Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (Region of Mtskheta – Mtianeti)
Svetitskhoveli, located in the heart of Kartli, in downtown Mtskheta, was built in XI century, is a cathedral and a residence of the Patriarchate. Among the existing today middle-age Georgian Christian cultural monuments Svetitskhoveli is the greatest. The first hall church was built here as early as IV c. ruins of which are visible in the interior of the cathedral, under glass flooring. Inside the cathedral is basilica built by the king of Kartli, Vakhtang Gorgasali, in V century. Today’s cathedral was built on order of Catholicos-Patriarch of Mtskheta, Melkisedek, in 1010-1029 by architect Arsukisdze. A legend floated that when construction of cathedral was finished, the architect’s right hand was severed since he prevailed and overtook his teacher in architectural mastership. Svetitskhoveli is considered to have triggered a starting point of the whole direction in the Georgian Middle Age central-dome architecture.
Svetitskhoveli underwent many restorations. In the reign of the king of Georgia, Alexander I (XV c.), dome neck and façade were restored, some bas-relief images changed their places. Fresco painting of the Cathedral belongs to later time (for the most part, XVI-XVII cc.). Svetitskhoveli is surrounded by a two-tier fence with combat path, gun emplacements and loopholes for pelting stones which were built by the king of Kartli and Kakheti, Erekle II in 1787. Cylinder and 2 corner towers are built-in in the fence. In the southern wall of the fence is located entrance gate. On the western side are a belfry and a gate of XI c. In the south-eastern part of Svetitskhoveli courtyard is a palace of Catholicos-Patriarch, Anton II (1788-1811).
The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.