St James’ Cathedral


Accessible only during services, the interior of this 12th-century cathedral is infused with incense smoke. Blue-and-white tiles and glittering icons adorn its walls, and richly patterned carpets are strewn across the floor. At other times, you can enter the courtyard to see the exterior, which is decorated with khatchkars (Armenian stone crosses surrounded by intricate tracery) and tiled murals depicting the Last Judgement and the Apostles.

It was actually the Georgians who first constructed a church here in honour of St James, believing the site to be the place where he was beheaded and became the first martyred disciple. In the 12th century, the Armenians, in favour with the ruling Crusaders, took possession of the church and undertook its restoration. The tiles in the interior date from the 18th century.

Modest dress is required to attend services; women should cover their heads.