The most fertile part of Georgia – Kakheti , which borders the Great Caucasus range from the north Alazani Valley, summits of which are over 3,000 m. This region is known as a birthplace of viticulture and wine- making. The reach land, burning sun and hard work have developed about 500 varieties of vine in Georgia. The history, culture and lifestyle of Georgians are embodied in Georgian wine.
Day 1. Arrival
Arrival at the Tbilisi International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Time at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. We will visit the Old Tbilisi. Established more than 1500 years ago it is known that the first settlers arrived much earlier. The course of its history has been hard and never smooth. Tbilisi is a multicultural city. It is the home for more than 100 different ethnic groups. The architecture in the city is a mixture of local (Georgian), with strong influences of Byzantine, European/Russian (neo-classical), and Middle Eastern architectural styles. Tbilisi has a great number of important landmarks and sightseeing locations: churches, museums, and parks.
Visiting one of the symbols of Tbilisi. Sameba (Holy Trinity Cathedral) is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Sameba is one of the main sacred places for Georgians. It is one of the highest churches in Europe with the height of 101 meters. It is also a unique building, the catherdral is build on top of another temple (Lower Church). Sameba is surrounded by a garden with beautiful flowers. There is a small pond with swans and ducks in the garden. And in the evening, this place is so lighted up that the church resembles fire, rushed to the sky.
You will visit the oldest and the most important temple in Tbilisi. Metekhi Church is erected on the cliff, overlooking the Mtkvari River. There is a statue of King Vakhtang Gorgaslani, founder of Tbilisi, in front of the church. The church dates back to the 12th century and has a diverse history, connected with Mongol invasions and political repressions of the Soviet Empire. The colorful Darejani Palace is also situated on the cliff, like the nest of a swallow.
Ascending by cable car to the Narikala Fortress – the heart and soul of Tbilisi. The fortress was established in the 4th century. An old odd masonry of its walls, observation towers and winding narrow paths, all tells about the antiquity of the building. From the many towers you will have a great panorama over the city, the old part as well as the modern part. Just behind Narikala you will find the Botanical Garden with its waterfalls, millions of species of flowers and trees. This is a favorite place to have a family rest or a walk for lovers.
One of the main attractions of Tbilisi is the famous sulfur baths. Here you can use all kinds of “bath services”, taking a bath and swimming in the water of natural hot sulfur springs. Exactly here Tbilisi started. “Tbili” in Georgian means “hot”. In finding these sources King Gorgasali ordered to build the city here. In time immemorial the magic properties of healing attributed to these sources, but now everyone knows the benefits of sulfur baths. An interesting design of these baths made in the oriental style and they are often called “Turkish baths”.
Sioni Cathedral was named in honor of Jerusalem’s Mount Zion. The cathedral is one of the main cathedrals in Tbilisi. Before the construction of the cathedral Sameba the Church Council of Georgian Catholics was in this cathedral. Sioni was founded in the 6th century and was rebuilt many times. Sioni is a repository of Georgian Patriarchs remains. According to available historical data St. Evstani Mtsheteli, saint of Georgia, is buried here. The church kept a cross made of vine that belonged to St. Nino, which brought Christianity to Georgia.
The Peace Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the river Mtkvari. The bridge is 156 meters long. It is made of a metal frame and is completely covered with glass. The bridge is beautiful at day time as well as at night time because it has a very special interactive display system. On the two parapets of the bridge you find 30.000 led lights operating with 240 sensors to transmit their message every hour. The universal messages are relayed in Morse code. “This message celebrates life and peace between people”. The Peace Bridge of Tbilisi is in the list of the great bridges in the world.
Anchiskhati Church – In the Old Town there is the ancient acting St. Mary Church constructed during the reign of Dacha Udzharmeli, the successor of Vakhtang Gorgasali, in the 4 th century. The beautiful rectangular building of the church was build under the influence of ancient Palestinian architecture. The doors of Anchiskhati church are decorated with traditional Georgian cross similar to the one made by St. Nino.
In the carriages of the funicular you will go up to the mountain Mtatsminda, where in any time of the day you can enjoy great views of Tbilisi. You will have a walk in the Bombora Park (the former name of the park was Stali’s) here you can see the whole city at a glance from the Ferris wheel, try a popular Georgian lemonade “Lagidze Waters” in a variety of flavours and sit in a lovely restaurant with a great view, which according to a legend was built for Stalin.
Visit the Pantheon, the burial place of famous writers, artists and heroes of Georgia.
Finally the tour takes you to Rustaveli Avenue, where attractions such as the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Parliament, Rustaveli Theatre, different art galleries and cafes will draw your attention and provide a cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Overnight in Tbilisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 3. Tbilisi –David Garedji – Bodbe – Signagi
The first destination of Kakheti tour is one of the well known historical monuments of east Georgia – David Garedji monastery complex. which is located in a stark, semi-desert landscape. This monastery was founded in 6th century by one of the Syrian fathers David. Later on it grew and consisted of 19 monasteries. It was one of the major spiritual centers which wereused to house even 6000 monks on special religious days. Afterwards the group will return back to Tbilisi. We will have a rest at the hotel and then meet the Easter in Sameba Cathedrals.
Drive to Signagi. Viste the Bodbe, visit the monastery of St. Nino: In the surroundings of the town of Signakhi is Bodbe monastery, where St, Nino, the Enlightener of Georgia is buried. From ancient annals it is known that the monastery was founded just after the death of St. Nino, in the first half of the IV century. Her Tomb was so revered that even the Mongol-Tatars ravaged almost the entire country and have caused considerable harm to the monastery, did not dare to desecrate .
Sighnaghi is located in the heart of the Alazani valley, called not otherwise than – the cradle of Georgian wine. Here you can enjoy the great taste of wine made from the best grapes. Its unique picturesque landscapes, snow-capped Caucasus mountains, picturesque Alazani valley, clean clear air gives the city especial charm and pleases the eye creating a wonderful mood. Signakhi has always been a source of inspiration. In the town center is a unique museum where you can see paintings by the famous Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani. It is impossible not to notice the Wedding Palace among the decorative cobblestone streets with lacy balconies. It looks common, but here you can get married at any time of the day or night, any day of the month. And you do not need to apply and wait for the appointed day. This is exactly what attracts lovers. That is why Georgians call Sighnaghi “City of love”.
Dinner and overnight in Signagi.
Day 4. Signagi – Lagodekhi -Signagi
Breakfast. Horseback ride to Lagodekhi. Lagodekhi Nature Reserve is located near the town of Lagodekhi on the southern slopes of the eastern part of the Caucasus mountain range in Alazani river basin. The reserve was founded in 1912 and is a sample of creating and saving unique wilderness areas.
All the protected area can be neatly divided into two zones, forests and meadows, which are separated by a strip of forest. It is a magnificent national park with undamaged ecosystems, being home to numerous endemic species of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. In the alpine zone is a group of very beautiful lakes of glacial origin, called Black Mountain Lake. In the gorge, there is Lagodekhi waterfall falling from a height of 1000 meters. In the reserve are numerous hiking trails of varying difficulty, which will please those who pass through it on foot and go on a journey on horseback as well.
Retourn to Signagi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 5. Signagi – Nekresi– Kvareli – Gremi - Telavi
After breakfast drive to Nekresi is a historic town in Kakheti, Georgia in modern day Kvareli Municipality, near the village Shilda. The town was established by King Pharnajom (around 2nd-1st centuries BC). In the 4th century AD, King Thrdat built a church in this place. This church became a refuge to one of the Assyrial fathers, Abibus, in the late 6th century. Around this time, Nekresi Episcopility was established, which existed until the 19th century.
The famous Georgian wine “Kindzmarauli” is produced in Kvareli. Therewe will visit the winery warehouse “Khareba”, which resides in a tunnel carved into the rock. In the beginning, the tunnel had a military purpose. It was built in the late 1950s, but the rapid development of military technologies weakened defensive functions of the tunnel and its use in military affairs has lost all meaning. In consequence, the tunnel became a unique storage of the best wines of Kakheti. After a tour around the tunnel, we will take part in a tasting of these wines and then travel to the Kvareli Lake and enjoy a delightful view of the Caucasus Mountains.
Trip to Gremi. Gremi is the 16th century architectural monument – the royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels – in Kakheti, Georgia. The complex is what has survived from the once flourishing town of Gremi and is located east of the present-day village of the same name in the Kvareli district, 175 kilometers east of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia.
Arrival in Telavi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 6. Telavi – Ikalto- Alaverdi – Telavi
After breakfast visite to Telavi is the main city and administrative center of Georgia’s eastern province of Kakheti. Arrival in Telavi. Telavi is not only the heart of Kakheti, it is also the center of Georgian winemaking, which is cult there. The air here is pure and fresh, since Telavi is located in a beautiful Alazani valley on the slopes of Tsivi-Gombori ridge. The landscapes of Telavi and its vicinities are very impressive. You will enjoy the green river valleys, the slopes of the mountains of the Major Caucasus with its peaks and wood-grown slopes and Alpine meadows.
Batonis Tsikhe citadel is located in Telavi town. It served as the residence of Kakhetian Kings of the 17-18th centuries.The castle encloses two churches, the ruins of the 11th century royal baths, the pantheon and the Persian style Palace of King Erekle II. At present there is established house-museum of King Erekle II, the Ethnographic Museum and the Picture Gallery. The museum houses King Erekle’s belongings and along with them: numismatic collection, early medieval sarcophagus, late medieval armor, and collections of XVII-XIX c.c. cooper household objects, weapons, Khevsuretian (East Georgian mountainous region) clothes. It is said that King Erekle II was born and died in the south-east part of the castle.
Drive to Ikalto Religious Academy. Late in the 6th century Saint Zenon, one of the “Syrian Fathers”, founded the Ikalto Monastery 7-8 km west of the town Telavi. The Monastery was famous as one of the most significant cultural-scholastic centers of Kakheti as well as of the whole of Georgia because of the Spiritual Academy in which outstanding Georgian philosopher Arsen Ikaltoeli used to live and work. Archaeological excavations revealed numerous workshops, wine-cellars, a smithy, store-rooms and other household rooms grouped around the Academy building. The Academy of Ikalto trained its students in theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, geography, geometry, chanting, etc. Besides the theoretical courses, the students were skilled in pottery making, metal work, viticulture and wine making, pharmacology, etc. Ancient Academy of Ikalto is also famous for the fact that Shota Rustaveli, the outstanding Georgian poet of the 12th century, used to study there.
Then we will travel to Alaverdi.Located 20 km from Telavi is a Kakheti relic, one of the most well-known medieval temples in Georgia – Alaverdi cathedral (located in the settlement with the same name). It was built in the beginning of the 11 the century and was one of the tallest structures of the time. The temple was built on the site of a small church of St. George. The temple is still called St. George Cathedral (Tsminda Georgi).
Alaverdi cathedral was repeatedly destroyed. Its first restoration was accomplished in the 15 the century. The second one was in the 18 the century after the disastrous earthquake. Restorations have changed the cathedral a little but nevertheless it remains the outstanding example of medieval Georgian architecture.
Return to Telavi. Dinner. Free time.
DAY 7. Telavi – Shuamta – Tsinandali – Tbilisi
Breakfast in the hotel. Near Telavi in the village of Shuamta you will see the fragments of Dzveli-Shuamta and Akhali Shuamta monasteries (old Shuamta and new Shauamta). These two monasteries absolutely differ from each other in architecture and were built at different times. Dzveli Shuamta monastery is more ancient. It is a complex of several ancient churches. The small church standing in the foreground is dated the 5th century, the other two – bigger and smaller domical churches – the 7th century. The bigger church is very similar to Mtskheta Dzhvari temple. The churches have the 12th-century paintings.
Akhali Shuamta Monastery was built later in the 16 th century. This monastery is still active. The big temple, the bell tower, the fencing parts of the monastery complex. According to the legend the monastery was constructed by Tina, the Kakhetin queen. When she was a little girl she had a dream where she was told to build an orthodox temple. In her dream she saw the site of the future monastery. The place appeared unfamiliar, and only when she married Kakhetin prince Levan, Tina recognized the place during her travel across Georgia. That was how the monastery was founded and later Tina took the veil there.
Next we will head to Tsinandali the well-known wine-growing settlement where the patrimonial estate of Chavchavadze princes is. In the manor there is Chavchavadze Museum with furniture and personal things of the princes. The museum is surrounded by magnificent park with a chapel where Alexander Griboedov married Nina Chavchavadze.We will visit the oldest winery, where we will hold tasting the best wines.
On the way back we will visit Tbilisi Chailuri fortress (the locals call it Niahura). This fortress is located on a hill beside the Kakheti highway. Fortress is a small pentagonal citadel with towers. The history of this fortress is shrouded in mystery.
Return to Tbilisi. Dinner. Free time
Day 8. Departure
The price per person $ US Dollars
Price Includes: Transfers, Transport throughout all round, Accommodation in Tbilisi (3 nights), Telavi (2), Signagi (2), Breakfast in the hotel (7) , Insurance, Services of the guide.
Not included: Air Tickets. Meals and Drinks not mentioned in the program.