Visible for kilometres around on its hilltop overlooking Mtskheta from the east, Jvari is, to many Georgians, the holiest of holies. It stands where King Mirian erected his famous wooden cross soon after being converted by St Nino in the 4th century. Between 585 and 604 Stepanoz I, the eristavi (duke) of Kartli, constructed the church over the cross.
Jvari is a beautifully symmetrical little building and a classic of early Georgian tetraconch design. It has a cross-shaped plan with four equal arms, rounded on the inside (with the angles between them filled in by corner rooms), and a low dome sitting on a squat, octagonal drum. The interior is bare, ancient stone, except for a carved wooden cross on the central plinth.
The site provides spectacular views over Mtskheta and the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari. The road up here from Mtskheta takes a highly circuitous 11km route; a taxi should cost 20 GEL for a return trip, including waiting time.