WHAT TO DO IN SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI REGION
The surrounding mountains offer numerous possibilities for both challenging and scenic mountain trips, for example the up and down Kohkta Gora (2,150 m. above sea level) or the road from Bakuriani to Tabatskuri Lake via Tskhra-Tskaro Pass (24 km).
The open pastures groves of oak and nut trees which around offer perfect terrain for horseback riding.
Bakuriani is one of the most attractive flying sites in Georgia. The micro-climate is very favorable for air sports. From Kokhta mountain flights are possible in many different directions. The surrounding area is immensely attractive, with breathtaking views offering diverse possibilities.
RAFTING ON THE RIVER MTKVARI
If you have a passion for extreme sports, are not afraid of a fast mountain river, and if you like to feel an adrenalin rush - for you rafting on the river Mtkvari will be a real treat. Test your rafting skills. The dizzy speed of the river, the cool waves, picturesque banks and splendid sceneries of the Borjomi gorge will make your life healthier, more exciting and memorable.
SKIING IN BAKURIANI
Ski-jumps, ski-tracks, snow shoeing, horse-rides, horse-drawn sledges, snow-mobile - all can be found in Bakuriani.
One of the most interesting places to visit in Bakuriani is the Botanical Garden of European standards. It has been functioning since 1910. Its rich collection of plant specimens represents interesting examples of Alpine and Sub-Alpine vegetation.There are about 1500 species of plants here. The territory covers 17 hectares.
THE BORJOMI-KHARAGAULI NATIONAL PARK
The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is located in central Georgia and is part of the lesser Caucasus. The park is one of the largest in Europe - it covers more than 76,000 hectares of native forest and sub-alpine and alpine meadows, home to rare species of flora and fauna.
Home to the largest national park in Europe - the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park - Imereti is a paradise for nature lovers. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park has several entrances. One of them is located in village Marelisi of Kharagauli district. Borjomi-Kharagauli Park itself is the biggest in Europe with total area of 76,000 hectares, which is 1% of the total area of Georgia. There are a number of historical monuments on the Kharagauli side of the National Park. One of the most interesting ones is the "Iron Cross" Mountain, which is about 2,439 meters high.
Between the Sataplia Caves, the Marelisi Forest and the dramatic river gorges around Chiatura, the region has something for everyone.
Sataplia Reservation is located very close to Kutaisi, on Sataplia Mountain, with a total area of 354 hectares. There are numerous grottos, the most interesting being "Sataplia Cave", a natural crack rich with stalactites, stalagmites and curtains. Its total length is 600 meters and it has a little river flowing inside, which has carved this cave over the past 30 million years.
Over 200 dinosaur footprints have been discovered here, located on the stones in two rows. To the north of Sataplia cave, there is a flowering meadow on the cliff with a number of bee colonies. This was the reason for naming this area Sataplia ("place for honey").
For more information please visit: www.apa.gov.ge
RESORTS, SPAS AND MINERAL SPRINGS
BORJOMI MINERAL WATERS
The primary asset of Borjomi is its unique mineral waters that can certainly compete with other world famous mineral waters. Its natural high purity and healthy chemical components make it not only pleasant to drink but also a perfect preventive and curative means against a number of diseases. The water is rich in the most important and necessary microelements for a human organism. Each spring in the region is characterized by varying chemical properties and thus different medicinal affects. Additionally, the testes and temperature are unique at each spring. The water's curative effects were well known to the people of the ancient epoch The excavations in the area have found a stone tub dating back to the 1 st century A.C. pointing to the fact that the water's curative effects were well known to the people of the ancient epoch. It was used for taking thermal mineral water baths. Overtime this knowledge was forgotten, but in the 19th century it was discovered again.
MINERAL WATER PARK
The Mineral Water Park of Borjomi is marvelous in all seasons. It is difficult to say which season is the most pleasant and attractive; all of them have their own splendor and beauty. The park covering 30ha of the gorge coated with coniferous trees is the recreation center of Borjomi trees.
A famous mountainous snow resort of Georgia, Bakuriani is a paradise for ski-lovers. Many sportsmen come here to practice their skills. It is also a superb venue for children to take their first steps in winter sports, ideal for families and popular among the young generations.
About 30km after Akhaltsikhe you reach the famous spa Abastumani. The village is situated along the river Otskhe, which is crossed by numerous bridges. Impressive old buildings are witnesses of the glorious past at the end of the 19th century, but since then most of the health resorts were closed. However, two sanatoria have already been opened again and make use of the ideal circumstances to cure lung patients.
Abastumani is also a starting point for hikes into the National Park; the Zekari Pass can be either climbed on foot, horse or mountain bike, from where you will be rewarded with a 360�� panorama of alpine mountain peaks.
SAIRME - BAGHDATI
In the south-western part of the National Park region lies the area of Baghdati, which is famous for its wine. Sairme, some 25km away from the city of Baghdati, is known for its healing springs, which have been used for over a hundred years for kidney and bladder problems. The sanatorium is only open in summer; the varied surroundings however, are inviting to take a trip to all the year round.
Between Khashuri and Kharagauli on the northern edge of the National Park lies, deeply hidden in the subtropical forests, the health resort Nunisi. The church of St. Mary built in the end of the 6th century is too charming not to visit. However, the resort is famous for its mineral water springs. There is a Spa Hotel in Nunisi and a camp site at the National Park entrance, starting point for the trail to Zanavi.
In Marelisi, the National Park Guest House is a perfect base for starting hikes in the National Park, horse riding in and around the hills of Marelisi or just exploring the uniqueness of a traditional Georgian village. Beautiful hikes are possible around neighboring villages - along the water mills in Marelisi and/or 5 km to the ruins of the fortification in Vakhani.
Along the way from Khashuri to the turn off to Kharagauli lies Surami. In the golden age of Georgia, Surami used to be a flowering trading city and the seat of many ruling families. The fortress, built in the 11th century, is a majestic reminder of that time, situated on the other side of the valley.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI REGION
The oldest sources mentioning the town date back to the 12th c. Buildings here include a numerously altered fortress; former palace belonging to the rulers of Akhaltsikhe; a mosque built by the Ottomans in 1752; a palace-like structure, etc. The citadel is surrounded by old residential buildings, so-called hall type chambers and a bathhouse.
Atskuri is a former feudal fortress located on the right bank of Mtkvari River. The oldest records date back to the 10th century. The only entrance is a narrow tunnel cut into the cliff, which made the fortress so difficult to access that even once inside enemies were foiled by the guards.
Saphara Monastery is one of the most interesting monuments of Georgian architecture. It is located 15 kilometers in the south-east from Akhaltsikhe. The first records of Saphara date back to the 10th century. In the 13-14th centuries the monastery ensemble included 12 churches and chapels. The monastery is surrounded by a wall equipped with an observation tower and a fortress where people from neighboring villages used to hide during times of war. While the area was turned into a Pioneer youth camp in the Soviet age; the monastery reclaimed its status in 1988 and is still functioning.
GOLDEN FORTRESS (OKROSTSIKHE)
The fortress was built in late 13th and early 14th cc. is one of the largest fortresses in Georgia and offers a picturesque view from its highest towers.
Zarzma Monastery ensemble, located on top of a hill, includes a church bell tower, chapel, ruins of two churches and a spring. The oldest records mentioning a monastery in the same area are contained in a book describing the life of Serapion of Zarzma, who came from Tao-Klar-jeti together with his brother in the 19th century. Presently Zarzma is an acting monastery.
Khertvisi Fortress was built on a rocky mountain at the junction of Artaani Mtkvari and Javakheti Mtkvari Rivers. A small church located in the central part of the fortress had been turned into ruins but was reconstructed in 2000. Khertvisi was built in order to protect the country.VANI CAVERNS
The complex of Vani Caverns that hosted a monastery in the 8-16th cc. is located on the Khertvisi-Vardzia road, on the right bank of the Mt-kvari. The small church built in the hill still bears an inscription done in Mkhedruli alphabet dating back to late 15th c. The inscription includes two strophes from "The Knight in the Panther's Skin".
Tsunda is a historic city in Javakheti, located on the right bank of Mtkvari River, on the site of the modern village of Nokalakevi and its surroundings. There are remains of a 12-13th century church here, built out of square stones and decorated with richly carved doors and windows.
Tmogvi fortress was one of the most important fortress-cities in Georgia. It is located on a rocky hill on the left bank of the Mtkvari River. Tmogvi is first mentioned in historic chronicles of the 10th century. The upper and lower sides of the fortress were connected with a secret tunnel. In the western ravine Ephreme Church with iconostasis was built in the mountains. In the ruins of the second church, frescos dating back to the 13th century were discovered. The ruins of an old village, located on both banks of a river, can still be seen.
Cave town Vardzia is one of the most important and impressive historic monuments in Georgia. Vardzia is located at the altitude of 1300 meters above sea level, at the height of 100 meters from the foothills of the Erusheti Mountain; it goes up for half a kilometer and used to have as many as 13 floors. The floors were connected by a complex system of tunnels.
There were over 3000 caves that could accommodate 50,000 people at a time. Vardzia complex had living quarters, refectories, barns, vine storing facilities (marani), stables, drugstores and libraries. The town had potable water supply and a sewerage system.
Construction of Vardzia was initiated by King George III in 1156-1184.
Establishment of Phoka Monastery is credited to St. Nino of Cappadocia, who introduced Georgia to Christianity. Saint Nino came to Georgia through Javakheti and stopped near Pharavani Lake where she had a vision of a saint who gave her a letter addressed to the pagan king. In the 11th century a cathedral was built on the same spot.
The village of Kumurdo and Bishop of Kumurdo are first mentioned in historic chronicles of the 6th century. A cathedral dating back to the 10th century still exists in the village; it is a fine and high-quality example of Georgian architecture. The inscriptions remaining on the walls tell us it was built during the reign of Abkhazian King Leon in 964. There are some important monasteries and churches in Samcxhe-Ja-vakheti region such as the following: Timotesubani Monastry Complex; Kvabiskhevi Church of the Virgin; Daba Church; Chitakhevi (Green Monastry), Gogia Fortress,etc.
Borjomi Local Museum
5 Saint Nino Str. 1200, Borjomi Tel: (+995 267) 2 23 62; Mob: (+995 99) 28 54 94
Museum is located in the Romanoff's former chancellery, built in 1890. Here are preserved archeological materials of 1 st and 2nd millennia B.C. numismatic and Romanoff's belongings of XIX c.
Ivane Javakhishvili Samtskhe-Javakheti Historical Museum (Georgian National Museum)
Museum is located in the old castle, so called Rabat. Here are preserved archeological, ethnographical materials, old manuscripts, etc. Interesting is the 19th - 20th cc. unique collection of carpets; historical scripts,the 13th-19th cc. rich manuscripts, including the fragment of the manuscript of "knight in the panther's skin".
Vardzia Historical and Architectural State Museum-Reserve
Vardzia, Aspindza district, 0500 Mob: (+995 99) 11 62 07; (+995 99) 11 62 07
Museum-reserve is the cave-town architectural complex, the main part of it was built in the llth c. in the period of Queen Tamar. Significant is the painting of Vardzia Virgin Mary's church, where among the scenes of Christ's life are also portraits of George III and Queen Tamar and Christ's icon.