Mtskheta is an old religious center of Georgia since this was the location of the adoption of Christianity in 327 making Georgia only the second kingdom to adopt Christianity as the official religion after neighboring Armenia had become the first. The city used to be the capital of eastern Georgia – but the government was moved to nearby Tbilisi in the 5th century. The city did remain an important religious center and the large Svetitskhoveli Cathedral remained the most important church of the Georgia Orthodox church long after the seat of government left.
You can easily visit the city on public transport from Tbilisi but we stayed overnight which meant we could see a bit of the sights in the morning and late afternoon without the large hordes of tourist which seems to arrive from Tbilisi later in the day.
In the morning we start the exploration at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and then wonder down some minor streets until we reach a little nunnery at the outskirt of the old town. It is a nice little complex. There is a nun there and she let us in to have a quick look at the ground in front of the monastery itself but the building is off limits for visitors. For some reason there is a pretty white horse grazing on the grass in front of the buildings.
A bit outside the old town is a small fortress on the top of a little hill which is clearly visible from the center of the city. We walk towards the fortress but we don’t make it all the way down there in the first go since we get sidetracked by a small museum of an ancient settlement next to the road. It is one of the oldest settlements in Georgia.
The museum is closed and there is nobody at the ticket counter – but the gate isn’t locked so we decide just to walk in and have a quick look around. There isn’t all that much to see but we got it all to ourselves which to me is always an attraction in itself.
After a quick look at the old settlement we continue down the road to the fortress and walk up the hill. There isn’t much inside the fortress and it is pretty broken down. But it is a bit of a challenge to walk up and down the hill in the wind