Georgia, part of the Near East, takes you to the country east of the Black Sea and south of the Greater Caucasus. The land area is taken up to 87% by mountains and foothills. The highest mountain below is the Shchara in the Greater Caucasus, the summit of which is 5,068 m. At an altitude of 2,190 m, the Voronya Cave is the deepest known cave in the world, and the largest lake in Georgia, Parawani, is located at an altitude of 2,073 m. In addition to these natural peculiarities, the nature of the Landes with around 4,100 plant species is immensely diverse and that of the 44% still mostly original forest, 5% are primeval forest. Also in the natural area of Georgia: sulfur baths, such as that of Tbilisi, and winter sports resorts, such as the Gudauri ski area. What else vacation in Georgia has to offer are beaches on the Caucasian Riviera and an immense wealth of cultural and historical sights. To see in Tbilisi, where you can visit the Narikala fortress, the Sioni Cathedral, Metechi and Anchiskhati Church and the historical museum with its treasury, which also has a beautiful old town. Mtskheta, the former capital, offers above all remarkable sacred buildings. The cave city of Vardsia provides an insight into the golden age of Georgia with around 3,000 rooms, some of which are artistically designed. Culturally worth seeing also in Signagi, a city embedded in a picturesque landscape, in which many houses have classic southern Italian architecture with typical Georgian building elements mixed in.
Gergetier Trinity Church
On the south-eastern border of Europe, in the mountains near Kazbegi, the picturesque Gergeti Trinity Church is enthroned. Located on the edge of the historic Georgian Military Road in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, one of the most famous sights from the early history of the country awaits visitors interested in culture. With appropriate weather conditions, there is a great view of the Kazbek, one of the highest mountains in the Caucasus. The panorama includes, among other things, the highest glaciers in the mountain range. Culture-loving travelers will also be impressed by the wild, romantic, historic and legendary landscape around Kazbegi.
The construction of the sacred complex (Georgian name: Gergetis Sameba) has not yet been precisely dated, but the architecture of the buildings suggests that it was built around the 14th or 15th century. The facility was expanded about a hundred years later with the addition of the historic council building on the south side of the main church.
According to old reports, a cross already existed at that point in earlier times, which speaks for the former religious significance of this place. The Georgian village of Gergeti, which no longer exists today, has been handed down as the namesake of the Gergeti Trinity Church. Only since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s has the church returned to its original purpose as a religious and cultural meeting place for the regional population.
The church complex, located at an altitude of 2,170 meters, consists of a domed church with a separate bell tower and the aforementioned council building. The church with its rectangular floor plan is the only church in northern Georgia that was built using a dome construction. The dome itself, the walls of the bell tower and the facade of the church are decorated with Georgian Orthodox motifs and ornaments. Made from solid stone blocks, the sacred building is kept very simple, which underlines its medieval character. A small downer: unfortunately, taking photos indoors is not permitted for reasons of monument protection.
The region around the Gergetier Dreifaltigkeitskirche has been one of the popular travel destinations in Georgia for years and is suitable for active, cultural or hiking trips as well as for exclusive study trips.
Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and is located in the middle of the Caucasian Isthmus, in the eastern part of the country. Traveling to the Georgian metropolis means entering new tourist territory, because the city is in a state of upheaval. For western visitors in particular, the city offers an abundance of sights that have hardly been known so far.
Relaxation in the traditional sulfur baths
Tibilissi is the Georgian name of the city and means “warm spring”, which is due to the numerous underground sulfur springs that gush out of the earth with temperatures between 36 ° C and 47 ° C. The carbonated water is said to have beneficial effects on neurological and urological diseases as well as osteoporosis, but also to alleviate various skin diseases.
Most of the bathhouses are located underground and are roofed with domes that are modeled on Persian architecture. The three most famous baths include the Royal Bath, the Orbeliani Bath and the oldest of the houses in Tbilisi, the Irakli Bath.
The old town of Tbilisi
The old town is primarily recommended for study trips. After it was destroyed by the Persians in 1795, the medieval structure with cobblestone streets and winding streets has largely been preserved after the reconstruction. The multi-storey brick houses, which impress with their spacious wooden balconies and external stairs, are particularly attractive.
Also interesting is the contrast between the many historical, but badly dilapidated houses and the renovated magnificent buildings, which are reminiscent of the splendor of bygone times. This idiosyncratic mixture has also given Tbilisi the name “Paris of the East”.
A view over Tbilisi
The city’s visible landmark is the 274-meter-high television tower. Unfortunately, there is no way to climb the tower as it does not have an observation deck that is accessible to visitors. A wonderful view over Tbilisi can be enjoyed at the foot of the tower from the Mtatsminda amusement park, especially from the gondolas of the Ferris wheel. The amusement park high above the city can be reached with a modern funicular.
Defense village of Ushguli
Ushguli is the highest permanently inhabited settlement in Europe. It is located in Svaneti, at the foot of Shkhara, the highest mountain in Georgia. About 70 families, that is about 250 people, live in the village, which is more than 2000 years old. For six winter months, snow covers the whole place and sometimes the road to Ushguli is therefore closed. However, a small school is always open and life goes on even at this lonely time. Ushguli is known for its defense towers and has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage in Georgia since 1996. In addition to the characteristic Svanetian defense towers, there are various religious buildings, such as a chapel from the 12th century.
Ushguli is located about 45 kilometers from the city of Mestia – the center of the Svaneti region. To get to Ushguli, jeeps are required, which can be rented in Mestia. The road to the village is uneven and takes about three hours. On the way you pass several villages, such as Ipari and Kala, where visitors can admire small churches with old wall paintings and frescoes. There are more than 20 medieval Svaneti protective towers in Ushguli. In the past, these towers offered protection from major natural disasters such as earthquakes and avalanches. When the lonely places were buried by avalanches, the top floors still protruded from the snow. Since the 10th century, no earthquake, no matter how strong, has been able to destroy the massive protective towers.
In a tower in the center of Ushguli there is now an ethnographic museum that displays icons and processional crosses from churches in this region and other parts of Georgia. A short hike above the village leads to a small hill on which the Lamaria chapel is located. This chapel is full of magnificent old frescoes. From there a wide valley leads through blooming alpine meadows to the foot of Mount Shkhara.
The excellent location of Ushguli and the unique lifestyle of the people make the area a popular travel destination in the Caucasus. Nature is still untouched here and tourists on hiking routes through Svanetia are accompanied by grandiose views, waterfalls and wonderful landscapes.