WHAT TO DO IN THE MTSKHETA-MTIANETI REGION
ENTERTAINMENT IN GUDAURI
Paragliding, ski-touring, snowmobiling and sightseeing tours are popular activities with both youth and experienced sportsmen arriving in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region.
Popular outdoor activities include trekking and hiking, bird-watching, horse riding, mountain biking, bike downhill races, white water river rafting, fishing, mountaineering, rock climbing, and camping.
During the day guests may drop in at the "Khada Hut - 2650m" nestled at the foot of Kudebi mountain to have a snack and drink in a friendly atmosphere with a fireplace and bar.
Helicopter skiing in the Caucasus is also a wellknown attraction for tourists visiting Gudauri where numerous slopes are available for heli-skiiers. Some of the most spectacular runs start at 4500m around the summit glaciers of the 5047m Mt. Kazbegi.
Summer programs can be combined with summer skiing during April-May and even as late as June. Groups can be accommodated at the ski-hut (2650 m). Ski-lifts drop skiers up at 3300m peaks to enjoy the amazing contrast between winter snow and summer grassland.
SKIING IN GUDAURI
Unique geological terrain and climatic conditions make Gudauri Mountain slopes the best for both groomed runs and deep snow "all-around" skiing. The total length of the mountain's groomed ski runs exceed 20km. The slopes are suitable for skiers of any experience level starting from stone cold beginners and ending with black diamond experts. Each winter Gudauri also hosts ski and snowboarding competitions, ski races and sports festivals. It is a well known place for any winter outdoor activity, gathering and fun.
SUMMER IN GUDAURI
Gudauri is also a summer destination. It offers the following tourism activities: trekking tours in Truso and Khada Valleys; horseback riding trips to beautiful Keli Lake located on a volcanic plateau; bird watching; rafting and more.
This site is part of the Greater Caucasus in Georgia, a very popular hiking area around the famous peak Mkinvartsveri (Kazbegi), with the spectacular Darial canyon to the north and Truso gorge to the south. Natural landscapes vary from deep gorges and canyons with fast streams and sub-alpine
vegetation to high mountain peaks (the highest is 5,033m) with glaciers. Woodlands are scarce with mixed and coniferous forests dominating. Geologically, the site is mainly made up of tertiary volcanogenic bedrock, with the scarce formations of Paleozoic and older granites.
Kazbegi is the most feasible site to watch vultures, mountain birds, and mountain goats. It is best to plan your visit for several days, although even a two-day trip for watching some birds is possible with a car.
Rafting is available on the river Aragvi. Local tour operators provide all the necessary equipment for such endeavours.
RESORTS AND NATIONAL PARKS
Gudauri is situated on the historic Georgian Military Highway near the Cross Mountain Pass on the main spine of the Caucasus range, about 120 km from Tbilisi. Even in winters with relatively little snow Gudauri offers stable snow cover from November through May. The average snow height on the slopes reaches 1.5 m. In spite of the fact that Gudauri is located at 2000 m from the sea level warm, sunny and quiet weather still prevails.
KAZBEGI NATIONAL PARK
Kazbegi National Park is located in the historical gorge on the northern slopes of the Caucasus range. The territory of Kazbegi Protected Areas is fragmented, with a total area of 8707 hectares. All of the Kazbegi National Park is mountainous. Its lowest part is located at 1400 m above sea level.
Kazbegi National Park is located on the northern slopes of Main Caucasus range, in the basin of the Tergi River in the Kazbegi district (gorge); lower marker of its territory is at a height of 1400 m above sea level, and the upper one is within 300-4100m. Establishing of Kazbegi National Park serves the purpose of protection of the high mountain ecosystems.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE MTSKHETA-MTIANETI REGION
Sno Fortress is located in village Sno, on the bank of the Sno - right estuary of Tergi River. The fortress is erected on a stony hilltop, a hardly accessible place. The fortress is surrounded by a virtually circular wall and has a pyramidal tower in the center. According to scholars, it must have been built in the 16-17 cc. The fortress served to close and defend the gorge that contained shorter routes to Khevsureti, Pshavi, Mtiuleti (through Gudamakari gorge). The fortress belonged to the Ghudushauri family.
GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH
Gergeti Holy Trinity Church is remarkable monument of Georgian architecture. It is located on a hilltop in the foothills of Mkinvartsveri peak at 2200 m from the sea level, on the right bank of the Chkheri - one of the estuaries of the Tergi, north from Stepantsminda village, in Stepantsminda and Khevi diocese. As the chronicles and the architectural style indicate, Trinity Church must have been built in the 14th c. It was originally a monastery. The remaining buildings include a domed church and a later (16th c.) bell-tower surrounded by a stone wall. The southern wall connects to a meeting room where the board of elders usually met to make important decisions according to the old custom existing in the mountainous areas.
Shatili is one of the most brilliant masterpieces of Georgian architecture. This village is scattered on the slopes of a rock hill and served both as residence and a fortress. For many centuries it served to defend northern passes in the Caucasus leading to Georgia (now restored). The village is lined with closely built tower-houses, which makes a solid and inaccessible fortress wall surrounding the whole village. Shatili is linked with the outer world by the only narrow road leading to Arghuni gorge.The architecture is based on terraces. The buildings are basically flat-roofed houses and towers. Here and there the village is lined by narrow stone stairs leading to the top between the buildings. There still remain several bridges made of bones. They were convenient in getting around the village without having to go outdoors when the enemy invaded.
THE TRUSO VALLEY
The Truso Valley is a magnificent natural monument, which once was quite a densely populated area consisting of small villages, flat-roofed houses, old districts and fortresses. These villages managed to maintain their historic appearance better than the ones restored in Khevi (mountain region). Also in the Truso valley, several small hall-type churches are found dating back to the 10th century.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is located in Mtskheta, in about 20 km from Tbilisi. The current building is chronologically third structure on the site. Georgia announced Christianity as its official religion in 337 AD. The first Christian King Mirian was advised by St. Nino, who had brought Christ's teaching to Georgia, to build a church over the grave with Christ's shirt. A Lebanese cedar growing on the grave was cut down and used to make seven posts. The workers managed to erect only three of them. The seventh post that was also the biggest and illuminated did not touch the ground, but hang in the air. It was illuminating light and radiated a nice fragrance. People collected chrism from the piece of wood and the chrism would cure all kinds of diseases. This is why the post was called "SvetiTskhoveli"- a life-giving post. Later the name was also given to the Cathedral. For many centuries the cathedral has been the burial site for Georgian kings.
MTSKHETA CROSS MONASTERY (JVARI)
Jvari is one of the masterpieces of Georgian architecture. It is erected on a hill near Mtskheta overlooking the estuary of two rivers - the Mtkvari and Aragvi. Right after conversion to Christianity King Mirian erected a tall wooden (vine) cross on the hill, which was venerated by various Caucasian Christian nations, Later a small church was built beside the church. It is now referred to as the Small Cross. The church was too small to hold all the visitors and in 586/7-604 AD his son, Stephanoz I ordered construction of a large cathedral, the current Jvari over the wooden cross. The pedestal of the old cross has been preserved. There are numerous other religious buildings in and outside Georgia, which are similar to this type of architecture; however, there is nothing older and more complete than Mtskheta Cross. It is now listed as one of the World Heritage sites by UNESCO.
Samtavro Archbishopric Cathedral and convent since 1811 is located on Samtavro Valley. The valley has been inhabited since IV-III millennia BC. Settlements and burial sites alternated in the place from time to time, in some cases they also existed together. Samtavro was chosen by St. Nino as her prayer site. She spent three years living there.
One of the oldest pieces of Georgian architecture, Zedazeni Monastery is situated on the left bank of the Aragvi, north-east from Mtskheta. It was founded by Assyrian Father John in the 540s. The southern nave consists of two parts. Zedazeni Monastery was repaired several times. Last restoration and maintenance works were conducted in 1970-1971.
SHIOMGHVIME MONASTERY COMPLEX
Shiomghvime Monastery Complex, one of the most prominent religious and cultural centers in feudal Georgia is located in 40 km from Tbilisi, in Mtskheta district, on the left bank of the Mtkvari. According to historical sources, the monastery was founded by Shio - a student of Assyrian Father John of Zedazeni in the VI c. Tradition has it that Father Shio spent his last years in a dark, deep grotto and left a will to bury him there, which will was fulfilled. His grave is considered a sacred place.
Tsilkani Bishopric Cathedral was founded in the 4th c. in 15 km from Mtskheta, in the village bearing the same name. The complex includes Virgin Mary Church and a stonewall of the 8th c. In King Vakhtang Gorgasali's reign (5th c.) a triple-nave basilica was built replacing the older church.
Ananuri architectural complex is one of the best monuments of the Georgian architecture of the later period. It includes religious, military and secular facilities. According to the inscription on a stone in the southern wall of the main church its construction was completed in 1689.
Bethlehem Cave is situated in the kingdom of glaciers above Gergeti Holy Trinity Church. Monks from the 8th to 12th centuries used it as a cell.
Among the unique natural monuments are: Bethlehem Pillar, the Khada Valley, Tkharsheti Forest (in the vicinity of Goristsikhe and Sioni Villages) and Khorsari Lava Cave (near Kobi Village.)
Great Mtskheta Archaeological State Museum-Reserve
54 David Aghmashenebeli Str. 3300, Mtskheta Tel: (+995 273) 2 23 60
The museum-reserve includes several sites: royal residence Armaztsikhe (I-V c.c.), royal crypt (I c.), residence of pitiakhshes in Armaziskhevi, Sam-tavro burial (II Millennium BC-VIII-IX cc AD) with several layers of graves, remains of dwelling constructions, Bebristsikhe fortress, etc The museum houses collections of archaeological discoveries (chronological frames: IV Millennium B.C. - X-XII c.c. A.D.).
Ilia Chavchavadze Saguramo State Museum
3311, village Saguramo, Mtskheta district. Phone: (+995 99) 26 99 97
The museum houses memorial belongings of outstanding Georgian writerand public figure Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907).
There are kept personal belongings, photo portraits, manuscripts and samples of published by him peri odicals, several samples of Georgian and foreign fine art.
Chargali Vazha-Pshavela House Museum
1810, village Chargali, Dusheti district
The museum houses memorial objects connected with life and work of wellknown Georgian poet Vazha-Pshavela (1861-1915), ethnographic collection (XIX c. and beginning of the XX c).
Tianeti Local Museum
2500, Tianeti, Tianeti district Tel: (+995 248) 9 15 31 The museum houses collections of archaeological items discovered in Tianeti area (from Early Bronze Age up to late medieval times), ethnographic material, religious objects and samples of the Four Gospels .textile collection (Khevsuretian clothes and accessories), medieval ceramic, etc.