The region of Samtskhe-Javakheti today is part of old Meskheti and includes three historical provinces- Samtskhe, Javakheti and Tori. The region has favorable geopolitical location, which helps to develop commercial, economic and cultural relationships with neighbour countries. Samtskhe- Javakheti region is one of the most important and cultural furthered provinces of Georgia. It is rich with monuments of cultural heritage- starting from settlement, belonging to early antique age and burial mounds, ending with fortress settlements. From the natural features of the region, petrified flora on the eastern slope of Goderdzi Pass, also called “Goderdzi Petrified Forest”, dating from tertiary period, also, here is Javakheti National Park, one of the main routes of bird migration. Samtskhe- Javakheti is considered by the scholars as the cradle of Georgian Grain, as there were uncovered Wine Qvevri (clay vat) and Wine Cellars in such places, where grapes doesn’t grow for centuries. Samtskhe- Javakheti is utterly full with the most important recreational resources of Georgia.
Borjomi is the best known and most popular resort in Georgia, located 155 km away from Tbilisi, between the magnificent slopes of Meskheti and Trialeti ranges, which are covered with wide pine forests. River Mtkvari divides Borjomi in two parts. In the environs of the town of Borjomi, the gorge has a canyon like form, which was created as a result of a “break in” of Bakuriani lava inside. Benefits of Borjomi mineral waters were enjoyed for centuries. This is proved by 7 baths made of cut stone uncovered by our archeologists and dating from the beginning of our age. The special recreational power of the gorge stems from micro-climate peculiarities and dark coniferous forests. Winter here is moderately cold, with little snow, stable snow cover from the end of December until the first decade of March. Borjomi mineral water with its curing qualities is known in the world as the Queen of mineral waters. From XIX century it became very popular, after the Russian Emperor’s family built countryside residence palace here. Borjomi mineral water is used to treat chronic gastritis, diseases of the alimentary tract, diabetes, liver and metabolism. Borjomi gorge has a unique beauty, that is related to the diversity of natural environments. There are many resorts in Borjomi gorge, where holiday -makers spend vacations both, in summer and in winter. Here, in Borjomi is also very distinguished the Green Monastery, where you can’t find the same coloured green trees, every leaf has its own, one and only green.
Not far from this gorge is located world famous mountain and skiing resort of Bakuriani. Bakuriani is located on the northern knees of Trialeti, in the gorge of river Bakurianistskhali, 1,700 meters above the sea level. Bakuriani is an outstanding point of mountain ski sport in Georgia, which is related to favorable climate conditions. Winter here is long, cold and snowy. Average thickness of snow cover is 64 cm, that is a precondition for development of winter sports. There are several functioning ski tracks and technologically equipped ski- jumps here. On the border of the Bakuriani is located a botanical garden, set up at the beginning of last century. There are some 1,500 species of Alpine, moderate belt of mountain systems, Kavkasioni and exotic plants. In Soviet times, Bakuriani hosted winter sport competitions of various levels. Members of the Soviet Olympic teams gathered there for training sessions. Fascinated by location and scenery of the resort, guests called Bakuriani “Capital of Soviet skiing sport” and “Soviet Davos”.
On the bank of river Mtkvari, between mountains in Likani, a park with centennial oaks and pine trees was laid out. In the center of the park stands Romanov Palace, with decorative plants and small gardens around it. The palace compound consists of 7 buildings. The main Palace is erected in Mauritanian style and is noted with its original architectural features, as it has different forms from all sides.
Palace halls are also arranged in different styles. The palace was a favorable place not only for the Romanov family, but here also used to come in Soviet times Joseph Stalin. Nowadays, this park is home to many rare species, as a Spanish fir-tree, brown beech, silver spruce, red chestnut and so on… From Likani Palace one can see the early feudal age fortress of Peter, built on the rock, that belonged to the family of prince Avaliashvili.
Abastumani is known in the world for its Astrophysical Observatory, located on Mount Kanobili, in 240 km from Tbilisi, 1650 meters above the sea level. Founded in 1932 year, it was the first Astrophysical Observatory in the former Soviet Union.
It is also distinguished for its sound air related to dark coniferous forests. The spring season is especially wholesome, when pine-trees start pollinating. While breathing yellow dust gets into the lungs and makes a positive impact on them. Abastumani is also known for mineralized springs. Those mineral wares are used for treatment of numerous diseases… In the vicinity of Abastumani is located Borjomi- Kharagauli national park, petrified flora of Goderdzi plateau, several resorts and tens of historical and cultural attractions of national importance.
Akhaltsikhe is one of the oldest towns of Georgia. There was a time, when it was the part of the Ottoman empire and the visitors can feel the cultural difference between then towns and other towns in Georgia. It used to be the most important center of prisoner slave trade. The historical part of the town was built on the rocky mount, called- Rabat, that means a settlement of merchants and artisans in the medieval town.
Here is also located the fortress of Sargis Jakeli, church of St. Marina, palace of Pashas of Akhaltsikhe, Ottoman mosque, Karavan- Sarai, baths… On the territory of Rabat in Akhaltsikhe today operates the local history museum.
Another most important sighting is Georgia, is Vani Caves. Vani Cave Monastery complex carved in the rock is located in Javakheti, 27 km from Aspindza. On the center of the monastery stands the church of St. George, which was carved from the stone along with the main part of the caves and cells in IX-XI cc. Vani Caves include 200 caves carved in the rock- cells, anterooms, burial site, asylum, support stock rooms, communication caves and 6 churches, which are arranged on 16 floors. This is really amazing place, especially when you imagine, how people lived there, hiding from the predators. Even water pool and remnants of 3 tracks of running water are extant here.
And the last one, legendary Vardzia. Vardzia monastery has the width of 0,5 km and is arranged on 13 floors. It consists of 2 parts- rock village of Ananuri, and the monastery itself, built in 5 stages: on the first stage was curved first cells and a church. On the second stage, in the center of the monastery was carved a hall church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary with Stoa. On the third stage, construction of stockrooms and cells, fortification and imagination facilities were over. On the fifth stage there was carved a big refectory. Overall, Vardzia consists of 420 utility rooms. Among them are 25 wine cellars with 185 barrels. There are 2, 3, 4-room living cells consisting of a gate, a room and a stockroom. There are also wide cavities carved in the walls of rooms-just to lie , and small niches- for books and earthen saucer. Today one can see 12 chapels in the monastery. Vardzia is also rich with fresco paintings. In the XII century church of Assumption of Virgin Mary there are images of donators : George III, Queen Tamar, Rati Surameli. There are also scenes from the New Testament. Painting of Ananauri church belongs to the XVI century.