Georgia – Svetitskhoveli Cathedral fresco
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (literally, “the Living Pillar Cathedral”) is a Georgian Orthodox cathedral located in the historical town of Mtskheta, Georgia, 20 km (12 mi) northwest of the nation’s capital of Tbilisi.
Svetitskhoveli, known as the burial site of Christ’s mantle, has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day. It presently functions as the seat of the archbishop of Mtskheta and Tbilisi, who is at the same time Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia.
The current cathedral was built in the 11th century by the Georgian architect Arsukisdze, though the site itself is even older dating back to the early 4th century and is surrounded by a number of legends associated primarily with the early Christian traditions.
It is the second largest church building in the country, after the recently consecrated Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral, and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other historical monuments of Mtskheta.
The interior walls are painted with frescoes, most of which have not survived in their original state. In the 1830s, when Czar Nicholas I was scheduled to visit Mskheta, the frescoes were all whitewashed, although in the end the Czar never came. Today, after much careful restoration, some few remnants survive including fragments of a 13th-century Beast of the Apocalypse and figures of the Zodiac.