Samtavisi is a large C13th church with the remains of a substantial C5th basilica lying directly to the south. This means that they were built side-by-side and raises the question of when the C5th basilica fell out of use and whether the later building was its replacement.
Shiomghvime means 'the caves of Shio'. Shio was one of the Thirteen (As)Syrian Fathers and he is reputed to have settled in caves to the west of Mtskheta and it is here that the monastery complex need for him is located. The buildings are of many different periods, meaning that claims that one of the churches dates back to the C6th is difficult to verify.
The small, centrally-planned church of St. John the Baptist in Idleti dates from C5th-C6th and is an unusual building suggesting the architects were experimenting with different forms as the dome, which is hemispherical on the interior, is in a square drum that rests on the crossing of the central space. This centrality has now been lost by the addition of a disproportionately large single storied narthex to the west.
Ateni Sioni is regarded as the most beautiful church of the "Jvari' type. It is C7th and located in a place of outstanding natural beauty on a rock outcrop above a river in a narrow valley. Its beauty is enhanced by the many reliefs carved into the exterior of the church walls.
Samtsevrisi is a C7th church of the 'Jvari' type. It is a small, centrally-planned chapel that now stands isolated in a small graveyard.
The church at Tsromi has an inscription dating its construction to 626-634 and it is a domed basilica of a type similar to that found in Armenia at Mren and in several other locations.
Sioni (Zion) was the most important church in Tbilisi until the new Cathedral of the Trinity was built on the other side of the river. Its foundations date back to late antiquity but it has been continuously altered and been almost completely rebuilt since the end of Communism.
Anchiskhati is a C6th basilica in Tbilisi that was named after the miraculous icon housed within it. This icon is now in the Art Museum in Tbilisi and is a C6th representation of the Mandylion. The basilica has been altered since the C6th, notably by raising the height of the building, and has a bell tower dated 1675.
Svetiskhoveli is the national cathedral of Georgia and translates as the "Life-giving Pillar". The foundational legend of the church says that a Georgian Jew named Elias bought Christ's cloak from the soldier who had drawn lots for it. On his return to Mtskheta he was met by his sister Sidonia who died on embracing the cloak. She was buried holding the cloak and an oak tree grew out of her grave. When St. Nino evangelised Georgia she had the tree cut down and made into seven columns for a new church but the seventh hovered above the earth and displayed miraculous powers before finally being lowered into its place.
The current cathedral dates from the C11th and is built on the foundations of a series of earlier church buildings. It includes a (stone) pillar associated with the miraculous origins of the church and a medieval replica of the Holy Sepulchre within it.
Tags: Architecture, C11th, Cathedral, Christ, Church, Elias, Fresco, Georgia, Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, Jew, Middle Ages, Mtskheta, Sculpture, Shida Kartli, Sidonia, St. Nino, Svetiskhoveli
Antioki (Antioch) is the name given to a C5th basilica in Mtskheta by the confluence of the two rivers. It is believed that the district may have housed people from Syria or Asia Minor (more specifically maybe from Antioch itself) in antiquity and that this was the reason for the toponym that has now been attached to the church. Archaeological evidence suggests that the basilica was originally dedicated to St. Stephen and today small church comprises the northern aisle of the original building. The central nave and southern aisle of the basilica are no longer extant although their outline is clearly visible in the gardens surrounding the extant church.