The Sioni Cathedral is situated in historical Sioni Street in downtown Tbilisi, with its eastern façade fronting the right embankment of the Mtkvari River. Following a medieval Georgian tradition of naming churches after particular places in the Holy Land, the Sioni Cathedral bears the name of Mount Zion at Jerusalem. It is commonly known as the “Tbilisi Sioni” to distinguish it from several other churches across Georgia bearing the name Sioni.
The Sioni Cathedral was started in 500 during the reign of King Guaram of Iberia and completed in 620 when King Adarnese I ruled. The cathedral was destroyed by foreign invaders and reconstructed many times through its history. The general structure dates from Georgia’s Golden Age in the 13th century. In the 19th century using the designs of Grigory Gagarin the whole church was repainted. Today, Gagarin’s frescoes are visible in the upper parts of the cathedral. The frescoes decorating the lower walls are very modern. These were completed in 1989 and are the work of the artist Levan Tsutskiridze. All the icons in the cathedral are Georgian.