WHAT TO DO IN THE LOWER KARTLI REGION
Developed forms of tourism are bird watching, ecotourism, botanic and architectural tours cultural-educational, religious, archaeological, horse-riding and extreme adventurous in river gorges. There is also a potential for development of the following types of tourism: photo-video, 4x4 wheel drive adventures.
Almost all European forest birds can be observed in the Gardabani floodplain forest including the kingfisher, five species of woodpeckers and various songbirds. Also some large mammal species can be occasionally observed.
The caves and badlands of Davit-Gareji are one of the most spectacular sites in Georgia, where historical and wildlife attractions are located side-by-side and can be watched at the same time. This Mediterranean-type arid badland landscape with multi-coloured clay hills covered with shrub and steppe-like vegetation, is the site of one of the oldest Christian monasteries in the world. The site is located in a sparsely populated region southeast of Tbilisi, and west of the lori River valley. The area harbours a mixture of animal and plant species typical of eastern Mediterranean and Central Asian landscapes. Most remarkable are vultures and various species of reptiles.
Jandari Lake is a favourite site for fishermen. It is situated in the steppe landscape southeast of Tbilisi, near the border between Georgia and Azerbaijan. It is an important site for both migratory and nesting waterfowl birds.
Lower Kartli is full of places where one can drive, walk or ride, enjoy nature and rest. Birtvisi Gorge, Khrami River Gorge, Gomareti, Mang-lisi, Dmanisi and Tetritskaro areas, Algeti National Park, Bedeni mountain range, Gardabani park, Zirbiti and Amievi meadows and forests are especially attractive in this respect. Part of Lower Kartli has been classified as the National Park of Algeti. The altitude of the territory varies from 300 to 1500 meters above sea level. The park was created to preserve biodiversity, rare animals and endemic species of plants.
Dmanisi is an archaeological site in Lower Kartli region of Georgia approximately 93 km southwest of the nation's capital Tbilisi in the river valley of Mashavera. The Dmanisi settlement dates back to the medieval ages but was internationally unknown until ancient human remains were discovered there a few years ago, capturing the world's attention. Specialists believe that the human bone fragments found in Dmanisi belonged to a people which lived here 1.7 million years ago. Previously, scientists believed that the first prehistoric human beings lived in central Africa, and from there they settled in Eurasia about 600,000-1,000,000 years ago. Discoveries from Dmanisi forced them to reconsider some existing theories. Now it is thought that the human remains discovered in Dmanisi may be from the oldest known human being in Europe and Asia. The discovery at Dmanisi is of a global importance and is widely considered a major archaeological discovery of the 20th century. The skulls found in Dmanisi are currently kept in the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia.
THE ALGETI NATIONAL PARK
The Algeti National Park is located in the district of Tetritskaro, at a distance of 60 km from Tbilisi. It covers the southern slopes of the eastern part of theTrialeti range in the gorge of the Algeti River and is situated 1100 - 1950 m above sea level. The highest point is Kldekari (2000 m). The Algeti National Park is characterized by a mountainous relief rugged with a great number of small rivers and ravines. The Algeti River, with its numerous tributaries and ravines, flows through the territory of Algeti National Park. There are 1664 species of plants here, 80 of which are type of trees, 74 bushes, more than 800 grasses, 156 medicinal plants, 43 poisonous plants, 24 vegetables, 69 decorative plants, and three species are endemic to Georgia and the Caucasus.
GARDABANI PROTECTED AREA
The area of Gardabani Managed Nature Reserve, established in 1996, is 3484 hectares. The Managed Nature Reserve is located near the Azerbaijan border, in the territories of Gardabani and Marneuli Districts and is at a distance of 39 km from Tbilisi. Main treasure of flora of the Gardabani Managed Nature Reserve is the floodplain forests. The adjacent territories of the floodplain forest are covered with steppe plants, mainly fragments of nipplewort, which are characteristic to this area.
TBILISI NATIONAL PARK
Tbilisi National Park was established on the basis of Saguramo Strict Nature Reserve, which was created in 1957. The Park is located at a distance of 25 km from Tbilisi and is included in the Green Zone of the city. The Saguramo Strict Nature Reserve was established with the purpose of maintenance of the forest characteristic for Georgia and protection of the forest habitants, among them the rare species such as Caucasian Red deer and lynx. Area of Tbilisi National Park is 24328 ha. It is situated near the two important cities of Georgia - Mtskheta and Tbilisi. In the territories of Tbilisi National Park the plants are rather diverse. 675 species of grass and wood plants can be found here, among them 104 species are of trees and shrubs.
This area is a well-known vacation destination about a half-hour drive from downtown Tbilisi. It features primary hornbeam and oak mountain forests, and is situated at the eastern foothills of Trialeti range.
There are plenty of berries and opportunities to scale the ruins of an old castle. Views of the lower currents of Mtkvari River and Lake Kumisi are spectacular. In the surroundings are several small waterfalls along the mountain brook and rock outcrops with a number of endemic reptiles. The area harbors plant and animal species superficially similar to those found in Balkan mountains, but with a number of species endemic for the Caucasus. Especially interesting nature - watching sites are around ruins of the Kojori castle and along a small river, Kojoris-tskali. There are lots of other resorts in Lower Kartli region. Among them are: Bolnisi, Tetritskaro, Manglisi, Tskneti, Kiketi, etc.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE LOWER KARTLI REGION
Dmanisi was the largest fortified fortress-town of Lower Kartli. Dmanisi was one of the most defended towns in Georgia during the middle ages, after Tbilisi. According to historical sources, the town of Dmanisi was the summer residence of Queen Tamar. A medieval tower and citadel, cellars, baths, halls, jails, and ruins of households and other buildings still exist. A tunnel dating back to the 12th century is of particular note. There is also a three-church basilica, which was built in the 6th century.
Birtvisi Fortress is located in the Algeti gorge of Tetritskaro district. The oldest sources mentioning this fortress are from the 11th century. For hundreds of years Birtvisi was considered an impregnable fortress. It is located between inaccessible cliffs, surrounded by walls covering a total
area of 1 km2.Thetower'Sheupovari', meaning 'unbeatable', is located on the highest wall of the fortress.
The Khuluti Fortress is an excellent example of Georgian architecture. The palace, constructed with local cliff stones, is located in the narrow pass of a deep river gorge. The fortress is dated to have been built in the first half of the 18th century. The central fortress had two sections and is surrounded by a wall containing five towers. Each of the towers was mainly used for living purposes, although they were also used for defense when necessary.
The Bolnisi Sioni church is the only remaining three aisled basilica in Georgia. It was constructed using carved stones, with its primary layer being different from the layer of bricks and river stones. The temple is decorated with clear green-turquoise hued stones. Decorations of the bases and heads of the pillars are of particular interest; one of them is known as the Bolnisi Cross. This is also the first known monument of Georgian architecture that utilizes relief sculptures related to the pre-Christian period, but adopted by the Christian era as well (ex: the head of a bull, various birds and animals).
The village of Gudarekhi in Tetritskaro district contains an architectural monument, monastery complex, and the ruins of an ancient settlement. The monastery complex is surrounded by a high wall and includes a church and a belfry constructed during the reign of Queen Rusudan. The church dates back to 1222. One of the most interesting structures in the complex is the belfry that was constructed in 1278, during the period of Demetre the Hero. This is the earliest belfry in Georgia. Its lower floor is open, as is the top floor which contains eight pillars. Coins from the reigns of George III, Rusudan, and Lasha-Giorgi, as well as Mongolian coins, have been found here.
The Monastery of Pitareti is located close to Pitareti village. One of the most significant examples of Georgian architecture is the Church of the Mother of God, located within the monastery. There is a script inside the gates stating that the temple was constructed from 1213-1222. Pitareti Church contains paintings dating back to the 13th century. There are very diverse pieces of high quality art work in the church as well, including intricate engravings, and decorative depictions of humans and animals.
The historical fortress of Samshvilde is located at the conjunction of the rivers Khrami and Chivchavi, on a naturally fortified peninsula. During the 4th-3rd centuries BC, the fortress was the center of Samshvilde. Only ruins now remain from numerous buildings. The fortress also included the Samshvilde Sioni Temple, which dated back to 759, and is now in ruins. A medieval church and three-part basilica, constructed from the old temple's stones, still remain.
In the times of antiquity there was a significant settlement on the territory of Manglisi. During the reign of Giorgi I, from 1014-1027, the Church of the Virgin was expanded and remodeled. The engraved dome is noteworthy, along with the 11th century gates depicting a starry sky. The church has fragments of wall paintings dating back to the beginning of the 11th century. There is also a medieval belfry, but the date of its construction is unknown.
Rustavi Local Museum
17 Builders'Str. Rustavi Tel: (+995 241) 15 78 95,14 22 28
The museum houses objects, discovered by archaeological expeditions in Rustavi and its historical area (Gardabani district) and represents time period from the XVIII c. B.C. up to XVIII A.D.
Bolnisi Local Museum
95 Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani Str. Bolnisi, Tel: (+995 258) 2 29 94.
The museum houses archaeological collection discovered in Bolnisi, dated from New Stone Age (VI-V Millennium B.C.) up to late medieval times. In the museum there are kept XVII c. ecclesiastical books, published in 1712"The Knight in the Panther's Skin" by Shota Rustaveli.
Kldekari Historical & Architectural Museum-Reserve
19AristoteleStr.Tsalka Mob: (+995 99) 95 74 58
The reserve includes territory of historical Kldekari Saeristavo, where there are remnant of castle, built in 70-ies of IX c.
The castle controlled the only way from Javakheti to Kartli, via Trialeti range; There are also numerous medieval monuments of Trialeti and Ar-gveti gorges.
Dmanisi Historical & Architectural Museum-Reserve
Village Patara Dmanisi,
Tel: (+995 251) 4 36 74
The site represents a medieval town with its ramparts, citadel, and public and religious buildings. Among religious buildings of special interest is Dmanisi Sion (VI c), with added in XII c. gates with ornaments and inscriptions. Along with medieval stratum, in Dmanisi are discovered sculls of hominids date back to 1.8 million years.