedral held such a big value for the country, it was one of the main targets for the invaders. This is why the cathedral has a system of secret rooms and pathways elegantly hidden in its structure.

Tours visiting Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Want to visit Jvari? Take a look at our tours that cover this wonderful location:

Tbilisi Mtskheta Jvari Tour

Mtskheta, Gori & Uplistsikhe One Day tour

Packages that Include Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

3 Days – Winter in Georgia

3 Days – Taste of Georgia

4 Days – Winter in Georgia

4 Days – Essential Georgia

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