“Every artist was first an amateur.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
How do you describe something of age, seasoned and experienced? As Miss Hoggy visits one of the most antiquated cities of Georgia, one does ponder how one’s age is defined, without using the obvious word of ‘O’. Is it the greatness? Is it the history? Is it the significance? Or just simply where it all began? Like the Emerson’s quote, as every artist was first an amateur, a city was one too. Welcome to the antiquated one, Mtskheta.
Just the gate into Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is enough for you to mutter ‘Wow!’ under your breath. This is the HQ of the Georgian Orthodox Church, since the 4th century, unchanged since. And I wonder why here, why Mtskheta, why such importance. Georgian Orthodox was, is and is to come the very identity of the people of this Caucasus country, the one that united them despite the division and oppression (*whisper* all thanks to the Soviet Union).
The beautiful courtyard, the ornate frescos and the richness of life (and death) that has passed through this church shows her age. Your voice would lower itself, just as you entered the gate. It’s so easy to get lost with thoughts, thoughts about time itself, that is.
This cannot be the beginning. The original capital and this symbol of Georgia has to start somewhere. So I went further up the road, took the marshrutka towards Tbilisi to cross the river, out to find the obscure woodland entry to the only surviving Roman pagan ruins in Georgia, Armaztsikhe Bagineti.
Yeah, the Romans were here. Now, that speaks volume. (*Hint* ancient bath ruins). Not only that, I’ve discovered that the Romans were already making wine, with the same methods as current Georgian wine making techniques- Claypots. The difference is, the Roman made theirs to this view.
Here’s the supposed life of a Roman King, in Armaztsikhe.
So, Georgia was once a pagan country reflected in the Classics by Ptolemy and Strabo with the name Armastica or Harmozica. Even Roman emperors came here to visit this King before, in its heydays. But it all changed when St. Nino converted King Mirian to Christianity in 327 after being miraculously healed of his blindness.
Here I stand, in the once pagan temple of Armazi, overlooking the river, to the Jvari monastery, where King Mirian erected a sacred cross after his conversion. And that’s the beginning of Mtskheta, and of the Georgian identity.Facts: Mtskheta is 30 mins away from Tbilisi, taken from Didube station. It would cost you 1 lari. Mtskheta was done as a day trip.