Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of the most sacred worship sites for Orthodox Christians in the Republic of Georgia, dates back to the 11th century. Located in the historic town of Mtskheta, about 12 miles northwest of the nation’s capital of Tbilisi, Svetitskhoveli is the second largest church in the country.
Originally built in the fourth century, the cathedral has been damaged many times during its history, most notably by invasions of Arabs and Persians and more recently during the Soviet period. The building has also been damaged by earthquakes.
Mtskheta was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia during the third century and was the site where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion in the year 337. With a population of approximately 19,400, Mtskheta remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church.