Jvari is a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta.
According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. A small church was erected over the remnants of the wooden cross in circa 545 AD. The present building is generally believed to have been built between 590 and 605 by Erismtavari Stepanoz I.
The importance of Jvari complex increased over time and attracted many pilgrims. In the late Middle Ages, the complex was fortified by a stone wall and gate, remnants of which still survive. During the Soviet period, the church was preserved as a national monument, but access was rendered difficult by tight security at a nearby military base. After the independence of Georgia, the building was restored to active religious use.
The Jvari church is an early example of a four-apsed church with four niches. Between the four apses are three-quarter cylindrical niches which are open to the central space, and the transition from the square central bay to the base of the dome's drum is effected through three rows of squinches.The Jvari church had a great impact on the further development of Georgian architecture and served as a model for many other churches.
Varied bas-relief sculptures with Hellenistic and Sasanian influences decorate its external façades, some of which are accompanied by explanatory inscriptions in Georgian Asomtavruli script. The entrance tympanumon the southern façade is adorned with a relief of the Glorification of the Cross, the same façade also shows an Ascension of Christ.
Erosion is playing its part to deteriorate the monastery, with its stone blocks being degraded by wind and acidic rain.
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.