The Jvari Monastery

The 6th Century Jvari Monastery as can be seen from an adjacent hill. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

On a mountaintop overlooking the old capital town of Mtskheta and the scenic  confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers stood the ancient structure of the 6th Century Jvari Monastery. According to traditional accounts,  Saint Nino who brought  Christianity to Georgia in the 4th century, erected a wooden cross on this site.  The cross drew pilgrims from all over the region because it was reportedly able to work miracles.  The “Small Church of Jvari” was eventually erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in c.545  and, between 586 and 605, was renovated into the “Great Church of Jvari” which is what can be seen now in these photos.

The monastery as viewed from the river. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

The monastery as can be seen from inside the compound of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral inside Mtskheta. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

There was a military base in the area during the Soviet period, thus the Jvari was largely ignored during this time because access was difficult due to tight security around the base.  The building was restored to active religious use only after Georgia’s independence and Jvari was listed together with other monuments of Mtskheta as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Approach to the monastery. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce Photography

View from the side facing Mtsketa. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

A closer view of Jvari Monastery. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

We visited the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and the Jvari Monastery, both in Mtskheta, on the same cloudy day in April 2011. We went up to the Jvari first so small rain was still falling while I was taking these photos although the weather gradually improved as we explored the area.  I didn’t mind the rain but I had to be mindful of the poor lighting and the slippery surroundings as I took these photos.

A Georgian family (my hosts) poses near the entrance to the church. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

6th Century stonework and bas-relief sculptures are mostly intact though seriously needing preservation. Copyright Jessie T. Ponce 2011

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