Mtskheta, Georgia

The Holy City of Georgia

The Riverside of Mtshketa
Beyond the Walls
Beggars at the Door
The sheep
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
orthodox priests
bridal steps
The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
The Wedding Screen
4 Levels of Orthodoxy
Candles of Faith
orthodox baptism
Jvari II Monastery
Candles for Christ
The Pediment
matrimonial kiss
The Jvari Monastery
If Tbilisi is the contemporary capital, Mtskheta was the city that made Christianity official in the kingdom of Iberia, predecessor of Georgia, and one that spread the religion throughout the Caucasus. Those who visit see how, after almost two millennia, it is Christianity that governs life there.

It's Sunday afternoon. Mtskheta faces a ceremonial frenzy.

We walk down the alley that leads to the domain of the Svetitskhoveli cathedral. In the opposite direction, an ex-boyfriend carries his wife on his lap, on an irregular sidewalk.

Finally, the wall that protects the city's great Orthodox temple gives way to a half-open gate. We pass inland.

A group of flower sellers and beggars, seated on a wooden bench, claim a charitable gesture from anyone who enters.

The Ceremonial-Orthodox Bustle of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

Whoever enters for good is impressed by the grandeur of the cathedral, stacked on four levels, up to the dome blessed with a golden cross that acclaims it.

More faithful emerge from the framed penumbra of the entrance to the nave, among them, two guests, one blonde, the other brunette, dressed in elegant dresses.

Soon, the new bride, aided by what we consider to be a lady d'honor, also shining with whiteness.

As the weekend draws to a close, the ceremonial cycle continues at a brisk pace.

We entered the Pilar of Life Abbey.

Believers light candles, whisper their prayers and read passages from the Bible, in front of an image of the crucified Christ, gilded by the light of the multitude of flames.

After a Marriage, Another Marriage

As we approached the altar, we found a new marriage, formal and sumptuous, in line with the host Christian orthodoxy.

Groomsmen and grooms hold candles. The bride and groom, distinguished and praised by silver crowns, are led in the ceremony by a priest with a long black beard, clad in a blood-red cassock trimmed and adorned with patterns and religious symbols.

The priest leaves his pulpit, holding a shining cross under his chin. He pulls the bride and groom by the hand to the iconostasis.

There, position the bride on the left, the groom on the right.

Then, on the contrary.

According to instructions from their liturgy, the couple kisses both sides of the partition decorated with images of saints. When he returns to the priest, the latter seals their union, congratulated by the waiting relatives who, soon, leave for the atrium.

Arriving at another lugubrious corner, a second priest celebrates a baptism, a child immersed in holy water three times, in a sequence of agile movements.

While the parents are calming and drying the child, the next matchmaking duo is already lined up at the matrimonial departure house, both they and the godparents, in traditional Georgian attire, all waiting for the wedding priest to recover from the previous one and reappear at his post. .

This orthodox bustle in which we roam and which we record has its obvious reason for being. Svetitskhoveli cathedral is not the biggest church in Georgia. This title belongs to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Tbilisi.

Mtskheta and the Genesis of Georgian Christianity

It is, however, one of the important and revered churches in Georgia and the Caucasus, one of the four main churches in the Georgian Orthodox "world".

Over the years, the religious role of the walled cathedral spread to Mtskheta in general.

Mtskheta was the place where, in 337 AD, the monarchs of Iberia proclaimed Christianity the religion of their kingdom. In the following century, Christianity was consolidated.

Iberia was able to elect its first catholicus and to determine that Svetitskhoveli would have as residence, at the time, a fraction of the defensive and religious complex that it would become.

Aware of the importance that the town was gaining, the monarchs dictated its multiple fortification, based on the citadels of Armazi, Tsitsamuri and Sarkine.

The History of the Pioneer Temple of Svetitskhoveli

Svetitskhoveli became known as the burial place of the mantle that Christ used before being crucified, taken from Jerusalem by Jews from this region of the Caucasus and is said to have been guarded under a ciborium erected in the XNUMXth century.

Over time, Svetitskhoveli's pioneering small wooden church from the XNUMXth century ceased to serve the purposes of newly converted Christians.

The XNUMXth century enters. Attentive to the needs of the catholicus and the people, a monarch named Vakhtang Gorgasali (born Kartli) ordered the construction of an open basilica, at the time, the largest church in present-day Georgia.

This basilica lasted, as such, until the XNUMXth century. Until the Christian community grew again too much for the space that the temple offered. O catholicus since then, it has claimed a new, even broader one. The result lives on in today's stunning Svetitskhoveli cathedral.

From the XNUMXth century onwards, Svetitskhoveli was also the place of coronation and the last resting place of a series of kings in the region. That status carried over to the subsequent kingdom of Georgia. It remained until the XNUMXth century, when the Russian Empire incorporated Georgia.

Leaps of Faith, by Svetitskhoveli Mother Cathedral

Even though it is located just 20km from the capital Tbilisi, and with less than eight thousand inhabitants, Mtskheta has become the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

It became a center of pilgrimage and religiosity, which the coexistence of the Jvari monastery and different mystical Orthodox temples only reinforced. We would come to unveil them.

In the meantime, we continued to explore the walled redoubt, which the setting sun turned gilded, of Svetitskhoveli. We see two believers drag a sheep by the back and ears.

They leave her to graze on a patch of grass, next to a priest in an all-black habit who is talking on a cell phone.

We went around a corner of the temple.

Seated on a marble bench, against a stone wall, the two priests we had accompanied to the successive weddings and baptisms, recovering from the wear and tear of their tasks, side by side, both with two large golden crucifixes hanging over their chests.

None spoke a language that allowed us to communicate, just Georgian and Russian. As such, we drafted a request to photograph them, a wish that we see immediately granted.

The priests pose, heavy and proud, of their preponderance in Georgian society. After which we left them to the conversation we had interrupted.

Finally, we leave Svetitskhoveli to the faithful. First, back to the cobbled alley, between carts, overloaded persimmon trees and stores selling religious items and souvenirs, now almost in the shade.

Ascent to the Scenic Heights of Jvari Monastery

Moments later, heading to the panoramic top of the Jvari monastery, located on the outskirts of Mtskheta.

Unexpectedly, we came across newly married couples again, accompanied by their entourage of family and friends, free from orthodox formalities and, as such, spontaneous and fun.

The married duo, in Svetitskhoveli, in traditional Georgian costumes, kiss like there's no tomorrow, filmed by a pal promoted to filmmaker.

Once the scene is complete, they begin the descent back to the city, in a pilgrimage so euphoric that the ex-bride ignores the train of her dress sweeping the floor.

We watched them disappear at the bottom of the hill trail. And the sun does the same for the illuminated side of the world.

Floodlights highlight the twilight monastery of Jvari, once again in gold, on the vertiginous shore where the pioneer Christians of the kingdom of Iberia built it in the XNUMXth century.

The artificial lighting generates silhouettes that we admire, lengthening and shortening, in a whimsical dance of light and pitch.

Thus entertained, we conquered the 656 meters of Mount Jvari. We are dazzled by the grandiose panoramas that it reveals to us.

The Flow of the Great Georgian Rivers between Orthodox and Muslim Countries

Below, the Aragvi River joins the Mtkvari (also known as Kura), in its own fluvial communion, from there, destined for the Caspian Sea, with a winding passage through Tbilisi and much of the neighboring Azerbaijan.

By a quirk of history, Azerbaijan became a Muslim nation, as did Dagestan and Chechnya to the north. Turkey to the west and Iran to the south.

Despite the Islamic spread around it, Georgia and Armenia maintains millennial stamps of Christianity, bastions and propagators of faith in Christ, since shortly after his Resurrection.

In Armenia, the seat of Orthodox Christianity and seat of Catholicos is in Etchmiadzin.

In Georgia, the equivalent seat remains in Mtskheta for all masses, weddings, confirmations and baptisms, the holy city of the Caucasus and one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in the world. face of the earth.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Georgia still Perfumed by the Rose Revolution

In 2003, a popular political uprising made the sphere of power in Georgia tilt from East to West. Since then, the capital Tbilisi has not renounced its centuries of Soviet history, nor the revolutionary assumption of integrating into Europe. When we visit, we are dazzled by the fascinating mix of their past lives.
Upplistsikhe e Gori, Georgia

From the Cradle of Georgia to Stalin's Childhood

In the discovery of the Caucasus, we explore Uplistsikhe, a troglodyte city that preceded Georgia. And just 10km away, in Gori, we find the place of the troubled childhood of Joseb Jughashvili, who would become the most famous and tyrant of Soviet leaders.
Kazbegi, Georgia

God in the Caucasus Heights

In the 4000th century, Orthodox religious took their inspiration from a hermitage that a monk had erected at an altitude of 5047 m and perched a church between the summit of Mount Kazbek (XNUMXm) and the village at the foot. More and more visitors flock to these mystical stops on the edge of Russia. Like them, to get there, we submit to the whims of the reckless Georgia Military Road.

The Cradle of the Official Christianity

Just 268 years after Jesus' death, a nation will have become the first to accept the Christian faith by royal decree. This nation still preserves its own Apostolic Church and some of the oldest Christian temples in the world. Traveling through the Caucasus, we visit them in the footsteps of Gregory the Illuminator, the patriarch who inspires Armenia's spiritual life.
Alaverdi, Armenia

A Cable Car Called Ensejo

The top of the Debed River Gorge hides the Armenian monasteries of Sanahin and Haghpat and terraced Soviet apartment blocks. Its bottom houses the copper mine and smelter that sustains the city. Connecting these two worlds is a providential suspended cabin in which the people of Alaverdi count on traveling in the company of God.
Yerevan, Armenia

A Capital between East and West

Heiress of the Soviet civilization, aligned with the great Russia, Armenia allows itself to be seduced by the most democratic and sophisticated ways of Western Europe. In recent times, the two worlds have collided in the streets of your capital. From popular and political dispute, Yerevan will dictate the new course of the nation.
lake sevan, Armenia

The Bittersweet Caucasus Lake

Enclosed between mountains at 1900 meters high, considered a natural and historical treasure of Armenia, Lake Sevan has never been treated as such. The level and quality of its water has deteriorated for decades and a recent invasion of algae drains the life that subsists in it.
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Chinalig, Azerbaijan

The Village at the Top of Azerbaijan

Set in the rugged, icy 2300 meters of the Great Caucasus, the Khinalig people are just one of several minorities in the region. It has remained isolated for millennia. Until, in 2006, a road made it accessible to the old Soviet Ladas.
Rhinoceros, PN Kaziranga, Assam, India
PN Kaziranga, India

The Indian Monoceros Stronghold

Situated in the state of Assam, south of the great Brahmaputra river, PN Kaziranga occupies a vast area of ​​alluvial swamp. Two-thirds of the rhinocerus unicornis around the world, there are around 100 tigers, 1200 elephants and many other animals. Pressured by human proximity and the inevitable poaching, this precious park has not been able to protect itself from the hyperbolic floods of the monsoons and from some controversies.
Thorong La, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, photo for posterity
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 13th - High camp a Thorong La to Muktinath, Nepal

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
coast, fjord, Seydisfjordur, Iceland
Architecture & Design
Seydisfjordur, Iceland

From the Art of Fishing to the Fishing of Art

When shipowners from Reykjavik bought the Seydisfjordur fishing fleet, the village had to adapt. Today, it captures Dieter Roth's art disciples and other bohemian and creative souls.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Christmas scene, Shillong, Meghalaya, India
Ceremonies and Festivities
Shillong, India

A Christmas Selfiestan at an India Christian Stronghold

December arrives. With a largely Christian population, the state of Meghalaya synchronizes its Nativity with that of the West and clashes with the overcrowded Hindu and Muslim subcontinent. Shillong, the capital, shines with faith, happiness, jingle bells and bright lighting. To dazzle Indian holidaymakers from other parts and creeds.
In elevator kimono, Osaka, Japan
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
young saleswoman, nation, bread, uzbekistan
Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan, The Nation That Does Not Lack Bread

Few countries employ cereals like Uzbekistan. In this republic of Central Asia, bread plays a vital and social role. The Uzbeks produce it and consume it with devotion and in abundance.
Tatooine on Earth
Matmata Tataouine:  Tunisia

Star Wars Earth Base

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Reindeer Racing, Kings Cup, Inari, Finland
Inari, Finland

The Wackiest Race on the Top of the World

Finland's Lapps have been competing in the tow of their reindeer for centuries. In the final of the Kings Cup - Porokuninkuusajot - , they face each other at great speed, well above the Arctic Circle and well below zero.
Composition on Nine Arches Bridge, Ella, Sri Lanka
Yala NPElla-Kandy, Sri Lanka

Journey Through Sri Lanka's Tea Core

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San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Zapatismo, Mexico, San Nicolau Cathedral
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The Home Sweet Home of Mexican Social Conscience

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Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Trycicles, Bacolod, Negros Occidental, Filipinos
Bacolod, Philippines

Sweet Philippines

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Women at Mass. Bora Bora, Society Islands, Polynesia, French
Bora-Bora, Raiatea, Huahine, French Polynesia

An Intriguing Trio of Societies

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Horses under a snow, Iceland Never Ending Snow Island Fire
Winter White
Husavik a Myvatn, Iceland

Endless Snow on the Island of Fire

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shadow vs light
Kyoto, Japan

The Kyoto Temple Reborn from the Ashes

The Golden Pavilion has been spared destruction several times throughout history, including that of US-dropped bombs, but it did not withstand the mental disturbance of Hayashi Yoken. When we admired him, he looked like never before.
Hell's Bend of Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Fish River Canyon, Namíbia

The Namibian Guts of Africa

When nothing makes you foreseeable, a vast river ravine burrows the southern end of the Namíbia. At 160km long, 27km wide and, at intervals, 550 meters deep, the Fish River Canyon is the Grand Canyon of Africa. And one of the biggest canyons on the face of the Earth.
Natural Parks

icy blue planet

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Women at Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan, India.
UNESCO World Heritage
Jaisalmer, India

The Life Withstanding in the Golden Fort of Jaisalmer

The Jaisalmer fortress was erected from 1156 onwards by order of Rawal Jaisal, ruler of a powerful clan from the now Indian reaches of the Thar Desert. More than eight centuries later, despite continued pressure from tourism, they share the vast and intricate interior of the last of India's inhabited forts, almost four thousand descendants of the original inhabitants.
now from above ladder, sorcerer of new zealand, Christchurch, new zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Viti Levu, Fiji Islands, South Pacific, coral reef
Viti levu, Fiji

Islands on the edge of Islands

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Passage, Tanna, Vanuatu to the West, Meet the Natives
Tanna, Vanuatu

From where Vanuatu Conquered the Western World

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Chepe Express, Chihuahua Al Pacifico Railway
On Rails
Creel to Los Mochis, Mexico

The Barrancas del Cobre & the CHEPE Iron Horse

The Sierra Madre Occidental's relief turned the dream into a construction nightmare that lasted six decades. In 1961, at last, the prodigious Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad was opened. Its 643km cross some of the most dramatic scenery in Mexico.
Tombola, street bingo-Campeche, Mexico
Campeche, Mexico

200 Years of Playing with Luck

At the end of the XNUMXth century, the peasants surrendered to a game introduced to cool the fever of cash cards. Today, played almost only for Abuelites, lottery little more than a fun place.
the projectionist
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Sainte-Luce, Martinique

The Nostalgic Projectionist

From 1954 to 1983, Gérard Pierre screened many of the famous films arriving in Martinique. 30 years after the closing of the room in which he worked, it was still difficult for this nostalgic native to change his reel.
Howler Monkey, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tortuguero: From the Flooded Jungle to the Caribbean Sea

After two days of impasse due to torrential rain, we set out to discover the Tortuguero National Park. Channel after channel, we marvel at the natural richness and exuberance of this Costa Rican fluvial marine ecosystem.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.