With more indigenous grape varieties than in any other country (over 500 varieties)and numerous archaeological discoveries to substantiate its claim, Georgia proudly claims to be the birthplace of wine. The fact is that wine was born in the Caucasus and when it comes to wine in Georgia, no place is more representative of Georgian wine culture than Kakheti. Tucked at the feet of the great Caucasus Mountains and with wide, sun-drenched plains, Kakheti is a wine growers dream.
Day 1. Arrival
Arrival at the Tbilisi International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Time at leisure. Dinner and overnight at the hotel
Day 2. Tbilisi – Nekresi - Kvareli - Gremi – Tsinandali – Telavi
Breakfast at the hotel. Trip to one of the biggest regions of Georgia – Kakheti, which is a winemaking Cradle.
Nekresi Monastery complex is standing on a hill and facing a beautiful view of the Alazani Valley. Although it was founded by St. Abibo Nekreseli, one of the Thirteen Syrian monks who came to Georgia in the 6th century to strengthen Christian faith but already in the 4th century one of the first Christian churches was built here. Thus Nekresi Monastery ensemble includes several structures built in different times.
Kvareli Lake Resort is rather comfortable for the adults as well as for the children. Here you can find all conditions to enjoy peace, nature, silence and fresh air.
Gremi -visit of the lock Rattle which represents an architectural complex constructed in in 1565, and consists of church of Archangels Mikhail and Gabriel, a belltower, the three-storyed palace and a wine cellar (marani). The complex is surrounded with a wall, with towers and embrasures where the remains of the secret underpass conducting to the river still remaines. A trip to winery of “Hareba” who owns the biggest cellar in Georgia made in the Caucasian spine which extents from 8 km. Tasting of wine.
Not long after that, we will find ourselves in house-museum Tsinandali. At this point begins the second, European life of the Georgian wine. Prominent figure of the XIX century, Prince Chavchavadze was first to produce bottled wine in his estate by European technology and export it abroad.
Spending the night at Telavi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 3. Telavi – Alaverdi – Ikalto - Shuamta - Uljarma – Tbilisi
Breakfast at the hotel. Telavi is the main city and administrative center 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 center in the 8th century AD.
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.
We will land to the cradle of the Georgian wine-making when arriving at the Alaverdi Cathedral. Alaverdi Monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph (Yoseb, Amba) Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi – a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. At the beginning of the 11th century, Kakhetian King Kvirike the Great built a cathedral, today known as Alaverdi Cathedral, in the place of a small church of St. George.
Old legends continue to excite our imagination at the medieval academy of Ikalto. 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. Educational center in Eastern Georgia raised the greatest Georgian Poet of the XII century Shota Rustaveli and had the largest winery in those days.
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.
Udjarma is a fortress-town located between Tbilisi and Telavi, 40 km away from the Georgian capital. The road there lies through beautiful Gomborinek mountain pass. For a long time it has been hidden from the eyes of tourists, until 2010 when a new road to Telavi passing by the fortress was built. Since then Ujarma has become one of the major attractions and a must-see spot in the bucket list of many tourists. The fortress is one of the most important Georgian architectural monuments of Early Middle Ages, due to its strategic location and value in the past.
Overnight in Tbilisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 4. Tbilisi
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 5. Departure
The price per person $ US Dollars
Price Includes: Transfers, Transport throughout all round, Accommodation in Tbilisi (3 nights), Telavi (1), Breakfast (4), Entrence Tickets, Insurance, Services of the guide.
Not included: Air Tickets. Meals and Drinks not mentioned in the program.