Festive Georgia: The Jewel of Caucasus

The Jewel of Caucasus Festive Georgia

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Last updated:
25.09.2020
 

Are you looking for something extraordinary for your summer getaway? If you are a foodie, nature lover, history buff, or adventurous traveler, head to Georgia immediately as this off-the-beaten-pass destination packs a lot in: ancient towns, breathtaking landscapes, massive mountains, natural hot springs, mouthwatering cuisine, and, for sure, delicious wine. Are you still thinking if Georgia is worth visiting? Continue reading to find out more about the hidden treasures of this miraculous region!

 

What You Didn't Know About Georgia

Georgia who? Probably some of you are wondering if Georgia is actually a country. Often confused with a state in the USA, Georgia is a scenic country that is located at the crossroads of East and West. Although Georgia is rapidly turning into a popular travel destination, this gem of the Caucasus is still unexplored.

Surprisingly, it's not actually called Georgia as the citizens refer to it as Sakartvelo (try to pronounce it properly 3 times in a row). Nobody really knows how Georgia got its name, but one theory says that it was coined by Christian crusaders in the Middle Ages because of the country's allegiance to St. George.

Despite its comparatively small size, this amazing country has 12 different climate zones! From sandy deserts and alpine meadows to breathtaking lakes and vast beaches of the Black Sea, many-sided Georgia has everything to satisfy the needs of any traveler.

Georgia is also a place of historical significance which is famous as a home to Joseph Stalin, or local "Uncle Joe", a well-known political figure during the Soviet Union times. The general secretary of the Communist Party was born in the charming city of Gori, which today houses a museum dedicated to his legendary journey of becoming a leader of the USSR.

Georgian Flag
 

Top Things to See and Do in Georgia

Tbilisi, Georgia

Wonderful Tbilisi

Tbilisi is the beating heart of the country and one of the best cities to start your Georgia exploration. Cozily situated on the banks of the Kura River, this vibrant town is hugged by green hills and majestic mountains. Thanks to its beneficial location, this city for Georgia is like Rome for Italy: all roads in the country lead to Tbilisi!

Interestingly, the Georgian word "Tbili" means "warm" in English. The ancient legend says that the city got its beautiful name thanks to local mineral hot springs, discovered by Georgian King Vakhtang during a hunt.

Georgians wisely took advantage of this natural wonder and today the region of Abanotubani is well-known for its sulfur baths dotted around the area. Built in Persian style, this cluster of the domed brick baths is a popular hangout place for locals and an ideal option for those who search for a relaxing experience. What is more, Tbilisi sulfur baths were noted for their luxury by world-famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin!

 

Apart from being a natural spa-center, Tbilisi has it all for culture enthusiasts. Save some time to explore the cozy streets of the historic center, marvel at the beautiful architecture, and, as a highlight, take the cable car to the Narikala Fortress where you can enjoy the mesmerizing panoramic views over Tbilisi old town!

 

Enchanting Mtskheta

Mtskheta deservingly holds the title of the spiritual center of the country. This "holy city" boasts plenty of historical monuments and masterpieces of the orthodox architecture.

The skyline of Mtskheta is adorned with sacred shrines, chapels, and cathedrals, including two Georgia's legendary churches: Svetitskhoveli and Jvari Monastery.

Founded 3000 years ago, the UNESCO-listed Svetitskhoveli Cathedral (yes, Georgian names are real tongue twisters) is the residence of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia and the main Mtskheta attraction.

This iconic church was erected on the grave of Sidonia, who was buried with Christ's mantle what made the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral an essential stop of all pilgrim routes in Georgia.

Mtsheta, Georgia
 

Another jewel of Georgian religious architecture is the remarkable Jvari monastery that is picturesquely situated on a vertical side-cliff overlooking the city of Mtskheta. Constructed at the beginning of Georgian Christianity, this imposing landmark served as a sample for many other churches in the country and even today stands among the most sacred places in the entire Caucasus!

 
Vardzia, Georgia

Fantastic Vardzia

Did you ever see a monumental cave town? In Georgia, you have a unique chance to explore even a few! Stretching along the cliff for 500 meters (1640 ft), the Vardzia cave monastery complex was constructed in the second part of the 12th century.

This ethereal place looks like a frame from the Lord of the Rings and probably could be a dwarfs' fortress. But according to archeological findings, this magnificent stone complex was inhabited by monks.

This ultimate 13-leveled citadel featured 6000 rooms, a throne hall, and a large church crowned with a bell tower!

Another outstanding example of rock-cut architecture is the Uplistsikhe cave town, which is located in the eastern part of Georgia.

 

Covering the area of 40 000 square meters (430 556 sq ft), this city was a major political, cultural, and religious hub of the country before the adoption of Christianity. Hard to believe, but Uplistsikhe was a 3-zoned underground system with all typical for a normal town functional buildings. Among the numerous footways and tunnels, you could find a bakery, a prison, wine cellars, and even an amphitheater!

 

Astonishing Kazbegi

Don't forget to charge your cameras as we are heading to one of the most picturesque parts of the Georgian Military Road, Kazbegi National Park.

Kazbegi, a small town in northeast Georgia, is an ideal place for active travelers as it offers an ideal chance to escape from the crowds and enjoy the allure of nature to the fullest.

Providing a wealth of accessible walking trails, hiking routes, and even horse riding opportunities, Kazbegi won't let you get bored!

The jewel of the city is the Gergeti Trinity Church that sits at the base of the mighty Kazbegi mountains. Dating back to the 14th century, this church is situated at 1800 meters (5905 ft) above sea level and attracts all visitors with its simple yet appealing architectural style incorporated into the breathtaking setting.

Kazbegi, Georgia
 

Are you a history hunter? Then you should know that apart from being a postcard emblem of Georgia, this scenic place is also cloaked by myths and legends. According to Greek mythology, Zeus punished the titan Prometheus for stealing fire from the hands of the gods by having him chained to a rock in the Caucasus. Georgians still believe that it was the icy slopes of Kazbegi that witnessed the suffering of Prometheus.

 

Get a Taste of Georgia

Known as the hospitable nation, Georgians are experts in throwing parties and having fun! The best way to immerse in the local food culture and put Georgia wine to a taste is to attend a traditional supra. Supra is a big and long feast during which tables simply groan under various delicacies and people sit around for hours chatting, singing, and enjoying time together. If you have a chance to be a guest of this great event, don't forget to say "Gaumarjos!" (the equivalent of the English "Cheers") when you clink your glasses!

Georgian wine

The leading character of such parties is tamada, the main toastmaker. To be a tamada is an honor as this person has a very responsible mission: to keep the audience engaged and entertained! It's important to mention that the art of toasting is especially worshipped in Georgia.

Each of the countless toasts is dedicated to a specific theme and some of them can last upwards of 20 minutes! So do not rush with your shots, because after all the toasts and dinner, there comes a time for dancing!

Continuing the topic of Georgian cuisine, this region will, for sure, surprise all food admirers. Georgia may be a small country, but the diversity of its culinary is really impressive.

While traveling along the Great Silk Road, Georgians have absorbed foreign customs and peculiarities of cooking to create their own unique combinations of flavors.

 

Speaking about the local hallmark dishes, make sure to try Georgian Khinkali, a kind of dumpling traditionally filled with meat.

The main trick of this smoothly twisted knobs is that there is a hot broth inside, so eating them without spilling a single drop can be a real challenge!

Another local favorite is Khachapuri, a Georgian answer to famous Italian pizza. This cheese-stuffed bread is served in a thousand different variations, but the most common one is canoe-shaped with a piece of butter and cracked raw egg in the middle.

For sugar cravings, local cuisine has something absolutely special. No Georgia itinerary won't be complete without degusting churchkhela. Made of natural grape juice and richly filled with fruit and nuts, these colorful candlesticks are a popular souvenir to bring back home!

Churchkhela
 

The last but not the least in our rating of regional gastronomical delights is, of course, Georgian wine. With its 8000-year history of wine-making, Georgia is one of the best places on Earth to degust this tasteful grape drink. The traditional Georgian winemaking technology is even listed by UNESCO, so it is no surprise that this locally produced beverage arouses the urge to drink it all! Mentioning specific Georgian brands, consider giving a try to Saperavi, Ratskeli, Kisi, and Chinuri wine.

 

They say that some places can win your heart over, but Georgia, on the contrary, is the country that will give you a piece of its soul instead. Already feeling inspired to visit this marvelous country? Contact our travel specialist to start planning your unforgettable Georgia getaway!