Mtskheta mətskhyĕt´ə [key], town (1989 pop. 9,588), W central Georgia, on the Kura River and the Georgian Military Road. It was the capital of ancient Iberia until the 6th cent. AD, when the capital was moved to Tbilisi; Mtskheta remained the religious center of the country. The Sveti-Tskhoveli cathedral (11th cent.; destroyed by Timur; rebuilt 15th cent.) contains the burial vaults of Georgian rulers. The Samtavro cathedral (11th cent.) was restored in 1903. In the hills near the town are ruins of the Dzhvari temple of the late 6th or early 7th cent.
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