Jvari Monastery

Mtskheta, Georgia

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.


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Founded: 590-605 AD
Category: Religious sites in Georgia


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Nivedith G (MacroTraveller) (17 months ago)
Its an UNESCO heritage site and its currently under partial renovation. Its quite close from tbilisi. I would recommend you to walk by the monastery and shop for some souvenirs and wine too. Please do try out wine ice cream. Its really nice and just 5 lari
Anton Wimmer (18 months ago)
A beautiful monastery, well preserved and with many beautiful carvings. It’s situated on a hilltop so the view is understandably amazing. There’s quite a lot of people but not overcrowded. Close to Tbilisi, so well worth a visit!
Greg Johnston (23 months ago)
At Jvari Monastery is where we started our day; the Monastery is perched atop a hill overlooking Mtskheta; there is no fee to visit. A must-visit, it takes less than an hour to tour this location, beautiful view overlooking the valley below and the snow-capped mountains in the far distance 3btraveler
Samuela Davidova (2 years ago)
Beautiful old monastery. You can hitch hike to get to the top or hike, yet I found only the way along the road. It can be very windy and cold in winter. However, the view is worth it
Introvert Foodie (2 years ago)
30 minutes road trip away from the capital Tbilisi. The scenic spot is free of admission. You can enjoy the cold weather and the beautiful city of Mtskheta from this angle point. A beautiful vantage point that you should visit in your Georgian trip.
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