24 December, 2021

Top 10 Places to Visit in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Category: Interesting Places

You will discover many impressive sights in every part of Georgia. Each of them distinguishes with unique beauty and has a different story to tell. That's why every region of Georgia is worth visiting!

Visiting Samtskhe-Javakheti is a must-do for the traveler. Apart from the picturesque nature and numerous historical buildings, the place is rich in cultural diversity and delicious cuisine. Samtskhe-Javakheti is located on the volcanic plateau of the Lesser Caucasus, southern Georgia. This means that it has quite a difficult terrain and surfaces. The region is ethnically and religiously diverse, making life in this region attractive.

We should also mention the unique cuisine of Samtskhe-Javakheti, with its integral ingredient - cheese. You will meet many types of local cheese in the region. Among them, Meskhetian cheese or Tenili cheese is most distinguished, which is kept in a clay pot, late in spring, when the grass is the most fertile. It is a kind of delicacy here. The bread is especially in demand in this "southern gate" of Georgia. Lavashi and Shoti originate from Samtskhe-Javakheti.

In this article we will introduce you to the top places in Samtskhe-Javakheti, that will help you to discover Georgia better.

Vardzia, Samtskhe-Javakheti

1. Vardzia

There is a legend on naming this place, which many Georgians have heard since childhood. King George III went hunting with his young daughter Tamar (Queen Tamar). While hunting the king did not pay attention to the girl who wandered into the caves alone. While others started searching her, Tamar exclaimed - I am here uncle! (literally "aka var dzia") That is how this place was called Vardzia.

Vardzia is a monastic complex cave that was formed in the XII - XIII centuries. The multi-story, clearly carved city is built around a temple located at the base of the rock. There are more than 600 rooms situated on tiers. We also meet tunnels in the ground, the main purpose of which was to supply the city with water. There are also 28 cellars, which have included 235 Qvevri.

In Vardzia there are 15 rock churches. Due to their location, they don't distinguish by luxurious decorations and usual church equipment. The main characteristic here is the frescoes. This is where the ancient fresco of Queen Tamar is preserved.

It should be noted that the President of Georgia gave Vardzia the status of Immovable Cultural Monument of National Significance of Georgia and is also included in the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.

This is a place you should visit more than once.

თმოგვის ციხე fortress Tmogvi

2. Tmogvi Castle

Tmogvi Fortress is one of the oldest buildings in Samtskhe-Javakheti, which has had a political significance since the X century. From this place, it was possible to control the road from Asia, through Mtkvati ravine.

The castle itself is built on a high rocky mountain, from where stunning landscapes unfold. The western part is more preserved, as it has three stories built with wall-piers on a steep slope. In the past, on this place, tunnels ran through the rocks. One ending of a tunnel connected the castle to the citadel and the other one - to the river Mtkvari. Outside the castle, in the western ravine, in a rock mass, the Church of St. Ephraim is carved into the rock, with an iconostasis. In the ruins of the domed church, there are fragments of the 13th-century wall paintings.

The President of Georgia gave Tmogvi Fortress the status of Immovable Cultural Monument of National Significance of Georgia.

ხერთვისის ციხე

3. Khertvisi Castle

Khertvisi Fortress is one of the most remarkable historic buildings in southern Georgia. Due to its location, the feudal lords always had to reconstruct the castle, and therefore it is difficult to determine its construction date.

The main part of the castle is occupied by the citadel, which is situated on a rocky edge of the mountain. Every traveler will love this place, as the castle overlooks two beautiful valleys and splendid views around them.

In the west, there is a St. George Church-Chapel. Due to its inaccessible location, it has a single entrance. The church itself has a plain design without any great decoration. According to one source, the construction of the fortress is connected to Bagrat III.

Khertvisi Fortress is inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

ზარზმის მონასტერი

4. Zarzma Monastery

Zarzma Monastery is one of the most valuable monuments of Georgian architecture. While traveling in Samtskhe-Javakheti, visiting this magical place is a must-do. At present, only the domed church, the bell tower, and a few single-nave chapels are preserved on the site.

You will find the parts of the clergy in the monastery crypt. There is also an incorruptible corpse that dates back to the X century. In the monastery, you will find the icon of the Transfiguration of Zarzma - a work of Georgian art from the feudal era.

Zarzma Monastery has the status of Immovable Cultural Monument of National Significance of Georgia.

რაბათის ციხე Rabati fortress

5. Akhaltsikhe (Rabati) Castle

Rabati Castle was one of the most important defensive objects in the history of Georgia. Its walls have withstood many attacks and today it has become one of the most beautiful tourist attractions in Georgia. We should mention, that despite the fighting with many enemies, Georgia did not destroy the shrine mosque of the former enemy and, even carried out its restoration. Today it has a unique historical and tourist value.

At present, the complex is fully rehabilitated and can host a large number of visitors daily. The fence, the citadel, the Orthodox Church of the IX-X centuries, the madrasa, the Haji Ahmed-Pasha Jaqeli mosque, the minaret, and the Jaqeli Palace, were renovated, where the exhibition hall of the Samtskhe-Javakheti History Museum was opened.

The combination of old and new buildings makes this historical place even greater, and its walls are an eternal sample of Georgian history.


6. Tabatskuri Lake

Tabatskuri, one of the most beautiful lakes in Georgia, is located in the eastern part of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is located at 1991 meters above sea level. The village of Tabatskuri is built on a peninsula that juts out into the lake.

The lake is still stunning even in winter when it is frozen. This is an ideal place to take photos. With the background of magical mountains and blue freshwater, every photo looks great. The local climate is changing very fast and from sunny weather, the environment can suddenly get covered in fog.

In addition to beautiful landscapes and blue water, you can visit various interesting places in the village of Tabatskuri. Here you will meet the Red Church of Tabatskuri, which according to one version must be built in the X century. A little further, there is a 19th-century Armenian church, and on the hill, there is another shrine - Ninokala.

7. Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory

If you want to take a closer look at space, you can do it in Georgia. Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory receives visitors regularly. There is the best sky since the stars appear clearly.

From the very first year of the founding observatory, the institution has been actively engaged in the study of the total solar eclipse process. To date, more than 30 scientific expeditions have been conducted in different parts of the world. At the observatory, you can also visit a small museum where you will find different types of telescopes and historical objects. It is also possible to observe different celestial objects, to take a closer look at the various planets of the solar system and the moon.

This is the window through which the whole universe can be seen.

მწვანე მონასტერი green monastery

8. Mtsvane (Green) Monastery

Mtsvane Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries near the village of Chitakhevi. The history of its foundation is connected with the name of Grigol Khandzteli's disciples - Theodore and Christopher.

The Georgian holy place, hidden in the wonderful greenery of Javakheti, is a unique monument throughout the region. There are three basilica-type churches and a bell tower on the site, where you can still find ornaments typical of Georgian architecture. In addition to visiting the church, you can also take a walk in nature and get convinced of the magic of this place.

9. Lake Paravani

Lake Paravani, located on the volcanic mountains of Javakheti, is the largest in Georgia with its surface area. This place is beautiful every season. In summer, visitors enjoy its freshwater, and in winter its frozen surface, the thickness of which reaches up to 80 centimeters, and you can walk freely there.

The lake is surrounded by wide and unique landscapes. You will enjoy every part of this place. It is an ideal atmosphere for capturing memories.

You can also visit various sights near the lake. Here you will find Poka Nunnery of St. Nino, from where the journey of St. Nino, began. You can also visit Shaori Castle and the ruins of old Caravanserai of Paravani nearby.

10. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, covers about 108,000 hectares, more than 1.5% of Georgia's territory. It is spread in several regions of Georgia.

Most of the area is covered with pristine forests. You can find forests of spruce, fir, and pine on the site. The total number of plant species in the park exceeds 1200. There are 217 species of migratory and nesting birds in the park, 13 of which are included in the "Red List" of Georgia. In the territory of the national park, we meet rare species of mammals, including Caucasian Red deer, brown bear, lynx, caucasian chamois, and others.

There are specially marked trails on the site, which are an important guide for tourists. There are also specially arranged campsites nearby, where you can light a fire and have fun.

Tags: #vardzia #Interesting places #Samtskhe-Javakheti #თმოგვვის ციხე #ხერთვისის ციხე #ზარზმის მონასტერი #რაბათის ციხე #ტაბაწყურის ტბა #აბასთუმანი #ფარავნის ტბა

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