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Stop At: Jvari Church, Mtskheta Georgia
Jvari monastic temple immortalized by Michael Lermontov (“Mtsyri”poem) is the most ancient cult monument constructed in the beginning of Georgian Christianity in the 6th century (585- 604). The name Jvari means “cross” in Georgian language. It explains the ancient legend which says that it was there that St. Nino of Kappadokia put the Sacred Cross symbolizing the acceptance of Christianity by Georgia. Later over the cross the Temple of the Sacred Cross was built. It is worth mentioning that Small Jvari temple was built first (lying in ruins next to the main temple), and Big Jvari was erected afterwards for the purpose of preservation of the Sacred Cross relic. According to the ancient records the Cross was open to be seen from afar and was the object of worship until the 6 th century.
“The columns of the brought down gate, the towers, and the church arch...” – that was how Lermontov saw Jvari. Today Jvari looks the same as during the visit of Russian classic poet. The brought down stone walls with arch entrance and the temple itself seem majestic and strict. Its ascetic beauty is expressed in ideal proportions of the halls and the dome, in strict and straight lines, in smoothness of the external walls which do not bear any unnecessary decorative elements except the reliefs on their facades. Outwardly the temple looks like a big octahedral drum crowned by hexahedral cross-topped dome. Four premises adjoin the temple from two sides.
Jvari interior is no less harmonious: pure, sound and complete classics enchants with its perfection. From the inside the church is decorated by a mosaic which has survived only in fragments. In the temple's centre one can see the foundation on which the Sacred Cross brought by St. Nino of Kappadokia used to be fixed to.
Jvari is standing on the edge of a high rock and is in wonderful harmony with the severe but extremely picturesque nature of this area. Below, at the foot noisy Kura and Aragvi, two most known rivers in Georgia, are flowing by. Right across lies the extensive panorama of Mtskheta. On the windy slopes near Jvari grows the Tree of Wishes. The pilgrims come there to fasten ribbons with the hopes that their wishes will be granted.
In 1996 Jvari monastery reopened.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Arsukidze, Mtskheta 383400 Georgia
Svetitskoveli Cathedral- he first wooden church was built in the time of King Mirian, the Vakhtang Gorgasali built basilica of large stone church, at the end of V century. In the XI century here was built current large Svetitskoveli by an architect named Arsukidze led by Catholicos Melchizedek.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Stalin Museum, 32 Stalin Avenue, Gori Georgia
The museum makes no serious attempt to present a balanced account of Stalin's career or deeds. It remains, much as when it opened in 1957, a reverent homage to the Gori boy who became a key figure of 20th-century world history – although guides do now at least refer to the purges, the Gulag and his 1939 pact with Hitler. As well as the halls of memorabilia, the visit includes the tiny wood-and-mudbrick house where Stalin lived for the first four years of his life.
The house, where Stalin's parents rented a single room, stands in front of the main museum building, under its own temple-like superstructure.
The museum charts Stalin’s journey from the Gori church school to leadership of the USSR, the Yalta Conference at the end of WWII and his death in 1953. The first hall upstairs covers his childhood and adolescence, including his rather cringeworthy pastoral poetry, and then his early revolutionary activities in Georgia, his seven jail terms under the tsarist authorities (six of them in Siberia), the revolution of 1917 and Lenin’s death in 1924. The text of Lenin’s 1922 political testament that described Stalin as too coarse and power-hungry, advising Communist Party members to remove him from post of General Secretary, is on display.
One room is devoted to a bronze copy of Stalin’s eerie death mask, lying in state. The next has a large collection of gifts from world leaders and other Bolsheviks. Off the staircase is a reconstruction of his first office in the Kremlin, plus personal memorabilia such as his pipes, glasses, cigars and slide rule. One small two-room section beside the foot of the stairs deals with political repression under Stalin.
To one side of the museum is Stalin’s train carriage, in which he travelled to Yalta in 1945 (he didn’t like flying). Apparently bulletproof, its elegant interior includes a bathtub and a primitive air-conditioning system.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Uplistsiche Cave Town, 15 km Eastwards to Town Gori, Gori Georgia
Located in Eastern Georgia, Uplistsikhe (literally “Lord’s Fortress“) is an abandoned rock-hewn town, which once have played an important role in Georgian history. The place was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC, and continued to be inhabited until 13th century AD. Between the 6th century BC and the 11st century AD, Uplistsikhe was one of the most important political and religious centers of pre-Christian Kartli – one of the predecessors of the Georgian state.
Archaeologists have unearthed numerous temples and findings relating to a sun goddess, worshipped prior to the arrival of Christianity. When Christianity arrived in Georgia, the city lost importance in favor of the new centers of Christian culture, most notably Mtskheta and Tbilisi. Nevertheless, life continued in Uplistsikhe, Christian structures have been built, and for a short time, Christianity and the old faith coexisted in the city.
After the Arab conquest of the royal city of Tbilisi, the town’s second heyday began, when Uplistsikhe became the residence of the kings of Kartli, during which the town grew to a size of around 20,000 people, evolving into an important caravan trading post. When Tbilisi was recaptured in 1122, Uplistsikhe faced an immediate and rapid decline, culminated by the destruction of large parts of the city during the Mongol conquest in the 13th century, and the subsequent abandonment of the rest of the town.
The cave town can be divided into a lower, a central and an upper area, covering an area of almost 40,000 square meters. The central area, which contains most of the rock-cut structures, is connected to the lower area by narrow tunnel. Most of the rock-cut structures are without any decorative elements, aside from some of the larger structures, which contain some stone carvings.
At the top of the complex is a Christian stone basilica, dating from the 10th century. The rock-cut structures include a large hall, called Tamaris Darbazi, pagan places of sacrifice, dwellings, as well as functional buildings, like a pharmacy, a bakery, a prison, and even an amphitheater. The rock-cut structures are connected by tunnels, while other tunnels had the purpose of an emergency escape route.
Uplistsikhe is remarkable for the unique combination of styles from rock-cut cultures of the region, most notably from Cappadocia (in modern Turkey) and Northern Iran. Most of the unearthed artifacts can be seen at the National Museum in Tbilisi
Duration: 1 hour