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Jvari Church (Mtskheta)

The Jvari church, the church of the Holy Cross, is situated in Mtskheta, and stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. The beginning of Christianity in Georgia is closely connected to its history. After the conversion of Kartli, a large wooden cross was erected on the spot where the church was later constructed. The cross was able to work miracles and therefore drew pilgrims from all over Caucasus. The Jvari church was built between 586 and 605 by Ersimtavari Stepanoz I, upon the cross which it enclosed within its interior. The building represents a tetrachonch type – i.e. a four-apse domed building. Between the apses there are three-quarter circular niches, which communicate with the central space. The transition from the square bay to the dome circle is effected through three rows of squinches. The Holy Cross church in Mtskheta is the first to be amply decorated with sculpture. In the exhibition we show the entrance’s tympanum on the southern façade, which is adorned with a relief of the Glorification of the Cross, and the same façade also shows an Ascension of Christ. The Jvari church, one of the best examples of Georgian Early Christian architecture, had a great impact on the further development of Georgian Architecture due to its special religious and architectural significance. It inspired the building of several churches, the so-called Jvari replicas, in various parts of Georgia.