13 Must Visit Cities In Georgia
Everyone soon finds themselves traveling through Georgia, country with miracles and magic. In this blog I’ll describe top 13 Cities, but in reality there are tens more. If you spend few days in this amazing country, it quickly will climb in your favourite country list. Georgia is quickly becoming the hottest new tourist destination and it is easy to see why. This country has it all! Stunning mountain vistas, coastline, modern and old cities, delicious food and hundred sorts of wine, and what is most important Georgians are very pleasant and warm hearted people. If you have Georgia on your mind and in your “maybe visit countries list”, do not think twice and pack your bags! Georgia is waiting for you! But while you are packing bags, read this blog about Georgia… hereby I will tell you shortly about MUST TO VISIT cities and places, are you ready?
1. Tbilisi - The capital city of Georgia
As history says, the present-day territory of Tbilisi was uninhabited and covered by forest as late as 458 AD, the date medieval Georgian chronicles assign to the founding of the city by King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Iberia (or Kartli, present-day eastern Georgia).
Archaeological studies of the region have however revealed that the territory of Tbilisi was settled by humans as early as the 4th millennium BC. The earliest written accounts of settlement of the location come from the second half of the 4th century AD, when a fortress was built during King Varaz-Bakur's reign (ca. 364). According to one account King Vakhtang Gorgasali (r. 447-502) went hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon. The king's falcon caught a pheasant, but both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died. King Vakhtang was so impressed with the discovery that he decided to build a city on this location. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili", meaning warm. The name Tbili or Tbilisi ("warm location") therefore was given to the city because of the area's numerous sulfuric hot springs, which are still heavily exploited, notably for public baths, in the Abanotubani district. This mythical foundation account is still popular, but archaeological evidence shows that Vakhtang revived, or rebuilt parts of the city (such as Abanotubani, or the Metekhi palace, where his statue now stands) but did not found it.
There are several must to visit places in Tbilisi, such as Old Town, Narikala Fortress, Botanical Garden, Statue of Mother of Georgia, Sulphur Bathses, Trinity Cathedral and etc.
2. Mtskheta - Cathedral City Of Georgia
Mtskheta was founded in the 5th century BC. It was capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia (Kartli) from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. It was a site of early Christian activity, and the location where Christianity was proclaimed the state religion of Kartli in 337. It remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
King Dachi I Ujarmeli (early 6th century AD), who was the successor of Vakhtang I Gorgasali, moved the capital from Mtskheta to the more easily defensible Tbilisi according to the will left by his father. The old city lies at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. The rare blend of cultural values had ruled in this part of the world since the Bronze Age until prosperous Christian era over the unique eclectic lifestyle creating the mood of the town which is as old as the history of Georgia. Mtskheta is the most religious city of Georgia as it has been the shrine of pagan idols since times immemorial and it is where Christianity in Georgia takes its origin.
In recognition of its role in the Georgian Christian history, Mtskheta was granted the status of a "Holy City" by Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of Georgia in accordance of the written testament of his 11th-century predecessor Melchizedek I of Georgia.
Places to visit in Mtskehta: Svetishkhoveli Cathedral, Samtavro Monastery, Jvari Monastery and Bebris Castle.
3. Gori - Home City Of Stalin
Gori is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the homonymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora that is, "heap", or "hill". Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages and maintains a strategic importance due to its location on the principal highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia. Gori is also known as the birthplace of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, ballistic missile designer Alexander Nadiradze and philosopher Merab Mamardashvili. Gori is located 86 kilometers (53 mi) west of Georgia's capital Tbilisi, at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Greater Liakhvi, 588 meters (1,929 ft) above sea level. The territory of Gori has been populated since the early Bronze Age. According to medieval Georgian chronicles, the town of Gori was founded by King David IV (1089-1125) who settled refugees from Armenia there. However, the fortress of Gori (Goris-Tsikhe) appears to have been in use already in the 7th century.
Top Places to visit in Gori: Stalin Museum, Gori Castle, Monument Of Georgian Warriors and Cave Town Uplistsikhe.
4. Borjomi - Home Land of Mineral Waters
Borjomi is a resort town in south-central Georgia, The town is noted for its the World Wide Fund for Nature-site Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park and mineral water industry with unique healing qualities and taste. It’s been known for centuries, that this water was unique, but it really becomes famous during Russian reign in Georgia. Borjomi water won its first gold medal in 1907 in Belgium. The water has been bottled since 1896. Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically-themed amusement park in the Caucasus. So Borjomi seams right place to go and stay for couple days and cure your health problem!
What to see in Borjomi? Here are some most important places: Borjomi National Park, Mineral Water Springs, Cave Town Vardzia, Rabati and etc.
5. Sighnaghi - City of Love and Wine
Lets move to eastern part of Georgia, city Sighnaghi, also known as city of love and central city of wine region. Signagi is located in the Kakheti region of Georgia, settled since the Paleolithic period. Signagi as a settlement is first recorded in the early 18th century. In 1762, King Heraclius II of Georgia sponsored the construction of the town and erected a fortress to defend the area from marauding attacks by Dagestan tribesmen.
As of the 1770 census, Signagi was settled by 100 families, chiefly craftsmen and merchants. When Georgia was annexed by Imperial Russia in 1801, Signagi was officially granted town status and became a centre of Signakh within Tiflis Governorate in 1802. In 1812, Signak joined the rebellion with the rest of Kakheti against the Russian rule. During the Caucasian War, the town "was considered an important point on account of its proximity to" Dagestan.
The town quickly rose in its size and population and became an agricultural center, but later a major reconstruction project recently launched by the Government of Georgia and co-funded by several international organizations intends to address an increasing tourist interest and modernize infrastructure.
Never leave Sighnaghi without visiting wineries, trying homemade wine and Chacha (Georgian Vodka), also some sweets such as Churchkhela and Tklapi.
6. Telavi - Royal City Of Eastern Georgia
Telavi, the main city and administrative centre of Georgia's eastern province of Kakheti. The first archaeological findings from Telavi date back to the Bronze Age. One of the earliest surviving accounts of Telavi is from the 2nd century AD, by Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus, who mentions the name Teleda (a reference to Telavi). Telavi began to transform into a fairly important and large political and administrative centre in the 8th century. Interesting information on Telavi is provided in the records by an Arab geographer, Al-Muqaddasi of the 10th century, who mentions Telavi along with such important cities of that time's Caucasus as Tbilisi, Shamkhor, Ganja, Shemakha and Shirvan. Speaking about the population of Telavi, Al-Muqaddasi points out that for the most part it consisted of Christians. From the 10th until the 12th century, Telavi served as the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti and later Kingdom of Kakhet-Hereti. During the so-called Golden Era of the Georgian State (12th–13th centuries), Telavi turned into one of the most important political and economic centres of the Georgian State. After the disintegration of the united Georgian Kingdom in the 15th century, the role of Telavi started to decline and the city eventually became an ordinary town of trade and crafts. Telavi regained its political importance in the 17th century when it became a capital of the kingdom of Kakheti. By 1762, it turned into the second capital (after Tbilisi) of the united Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti.
7. Gareji - Land Of Cave Monasteries
The complex was founded in the 6th century by David (St. David Garejeli), one of the thirteen Assyrian monks who arrived in the country at the same time. His disciples Dodo and Luciane expanded the original lavra and founded two other monasteries known as Dodo's Rka (literally, "the horn of Dodo") and Natlismtsemeli ("the Baptist"). The monastery saw further development under the guidance of the 9th-century Georgian saint Ilarion. The convent was particularly patronized by the Georgian royal and noble families. The 12th-century Georgian king Demetre I, the author of the famous Georgian hymn Thou Art a Vineyard, even chose David Gareja as a place of his confinement after he abdicated the throne.
Despite the harsh environment, the monastery remained an important centre of religious and cultural activity for many centuries; at certain periods the monasteries owned extensive agricultural lands and many villages. The renaissance of fresco painting chronologically coincides with the general development of the life in the David Gareja monasteries. The high artistic skill of David Gareja frescoes made them an indispensable part of world treasure. From the late 11th to the early 13th centuries, the economic and cultural development of David Gareja reached its highest phase, reflecting the general prosperity of the medieval Kingdom of Georgia. New monasteries Udabno, Bertubani and Chichkhituri were built, the old ones were enlarged and re-organized.
The monastery remains active today and serves as a popular destination of tourism and pilgrimage.
8. Batumi - Deamond Of Bleak Sea
The history of Batumi is long and troublesome. The area was inhabited already in the ancient times and played an important harbor role back then. Due to the strategic position the city has changed its authorities over the years. Batumi is the second-largest city of Georgia, located on the coast of the Black Sea in the country's southwest. Situated in a subtropical zone near the foot of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains, Batumi is a popular tourist destination known for its varying weather–it is a bustling seaside resort during warm seasons, but can get entirely covered in snow during winter. Much of Batumi's economy revolves around tourism and gambling, but the city is also an important sea port and includes industries like shipbuilding, food processing and light manufacturing. Since 2010, Batumi has been transformed by the construction of modern high-rise buildings, as well as the restoration of classical 19th-century edifices lining its historic Old Town. These days Batumi tries to redefine itself – everyone has his or her own opinion about the way the city is changing, you can love it or hate it, but one thing is for sure – Batumi leaves no one indifferent.
There are a lot of places to visit and see in Batumi but most important are, Batumi bulvar, botanical Garden, Piazza, Old Town, Gonio Fortress, Alphabetic Tower, Dolphinarium, Ali And Nino Statue and etc.
9. Mestia - Capital Of Svaneti
Mestia, the main regional center of Zemo (Upper) Svaneti, is situated 456 km from Georgia’s capital city, Tbilisi, and is 1,500 meters above sea level. It is the starting point for most trips to Svaneti, with a range of hotels, guesthouses and local travel services, and makes a convenient base for exploring the area. From the center of Mestia it is possible to hike up to the glaciers at the foot of mount Ushba, or take horses into the pristine alpine meadows. New ski resorts Hatsvali and Tetnuldi attract the attention of winter sports lovers who are looking for the new places and challenges. Tourists interested in religious history will find plenty of examples of wall paintings, frescoes and icons from the Middle Ages in the churches around Mestia. Within Mestia, the Church of Saint George contains well-preserved crosses and icons from the XII century. Additionally, Pusdi Church still contains fragments of XIII century wall paintings.
Nearby and in Mestia you can visit several ethnography museums, Tower of love, Ushguli and lots of old churches.
10. Zugdidi - Royal City In Western Georgia
is a city in the Western Georgian historical province of Samegrelo, It is situated in the north-west of that province. The city is located 318 kilometres west of Tbilisi, 30 km from the Black Sea coast and 30 km from the Egrisi Range, at an elevation of 100–110 metres above sea level. Zugdidi is the capital of the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, which combines Samegrelo (Mingrelia) and upper part of Svaneti, and the center of the Zugdidi Municipality within. The name "Zugdidi” first appears in the 17th century and literally it means "big hill" in Mingrelian language.Historically Zugdidi was a capital of the Principality of Mingrelia (Odishi) until 1867, when the principality was abolished by the Russian Empire. During the years Zugdidi was one of the important political and cultural center of whole Georgia, In 1993, there were located administration of the first President of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia and the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia as well.
Architectural sights of the city are the Queen's palace and Niko's palace (now the Dadiani Palaces museum, both of the 19th century), as well as Cathedral of the Blachernae Icon of the Mother of God (1825–1830) and Mantskhvar-kari (10th–14th centuries) church. Proud of this region is Martvili Canyon!
11. Kutaisi - First Capital Of Georgia
Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis. Archaeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the kingdom of Colchis in the sixth to fifth centuries BC. It's believed that, in Argonautica, a Greek epic poem about Jason and the Argonauts and their journey to Colchis, author Apollonius Rhodius considered Kutaisi their final destination as well as the residence of King Aeëtes. Later it was capital of the kingdom of Lazica until being occupied briefly by the Arabs. An Arab incursion into western Georgia was repelled by Abkhazians jointly with Lazic and Iberian allies in 736, towards c.786, Leon II won his full independence from Byzantine and transferred his capital to the Kutaisi, thus unifying Lazica and Abasgia via a dynastic union. The latter led the unification of Georgian monarchy in the 11th century.From 1008 to 1122, Kutaisi served as capital of the united Kingdom of Georgia, and from the 15th century until 1810, it was the capital of the Imeretian Kingdom. In 1508, the city was conquered by Selim I, who was the son of Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Kutaisi was a major industrial center before Georgia's independence in 1991.Later in 2012th the new Parliament building was opened in Kutaisi, this fact made Kutaisi more active. Kutaisi is located along both banks of the Rioni River. City is surrounded by deciduous forests to the northeast and the northwest. The low-lying outskirts of the city have a largely agricultural landscape. The city centre has many gardens and its streets are lined with high, leafy trees. In the springtime, when the snow starts to melt in the nearby mountains, the storming Rioni River in the middle of the city is heard far beyond its banks.
If you travel in Kutaisi do not forget to visit Gelati Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral, Sataflia Caves, Motsameta Monastery, Several Museums, Botanical Garden and etc.
12. Shatili - City Of Stones
is a historic highland village in Georgia, near the border with Chechnya. It is located on the northern slope of the Greater Caucasus mountains, in the historical Georgian province of Upper Khevsureti, which is now part of the modern-day region (mkhare) of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. As of 2014 census, population of the village was 22. Located in the deep Arghuni gorge at approximate 1,400 meters, the village is actually a unique complex of medieval-to-early modern fortresses and fortified dwellings of stone and mortar which functioned both as a residential area and a fortress guarding the northeastern outskirts of the country. The fortress consists of the terraced structures dominated by flat-roofed dwellings and some 60 towers which cluster together to create a single chain of fortifications. Shatili is still inhabited by a dozen or so families, but is inaccessible by road during wintertime. The village is a favourite destination for tourists and mountain trekkers.
13. Stepantsminda - Heart Of North-Eastern Georgia
Kazbegi is a district of Georgia in the region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti. Kazbegi Municipality is situated in the upper valley of the Terek River, which goes on to traverse the Georgia–Russia border to the north and eventually drains into the Caspian Sea in Dagestan, Russian Federation. By the conventional definition of the Europe-Asia boundary as following the watershed of the Caucasus, this places Kazbegi Municipality geographically in Europe, thus making Georgia a transcontinental country. The main settlement is Stepantsminda, The town is located along the banks of the Terek River, 157 kilometers (98 mi) to the north of Tbilisi at an elevation of 1,740 meters (5,710 feet) above sea level. The town is dominated by large mountains on all sides. The most notable mountain of the region, Mount Kazbek 5,047 m (16,558 ft) lies immediately to the west of town.
Places to visit in Kazbegi: Gergeti Trinity Church, Gveleti Waterfalls, Gudauri Panorama and several Canyons.
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Blog By Shota Cherkezishvili