Imereti is a distinct historical-geographical region located in western Georgia. It is distinguished by the diversity of nature and the abundance of cultural monuments, which attract tourists in all seasons. This article presents the 10 best places you can visit in Imereti.
Kutaisi is the administrative center of Imereti and its main city. It has been inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC. Kutaisi has been an important center of Colchian culture since the 2nd millennium. Her old name is Aia. Today it is one of the largest cities in Georgia, where you can see many sights.
Kutaisi Botanical Garden is a popular place for relaxation, garden is located on the right bank of the river Rioni and features hundreds of shrubs or unique trees. While visiting the city, you can also visit the Historical-Ethnographic Museum, which was founded in 1912 and is one of the oldest museums in Georgia.
While in Kutaisi, you should definitely walk the streets of the city and enjoy its beauty. There is a boulevard in the center of the city, which has been enhancing Kutaisi for more than two centuries. On the main square, you will also find the Colchian fountain, which is represented by copies of typical samples of Georgian culture. For example, it is decorated with a famous golden lion figure. On the opposite side, you can visit the Kutaisi Lado Meskhishvili Professional State Drama Theatre, this is where the first Georgian play "Divorce" was staged in 1861.
You should not leave Kutaisi without visiting the famous White Bridge, the name of which corresponds to the color of the white stones of the river. It was considered to be the main gathering place of Kutaisi youth.
In addition to the city center itself, the suburbs of Kutaisi are also distinguished by the diversity of cultural monuments. Gelati Monastery is one of them, monastery complex is located 11 km from Kutaisi. It is an important cultural monument of Georgian history. Gelati was founded by David the Builder in 1106. Gelati Monastery is a complex that includes several buildings, including the Gelati Academy, where revived scientific-translation activities took place. Due to its uniqueness, the Gelati complex is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Bagrati Cathedral is located in Kutaisi, on Ukimerioni hill. Its foundation is connected to the first king of united Georgia, Bagrat III, who built it in 1003. The temple was significantly damaged after the Ottoman invasion in the 17th century and remained in ruins until 2010 when it was reconstructed and fully restored. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994 but was removed from the list in 2017 after restoration. It is an important monument both religiously and architecturally and is considered a symbol of Georgia's unity.
Another remarkable temple near Kutaisi is Motsameta, which was built in the XI century. The history of its foundation is connected with the names of the princes of Argveti - David and Konstantine Mkheidze, who heroically sacrificed themselves to the expedition of the Arab commander, Marwan the Deaf to Georgia. They were canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church, and their name was changed to "Motsameta" (Place of the Martyrs). The temple is located in the Tskaltsitela gorge and from there, there are wonderful views of Imereti.
Imereti is distinguished by the abundance of karst caves. Already in 2007, the protected areas of Imereti caves were created, which indicates the unique geography of this region.
There are two most famous caves in Imereti.Sataplia Cave is a part of Sataplia Strict Nature Reserve, which is located 9 km from Tskaltubo. Sataplia is known for the dinosaur footprints found in this area. You can organize camping, photo tours, bird watching, and ecological-educational tours here.
No less popular is Prometheus Cave, one of the richest caves in Europe. The walking distance for tourists is about 1 km. This cave is the only one in Georgia where tourists can take a boat ride on the underground lake.
Okatse Canyon is located in Khoni Municipality, near the village of Gorda. It has become a popular place for tourists in recent years. The length of the canyon is 2 km. It is distinguished by the abundance of waterfalls, among which the largest is the Kinchkha Waterfall. The tourist infrastructure is well-maintained in the place, paths are arranged, from where the beautiful views of the valley can be seen.
Katskhi pillar is located near Chiatura. It is about 40 meters. It is about 40 meters high. The ruins of an ancient temple are preserved on it. Many legends are associated with this pillar. Studies have shown that this place must have been the abode of monks in the Middle Ages. Today, the temple on the Katskhi pillar has been restored and a hermit monk lives in it. It can be reached by a 131-meter staircase, which takes about 20 minutes to climb. Unfortunately, women are not allowed on the Katskhi pillar.
Tskhrajvari is located in Tkibuli municipality, near Nakerala pass. It is 1500 meters above sea level and overlooks Tkibuli. This place invites lovers of hiking and camping, as it is distinguished by the beauty of nature and wonderful views of Imereti. To reach Tskhrajvari, the car goes halfway, while the rest of the road is pedestrian and is a road of medium difficulty.
This place has religious significance. Every year on the last Saturday of May the "Tskhrajvaroba" is celebrated, especially in Tkibuli and nearby villages.
Vani's archaeological site is located near the town of Vani and dates back to the VIII century. BC. Vani was the cultural center of old Kolkheti. Ancient artifacts and tombs have been found here. Vani Archaeological Museum is located in Vani, the collection of which includes the rich cultural heritage found in the city of Vani. If you are attracted to history and especially the antique era, then you should definitely visit Vani. This place has great potential to become an important cultural and scientific center in the region.
10. Ubisa Monastery
Ubisa Monastery is located in Kharagauli Municipality and is a unique chapel and monastery complex. It dates back to the IX century and was a favorite vacation spot of Queen Tamar. The painting of the temple, which dates back to the XIV century, is also unique. Books have been copied here for centuries, there have been schools of stamping and icon painting.
The monastery is located close to the main highway and is easy to reach by car.