Must-See Places in Racha
It is a well-known fact, that Georgia attracts tourists with its rich culture and marvelous nature.
That is why it is difficult for us to answer the question: "Where to go?". The regions of our country have many such places that fit the taste of any person. Racha is exactly that place. It is located in the northeastern part of western Georgia and is distinguished with its famous architecture, resorts, cuisine, and diverse nature, mostly with amazing, colorful lakes, which reflect the breathtaking views of Racha like a mirror.
It is said that if you travel to this region at least once, you will wish to return.
Here are some tips on GTG on what to see in Racha, that will be useful. You will discover sights such as Shaori Reservoir, Utsera, Ghebi, Shovi, Udziro (bottomless) Lake, Sakinule (freezer) Cave, Rachvelian Rtveli (vintage), Barakoni Church of the Mother of God, and of course Nikortsminda, which is considered to be a masterpiece of Georgian architecture. If you are a fan of not only nature and cultural monuments, but also entertainment, the ROKVA festival awaits you, in Shovi. The music festival is being held for the third time. Together with local musicians, it also brings together artists from the international scene and promises many interesting, memorable moments to the guests.
So, let's start:
Shaori is one of the most impressive lakes/reservoirs, especially in autumn. If you decide to visit it in the fall, prepare for a fabulous environment as the water reflects the colorful trees. In summer, the place is cool and pleasant for those who want to go hiking or picnic. The lake is also famous for its variety of fish, so you will meet many fishermen on the spot. You should start your visit to Racha with Shaori. It is located in a forested area surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Caucasus. The ancient villages of Racha are located around Shaori: Nikortsminda, Cheliaghele, Tlughi, the administrative center Ambrolauri and others. This place is rich in flora and fauna, rivers, waterfalls, dense forests, karst caves, and healing waters. Shaori is an excellent summer resort due to its unique climate. Moderately hot summers, perfect fresh air, and Lake Shaori itself. During the winter, the high mountain slopes make Shaori an attractive winter resort.
The resort Utsera is located 1500 meters above sea level in Oni Municipality, Racha. The main characteristic of this place is the climate, which is distinguished by its healing-balneological properties. Winters are moderately cold at -5°C, while the average summer temperature is 17°C.
In addition to the mountain climate, the resort is distinguished with fabulous forests and landscapes. The unique lane of eight-year-old oak trees is especially interesting. Utsera became famous as the balneological resort through the healing-mineral water - Utsera. In the village, you will meet the feudal church, which is called "Sioni", as well as the ruins of the castle and the church of St. George. If you would rather spend your vacation in the mountains, than by the sea, then this place is definitely for you. Here you will be able to unwind in nature and work remotely in the fresh air, in a comfortable environment. Perfect for planning hikes, picnics, and various activities related to going out in nature. It does not matter what part of the season you choose to spend your vacation - you will find it just as beautiful in summer as in autumn.
The village of Ghebi is located 1350 meters above sea level, on the left bank of the river Rioni, in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region. It is situated 35 km away from Oni. You will meet various historical monuments in Ghebi. Here stands the Church of the Archangel and several monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. Ghebi has been inhabited since ancient times: BC. Pit-tombs, where gold jewelry, bronze buckles with images of animals, and a sculpture of a silver bull's head were found, are dating back to the III-I centuries AD. Metallurgical sites and Late Bronze Age tumuli of the XVI-X centuries, BC are found in Ghebi, which the Rachvelian people call "fragments of Gogrichiani".
Ghebi was the only settlement in Racha, where people lived in towers, but over time most of the towers were destroyed by earthquakes and only a few of them survived.
Ghebi has been mentioned in historical sources since 1503. An interesting fact about the name of the village is that it means a deep place in the Svan language and the history of its foundation is connected with folk. According to legend, the painter who accidentally killed a man fled from Lechkhumi to the mountains of Racha. Since then he started painting (mghebroba) and that is why this village was called Ghebi. Since then, people with different surnames migrated from different regions and settled in the village.
Shovi is located in Upper Racha, 30 kilometers away from the town of Oni. Shovi is one of the most famous climatic and balneological resorts in Racha. The resort is characterized by a humid climate in winter and the average temperature here is - 6 °C, and in summer - 16 °C. Shovi, located at the bottom of Mamison Pass, is famous for its healing alpine climate and mineral waters. The area covered with coniferous forests and alpine meadows is rich in mineral waters. That is why a lot of visitors gather in the sanatoriums, guesthouses, and cottages every year. The holiday season lasts - June-October. The construction of the resort area began in the 20s of the 20th century and was ceremoniously opened in 1929. Here are treated the following diseases: asthma, chronic bronchitis, lymphadenitis, inflammation of the gallbladder, gastrointestinal problems, anemia, and more.
The Udziro lake is located 2800 meters above sea level near the villages of Glola and Shovi, on the western slope of the peak Katitsvera, Oni Municipality, Racha. It is one of the most popular locations and gathers hiking and adventure lovers.
There is a beautiful view of the Caucasus from the lake. The Udziro lake hiking route starts from the village of Shovi and ends in the village of Glola. The route is circular, the walking distance is about 18 km and it takes two days to cover it. The trail is marked on both, forest and alpine sections and the risk of getting lost is reduced to a minimum.
The Sakinule (freezer) natural cave is located near the village of Nikortsminda, in Ambrolauri municipality, Racha. A deep natural cave-well in the rock, where the temperature is equal to zero degrees in any season, is situated 1200 meters above sea level. You will find it 3 km from the village of Nikortsminda. In the cave, you will meet ice stalactites, stalagmites, centuries-old ice columns (some columns are 8 meters high and some have a circumference of 20 meters), and cascades.
Racha is small, but one of the most different and interesting regions in terms of winemaking. The Ambrolauri region plays a great part in this fact. Grape varieties are local in Racha.
Every year since October, Rachvelian vintage is held here, which anyone can attend.
As for the famous wines - Khvanchkara (produced since 1932) is made from Alexandrouli and Mujuretuli grapes (Aleksandrouli and Mujuretuli can withstand frosts of -15-18 degrees) and is a well-known taste for semi-sweet wine lovers. Aleksandrouli wine is made from the vine variety with the same name. We did not have written information about Aleksandrouli until the 19th century, although according to folklore, it turns out that King Aleksander bred and spread this variety. Though, it is unknown which Aleksander we are talking about. There is also speculation that this variety must have been imported from Aleksandria.
Barakoni is a large monument of old Georgian domed church architecture, located near the village of Tsesi, Racha. Barakoni the cross-domed, facade church is alike to Svetitskhoveli with an interior and upper windows. According to Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, "Barakoni" means "white sparkling".
To the northwest of Barakoni stood the church of the former feudal era, which was built by the first duke of Racha, Rati Liparit's son, as its court church. Today only its foundation is left. By the order of Eristavi of Racha Rostom, in 1753, a new church was built by master Avtandil Shulavreli.
The domed church of Nikortsminda was first built in 1010-1014 in the village of Nikortsminda, in the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region, according to the inscription of its western entrance. In 1534 the building was renovated by the King of Imereti - Bagrat III. Under his command, a large church named after St. Nicholas was erected, which became the cultural center of this territorial unit: "We, King Bagrat ... build a monastery and we set up a cathedral for the episcopate..."
The three-story bell tower erected in the courtyard of the temple was built in the second half of the XIX century. The frescoes of the church are painted in the same period.
Since October 24, 2007, Nikortsminda Monastery has been included in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We wish you a journey full of adventures and emotions!