The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral that was built during the first part of the 11th century is so magnificent it is hard to describe! It is in Mtskheta, Georgia's first capital and this ancient small city has been a political, economic, and religious center for the kingdom of Iveria for more than 800 years. In the 1st century A.D. there were formed two kingdoms on the territory of Georgia: The kingdom of Iveria (Kartli) - in the east and the kingdom of Colchis - in the west of Georgia. Mtskheta was traveled through by kings, ambassadors or envoys, caravans of merchants, travelers and historians going from North Caucasus to the south.
At the beginning of the 4th century the East Georgian Kingdom officially adopted the Christian religion and this resulted in the commencement of constructing the Christian churches. The first Georgian church was built near the convergence of the two great rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. The remains of some of the wooden pilasters was discovered recently and were dated by scholars as of the 4th century.
The Jvari Monastary was built in the 6th and 7th centuries. and was the first church to be built using the cruciform architectural form. In the early 11th century, Catholicos-Patriarch Melchisedek I ordered the architect Arsukis-dze, to construct this grand cathedral masterpiece and named it Svetitskhoveli. This marvelous masterpiece by Arsukis-dze has been preserved with some alterations. The main works in the building of Svetitskhoveli were conducted during the reign of King Giorgi I (1014 to 1029).
The words of Georgian poets witness that: "Georgia is no Georgia without Svetiskhoveli." and "There is no other sanctity, no other sacred thing equal to Svetitskhoveli in antiquity, grandeur, historical reminiscenes, divine graciousness."
The renowned scholar Alexandre Tsagareli wrote: "There are numerous sacred things in Georgia, but Svetitskhoveli is, for every Georgian, of special charm, having vital influence. It is because of a new Christian life of the Georgian people."