Georgia on my mind: Five highlights
Trying to capture the essence of Georgian culture and hospitality in a blog post is like trying to describe the history of the world in a tweet.
Coming from Canada, where our built institutions date back barely 300 years, and our culture is spread over vast swaths of land, the sheer amount of history, tradition, and diversity that fits into Georgia’s 70,000 square kilometres is daunting. Here are five destinations that you shouldn’t miss on your trip.
A 17-km drive from Akhmeta, Kakheti into the eastern wine region of Kakheti, this Georgian Orthodox monastery was founded in the 6th century. The present day cathedral is the second tallest religious building in Georgia. There you will find a living museum of recovered Georgian grape varieties and a winery that started producing some of the finest Georgian wines over 1,000 years ago.
While you are in Kakheti, visit Sighnaghi, a tiny town that is built on the remains of an 18th century walled fortress. Georgia has funded a reconstruction of the town, and its views of the Alazni Valley and the Greater Caucasus make this a destination for both its history and its scnery.
Mestia is a highland townlet (daba) in the Svaneti region in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. The town is small, but its relative safety in the Caucasus Mouantains meant that it has served has a safe haven for many of Georgia’s precious cultural artifacts, many of which are held in the Mestia Historical-Ethnographic Museum. Mestia is also the centre for mountaineer and ski tourism. It’s a trek, but can be accessed both by road and through the Queen Tamar airport.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a community of 12th-century villages in Upper Svaneti—the highest village in Europe, nestled at the foot of the Caucasus’ highest summit, Shkhara. Walking through the ancient cobblestone streets, explore the medieval Svanetian protective towers that dot the village
It goes without saying that you should spend some time in the country’s capital. Spend time walking around Old Tbilisi; visit the 17th-century brick-domed Sulphur Baths; visit the Saturday antique market for art, rugs, swords, and the occasional paraphernalia from the Soviet era; visit the Metekhi Church and the Narikala Fortress, each with incredible views of Tbilisi and the Mtkvari River that runs through the city.
Wine and Culture
All photos by Lisa Muirhead
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