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Racha is a distinctive region of Georgia, located in the northwestern part of the country. It is rich in cultural monuments and diverse nature. Racha is an attractive place for many tourists, as the famous sights are located here. The purpose of this article is to show you the ten best places you can visit in Racha.
Nikortsminda is a famous monastery complex, which is a domed-type temple and was built in the early 11th century. The construction of it was initiated by the first king of United Georgia, Bagrat III, who made this place the center of Saeristavo (a territorial unit in old Georgia). During this period, great attention was paid to the decorations of the facades, by which the Nikortsminda Monastery is distinguished from other temples in Georgia. It is also unique cause it has not undergone major changes during its existence and the dome of the temple has survived to the present day in its original form. Due to all the facts, Nikortsminda Monastery was included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2007.
You can not get to Racha without passing Shaori Reservoir. Its surrounding beautiful nature attracts any passerby and is the best place to take a break on the road and enjoy the landscapes of Racha. The reservoir is enclosed by a hollow covered with deciduous trees and formed by the flooding of the River Shaori. Its ambiance is not arranged yet but has great potential to turn into a modern type of resort. The Shaori Reservoir attracts people who love wandering and looking for places to camp. It is also noteworthy that the reservoir area is distinguished by its healing properties.
Shovi resort is located in Oni municipality and is considered to be the highest mountain resort in Georgia (situated at an altitude of 1600 meters). It is surrounded by the Caucasus ridge and deciduous forests. Shovi is also known as a healing resort for the healing properties of its air, which is used for the complex treatment of diseases. Shovi is also famous for its mineral waters.
Waterfall of Love is located at the entrance of Ambrolauri, Gurgeniani Street. The waterfall flows on the surface of a mossy rock. It is distinguished from other waterfalls by its heart-shaped entrance cavern. This is what made this waterfall a popular place for tourists to take photos. The Waterfall of Love was also named because of the shape of the entrance.
Minda Castle ("I want" Castle) is a famous medieval castle located in the Ambrolauri municipality at the confluence of the Rioni and Lukhuni rivers. According to legend, the name of Queen Tamar is associated with its construction. It is located on a high rocky promontory between rivers. The origin of its name is an interesting story. Some people attribute it to Queen Tamar, who said: "Here, I want a castle" as she decided to build a castle in this place. According to the second version, its name was associated with the inaccessibility of the fortress and the enemy always wanted to take it but could not. It was an important fortress of Racha Saeristavo, on which trade routes from Kvemo Racha and Kvemo Svaneti to Racha passed. It is located on the road to Barakoni and can be reached by any type of vehicle.
Barakoni is located in Ambrolauri Municipality, at the confluence of the Rioni and Lukhuni rivers. Due to its geographical location, it is often compared to Svetitskhoveli. Together with Nikortsminda, it is the largest temple of Racha. Barakoni Church was built in the XVIII century. The history of its construction is narrated in the inscriptions on the walls of the temple, and the architecture is attributed to Avtandil Shulavreli. Barakoni was the residence of the Racha nobility. A palace stood near the church and various cultural-historical monuments were also located there. The 1991 earthquake severely damaged it.
The village of Lailashi is located at the confluence of the Lajanuri and Askistskali rivers in Tsageri municipality. The name is associated with the Arabic language and means "night". There is another version that the name may be related to beauty. This resort is especially famous for its pool on a mountain slope from where beautiful views of the mountains and the Lajanuri Reservoir unfold. In addition to the beautiful nature, this resort is also known for its healing waters. It is an interesting fact that the documentary footage of Akaki Tsereteli's trip in 1912 was shot here. There are also shots for the movie "Me, Grandma, Iliko, and Hilarion". Lailashi is also known for its ethnic diversity.
Tsageri municipality is also distinguished by natural sights. Among them, the Sairme columns take a special place. It is located near the resort Sairme on the left side of the Tsablari water valley. There is a hiking route, the length of which is 3 km. From the pass, the road goes into a forest, 1 km of which can be covered by a car. From this place, there are stunning views of Racha, although this sight is not popular among tourists yet.
Udziro Lake is located in Oni municipality, at an altitude of 2800 meters above sea level. The lake overlooks the Caucasus Mountains. The access road to the lake is 18 km long, the route is circular and it starts 1 km before the Shovi. It should be noted that the route is fully marked on both forest and alpine sections. It takes two days to complete the road. The whole route is of medium difficulty, so it is better to supply water from the starting point and prepare for an exhausting and long hike. You can camp near the lake. It is possible to return from the Udziro lake by another way, which runs along the path to the village of Glola and you can cover it in 3-4 hours.
Utsera is a famous climatic and balneological resort of Racha, located on the banks of the river Rioni at 1050 meters above sea level. It attracts many tourists every year. Utsera is distinguished by healing factors - mountain climate and mineral water "Utsera". Utsera is an attractive vacation spot in summer and fall. You can also visit four medieval churches and the ruins of a fortress here.