One of the most important churches in all the Georgia – Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is located in Mtskheta town, as it is the most religious town of Georgia, it is the place where Christianity in Georgia takes its origin.

It was erected by architect Arsukidze in 11th century, in the place where the first church in Georgia once stood in the 4th. The name Svetitskhoveli what may be translated as “the life-giving pillar”, in Georgian hagiography is explained by breathtaking story. In the 1st century AD a Georgian Jew from Mtskheta named Elias was in Jerusalem during Jesus crucifixion. Elias took Jesus’ robe from a Roman soldier at Golgotha and brought it back to Georgia. Returning to his native city, he was met by his sister Sidonia who after touching the robe died from the emotions engendered by the sacred object. The robe could not be removed from her grasp, so she was buried with it. Later, from her grave grew an enormous cedar tree. St. Nino ordered to chop the cedar down in order to build the church. Seven columns were made. However the seventh column had magical power and rose by itself into the air. It returned to earth after St. Nino prayed the whole night. It was further said that from the magical seventh column a sacred liquid flowed that cured people of all diseases. In Georgian “sveti” means “pillar” and “tskhoveli” – “life-giving” or “living”, hence the name of the cathedral.

The place where Sidonia is buried with Christ’s robe is preserved in the Cathedral and the icon portraying this event can be also seen there.

Svetitskhoveli is the second largest church building in the country, after the recently consecrated Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral, and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other historical monuments of Mtskheta.