- the heart of Kiziqi which is the most picturesque corner of Kakheti
, is lying on the South-Eastern slopes of Tsiv-Gombori range. The townlet is overlooking Alazani Valley from the height. Its elevation from the Valley is 400 m. The name of the town derives from Turkic word and means ‘shelter’, or, according to other historical sources, ‘invincible’.
, the townlet was considered the king’s estate. The foremost geographic location gave Signagi a strategic importance. It was crossed by trade routes arising from Tbilisi, Hereti and Telavi. That is why the townlet was shaped up as a venue of craftsmen and merchants. After the fall of Hornabuji, Signagi became the center of Kiziqi and important town. In 1762 king Erekle II turned it into a royal residence and surrounded it with a wall surviving up to the present nearly unchanged. The wall encompasses an area of roughly 40 ha and is the largest fortified structure in Georgia. In 2005-2008 with the support of the Ministry of Culture and the President of Georgia, Signagi underwent a fundamental rehabilitation program. Infrastructure was changed, the wall was revived and streets renovated, buildings were given back historical, century-old appearance. Today the sights of the town include several museums, namely, Museum of Archeology and Ethnology which houses a unique collection of a self-educated artist, Niko Pirosmanishvili. In the fall, a wine festival is usually held in Signagi where wineries and alcohol-producing companies of Georgia present their products – wines of kvevri (clay vats), wines produced in European-style and Georgian farmers (so called ‘peasants’) domestic wines. Festival also hosts specimens of popular handicrafts – felt, quilt, rugs, carpets, flutes and panduri (three-stringed national lute).
The wall of Signagi was erected without foundation, with cobble stone, sand and limestone. There are stone steps arranged in several spots to embark on it. The wall has two levels. In the upper-level walls there are direct and lowered down firing ports placed in sequence. There are 23 2- and 3-story towers built in the wall with the diameter of 3-3,5 m and height of 4-5 m. The towers bear the names of Kiziqi villages. During foreign invasions each tower was a shelter to the villagers of relevant name.
The nunnery of St. Nino and Episcopal center of Bodbe
(Kiziqi) Eparchy is 2 km away from Signagi. The monastery was built in IV c. on the tomb of St. Nino who baptized Georgia. Bodbe is home to active monastic life. Near the spring of water which emerged, as the locals believe, due to prayers of St. Nino, there is ablution site and a small church. The spring is assigned miraculous therapeutic properties and every day it is visited by crowds of people.
Sighnaghi is very close to Tbilisi. It's only 100km. So it's easy to get there by taxi or public transport. There are many minibuses starting from Samgori Bus Station. 1 or 2 days are enough to see the most interesting attractions in Sighnaghi.
Location: South-Eastern slopes of Gombori Range
Elevation from Sea level: 720 m
Climate: mild and humid, winter mild, with no snow, mean temperature in January 2 degrees centigrade; summer very mild, moderately humid, mean temperature in August 24,3 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 810 mm
Duration of annual sunny light: 2200 h.