Metekhi (The city of Tbilisi)
The historical heart of the city, Metekhi is the place from where King Vakhtang Gorgosali started to develop the new capital erecting the first church on top of the hill in the 5th century. The Metekhi church is a cross-cupola church. While this style was the most common throughout the Middle Ages, the Metekhi church is somewhat anachronistic with its three projecting apses in the east facade and the four freestanding pillars supporting the cupola within. The church is made of brick and dressed stone. The restoration of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries mostly employed brick. The facade is for the most part smooth, with decorative elements concentrated around the windows of the eastern apses. Horizontal bands below the gables run around all four sides and serve as a unifying element. The north portico of the main entrance is not a later addition but was built at the same time as the rest of the church.
Legend has it also that the Metekhi cliff was a site of the martyrdom of Habo (8th century), Tbilisi’s patron saint. A small church in his honor is now under construction at the foot of the cliff. The cliff is connected to the opposite, right embankment of the Mtkvari river, via a reinforced concrete bridge, which was constructed in 1951 at the place of the two older bridges. Unfortunately, a unique complex of various structures and buildings dating from the 17th to 19th centuries were destroyed during the construction of the bridge. Recently, the city’s government announced its intention to restore this part of historic Old Tbilisi as it was in the first half of the 20th century.