Fredrik and I set out on a quest when we were traveling in South America for 3 months – to see as many of the UNESCO heritage sites as possible and all wonders of the world. Unfortunately, I did not have Fredrik by my side in Georgia but still it was time to add yet another site to the list. Mtskheta, one of the oldest cities in Georgia, the capital of early Georgian Kingdom from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD and also one of the most important center of Christianity in Georgia.
Located just 30 minutes drive from Tbilisi it turned out to be a perfect spot to visit and to get there was an experience in itself. Georgia is a truly beautiful country. Not big in terms of size but still offering such a wide range of nature. From the dramatic mountains with their green sceneries, the snowy tops to the beaches by the turquoise Black Sea. Thinking about it, Georgia is a bit like Eastern Europe’s Italy. It has the beautiful nature but also the food and wine!
On sometimes bumpy roads we drover further into the mountains passing one view more spectacular than the previous. I love to explore new countries by car. You get to see so much more and you can stop whenever you want.
Reaching Mtskheta, Gaggi, my guide took me through the narrow streets of this little village. The further we got, the less touristy the streets became. We passed beautiful hand craft, carpets, home made honey and finally we reached our first stop, an authentic and local Georgian restaurant. I have had Georgina food before but nothing of what I have eaten could be compared by the food here. The salad with the delicious tomatoes, the Khinkali and the Khachapuri.
Who could have thought that a lunch by a plastic table in Mtskheta whould be the best culinary experience I would have in Georgia. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Gaggi even taught me how to eat Khinhali. I did not succeed but at least I know how to do in theory!
The main attraction of this village is the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral built in the 11th century. Not only is this cathedral one of the most important monuments throughout Georgia but it has also had a huge influences of the architecture of this country. Gaggi knew all about this monument, the story of every little detail and even though I might not have the same passion for its history as he had , I loved to listen to these stories, to dream away to another time, imagining how life was then.
From all the stories, there were two things that stayed in my memory. First of all the tombs. The floor of the cathedral is full of them and as I was taught not to step on tombs, I tried my best not to. Gaggi quickly stopped me and said: In here we walk on the tombs to honor the dead. One the most famous kings even had his tomb placed in the entrance of one of the cathedrals to make sure the people would continue to honor and not forget about him. Even though it did not feel fully correct, I had no choice than to adapt to this custom.
Secondly, it was the he Georgian ancestors belief in chaos rather than structure and symmetry. Many of the decorations of the outside walls seemed to be placed in a random way and when I asked Gaggi about it, it turned out that it was all meant to be. Life is chaotic and you should not try to control things that can not be controlled but go with the flow. A valid thought also in today’s busy society!
The next stop took us up to one of the mountain tops, to the ancient Jvari Monastery built in 6th century. The road up here was narrow and bumpy but the views were just majestic and even more so when we reached the monastery as such.
Georgia is such a stunning country with so much to offer. The glimpse of Batumi (business trip), my weekend in lovely Tbilisi and the visit to Mtskheta, has just made me even more curious about this country and I am quite sure we will soon meet again!