ABASTUMANI   (Region of Samtskhe-Javakheti)

Abastumani climate- balneological resort is unique for its microclimate, crystal air and beautiful landscape. It located in south Georgia, 1250-1450m high from sea level and it is rich with mixture forests and thermal waters. Abastumani is considered as a moderately dry resort.  The resort is very effective for the lung and tuperkulioz diseases but the mineral thermal bathes are good for the treatment of central nervous system.

Abastumani Astrophysical Observatory was founded by in 1932 on Mount Kanobili, near resort Abastumani ( in Samtskhe – Javakheti), as the first mountaineous observatory in Soviet Union. Mount Kanobili has unique atmospheric conditions for astronomical obsevatons. The altitude of Mt. Kanobili is 1650 to 1770m. above sea level. It is one of the best observatories among the same altitude with its observational conditions.

At present in the abastumani Astrophysical Observatory observational and theoretical research is carried out in many areas of astronomy and aeronomy: the Sun and solar system, binaru and variable stars, star clusters, extragalactic objects, the Earth’s atmosphere, solar terrestrial relationships.



ABULI (Region of Samtskhe-Javakheti)

ABULI fortress , located on the south slope of lesser Abuli mountain, on latitude 2500 m above the sea level, is one of the most mysterious and not well studied megalithic structures from the Bronze Age.  The little Abuli mountain, which’s height reaches 2700 m above the sea level, is one of the volcanic mountains of Samsari range. At the top, one of the extinct craters, according to rumors, there is a lake. The very top of the mountain is covered with gray stones, of which the Abuli fortress was built.

The fortress has the shape of the ring. We can distinguish tower and living quarters inside the fort. Now in the area are no water sources. There are also not found cultural layers, although the excavations were not conducted seriously. In the current climatic conditions Abuli cleavage at such a height is not suitable for life, because of too low temperatures, although the Javakheti plateau everywhere are scattered ruins from different epochs, which show once active life in these parts, when the climate was warmer and softer.

You can get to the castle from the village Gandzani (Ninotsminda district), driving along the dirt road through the pass and rounded the hill Abuli from the south. And from there one have to go by foot. Hiking to the top of Abuli takes around 1 hour. If trekking starts from the car road from Gandzani, then whole trek will take 6-8 hours.

Akura (აკურა)(Region of Kakheti)

Historical sources that have survived to our time mention that even in the early Middle Ages, Akura (აკურა) was a place of active cultural and economic life of Georgians. In ancient times, Akura was located even higher – in the upper part of the gorge of the river – «Akuris Khevi». In these places, traces of residence have been preserved to this day and which is still called -«Nakalovrebi» (threshing floor). In the same area, in a hard-to-reach rock, a huge cave has been carved. According to oral sources, people who fled from different parts of Georgia, mainly from Kartli region, hid in the cave; According to the second version of the legend, the cave was used many times by local residents as a shelter during the invasion of the Lezghins.

1.5 km from the top of the modern location of the village of Akura, in the middle of a picturesque pine forest, there is an old monastery complex – «Akuris Mama Daviti».  (Father David), founded by the famous church figure – Ilarion Kartveli (Georgian) (822 – 875). The main building is a large, three-aisled basilica, built of cobblestone and brick. By the nature of the plan and facades, the basilica is one of the earliest and, moreover, a well-preserved example of Georgian temple architecture. This is a monument of the transition period (II half of the 7th century – I half of the 10th century). On the western wall of the church, small fragments of the Nativity and Assumption scenes have been preserved. On the territory of the monastery, enclosed by a fence, the remains of a cellar and other agricultural buildings have been preserved.

Alaverdi (Region of Kakheti)

Alaverdi monastery and Episcopacy cathedral is located near the hamlet of Alaverdi in Akhmeta region, 20 km from Telavi. Alaverdi Monastery was founded in VI century by St. Father Joseph Alaverdeli who arrived from Assyria (his tomb is the most important deity of the cathedral). Today‘s cathedral was built on the site of the church of St. George in the beginning of XI century on the Decree of the king of Rahns and Kakhs, Kvirike III (1010-1037), and after that it became the center of Episcopacy.

Alaverdy cathedral is the tallest construction (51 meters) among the Medieval Georgian architectural monuments. It is a cross-type, three arch construction. There are three entrances from three sides. Big space of the cathedral interior (42 m x 26 m) is illuminated by a light from 16 windows in the neck of the dome. Alaverdi has a relatively austere decoration with carving and ornaments generally typical for Kakheti religious monuments. The cathedral is built of cobblestone with internal part covered with pumice stone. The Alaverdi cathedral roof is constructed with glazed blue tiles. There are many instriptions of the walls of the cathedral.

The monastery is surrounded with a fence (XVII century) within which there is a three-level chamber – the residence of a Bishop; brick palace (constructed in 1615 by the potentate of Kakheti, Peiqar-Khan), bath, wine cellar, cells for monks. Alaverdi cathedral was one of the important centers of Georgian literacy. Here was rewritten one of the oldest Georgian manuscripts – Alaverdi Gospels (1054) which today is kept at the National Center of Manuscripts.

Alaverdi is presented for inscription on UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Anaklia (Region of  Mingrelia)

Anaklia is a new resort, located on the southeastern coast of the Black Sea, on the left side of the Enguri River where it flows into the Black Sea, in the central part of the Colchis lowland. Coast of Anaklia is about 8 km in length, and in the distance of more than 1 km, there’s the resort promenade, and some comfortable hotels are placed along it.

The earliest settlement on Anaklia’s territory dates back to the mid-Bronze Age and is typical to the Colchian culture. After the fragmentation of the Kingdom of Georgia in the 15th century, it was an important fortified town, sea port and fishing station within the Principality of Mingrelia.

Anaklia is located on flat terrain, bordered on the north western spurs of the Greater Caucasus Mountains Range, which can be perfectly viewed in clear weather, directly from the sea coast. There is a very fertile soil that, along with a mild climate, creates good conditions for the cultivation of many crops such as tea, citrus, feijoa, filbert, corn and soybeans.

Ananuri  (Region of Mtskheta-Mtianeti)

The Ananuri fortified ensemble , dating from the 17th century, is located on the left bank of the Aragvi River, along the famous original Georgian Military Highway, 66km from Tbilisi. It incorporates a circuit wall with turrets, a porch, a Church of Virgin, a minor Church of Gvtaeba, a tower with a stepped pyramidal roof of Svanetian type, a single-nave Church Mkurnali, tower Sheupovari, a bell-tower, a spring and a reservoir.  In the Church of the Virgin are buried some of the Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi. The Church of the Assumption, built in 1689, has richly decorated facades with the fine relief carvings featuring human, animal and floral images, including a carved north entrance. It also contains the remains of a number of beautiful frescoes.

The wall paintings executed between the 17th and the 18th centuries contain the depiction of Thirteen Assyrian Fathers (prominent ecclesiastical figures), which represent a convincible evidence for the study of the iconography of these figures. The authenticity of monument is preserved in architectural forms, materials, location and other necessary attributes. However, the visual perception of the ensemble has been changed following the construction of the Zhinvali reservoir in the vicinity of Ananuri.The physical condition of buildings can be characterised as good.

Ananouri is presented for inscription on UNESCO World Heritage List. 

Anchiskhati (The city of Tbilisi)

Anchiskhati – Its current name the church got in the XVII century. When a large icon of Anchi Cathedral (South Georgia)was moved here. Icon of the Savior – one of the greatest shrines of Georgia. It is made in the technique of encaustic (painting with hot wax paint), which originated in Byzantium before the VI century. Icon of the Savoir of Anchi became widely known in the XII century, when the court goldsmiths of Queen Tamara Becka Opizari made for it silver frame with gold inserts. In the XVII century, private owners handed it over to the Church of St. Mary in Tbilisi. Here, the icon of the Savoir was over 200 years. At the end of the XIX century, for security reasons it was placed in the church museum. On the western facade of the temple there is carved from stone medallion with a cross, which has been preserved from the earliest part of the structure. Tops and arches were rebuilt in the XVII-XIX centuriesToday Anchishati icon is located in the Museum of Arts of Georgia.

Armazi (Region of  Mtskheta-Mtianeti)

Armazi–  A part of historical Greater Mtskheta, it is a place where the ancient city of the same name and the original capital of the early Georgian kingdom of Kartli or Iberia was located. It particularly flourished in the early centuries of the Anno Domini and was destroyed by the Arab invasion in the 730s. The name of the city and its dominant acropolis, Armaz-Tskihke ( “citadel of Armazi”) , is usually taken to derive from Armazi, the chief deity of the pagan Iberian pantheon. The name first appears in the early medieval Georgian annals though it is clearly much older and reflected in the Classical name Armastica or Harmozica of Strabo, Pliny, Ptolemy and Dio Cassius. According to a collection of medieval Georgian chronicles, Armaztsikhe was founded, in the 3rd century BC, by the semi-legendary king Pharnavaz I of Iberia at the place hitherto known as Kartli. Minor excavations on the territory of Armazi carried out in 1890 revealed the plinth of adobe town walls, with stone steps, and cleared the two-room structure, where fragments of a woman’s torso of the 1st century AD were discovered.

From 1943 to 1948 large-scale excavation was undertaken and resumed in 1985 and continuing. These have shown that the adobe town walls and towers, built upon a plinth of hewn stone in the first half of the 1st century AD, surrounded the hill top and the side sloping down towards the river, an area of 30 ha. The land within the walls was terraced and various buildings were sited on the terraces. The three major cultural layers have been identified: the earliest dates back to the 4th-3rd century BC (Armazi I), the middle one is from the 3rd-1st century BC (Armazi II), and the relatively newer structure belongs to the 1st-6th century AD (Armazi III). Armazi I is constructed of massive stone blocks forming an impregnable base but were finished off by less durable mud brick. It also contains a great hall of six columns with a tiled roof. Armazi II is noted for a temple with an apse. Armazi III is the richest layer constructed of elegantly cut stone blocks, joined together with lime mortar and metal clamps. Among the surviving structures are the royal palace, several richly decorated tombs, a bathhouse and a small stone mausoleum. The area is now a state-protected field museum administered as a part of the National Archaeology Museum-Reserve of Greater Mtskheta. 

Ateni Sioni Church (Region of Kartli)

The Ateni Sioni Church  is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km (6.2 mi) south of the city of Gori. It stands in a setting of the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. Near the church there are the ruins of the medieval fortified town of Ateni (modern-day villages of Didi Ateni and Patara Ateni). The name “Sioni” derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem. Sioni is an early example of a “four-apsed church with four niches domed tetraconch (between the four apses are three-quarter cylindrical niches which are open to the central space).

The church’s cruciform interior measures 24m x 19.22m, and its façades are faced with carved rectangular greenish-gray stones, richly decorated with ornaments and figurative reliefs. The church is not dated but is very similar to the Jvari Monastery at Mtskheta, which is generally held to have preceded it. The walls of the church contain the first inscriptions in Nuskhuri or Nuskha-Khutsuri, one of the versions of the early Georgian alphabet, dating from 835. The first examples of Mkhedruli, a currently used Georgian script, are also found in the Ateni Sioni church and date back to the 980s. One of the inscriptions at the church commemorates Adarnase, the first documented Georgian Bagratid nobleman who was the father of Ashot I, the founder of the new royal line of Georgia.

Atskuri  (Region of Samtskhe-Javakheti)

Atskuri fortress belongs to the oldest period of Georgian history. On the South slope of the rock where the fortress was built are the remains of ancient dwellings. In historical sources the fortress is first mentioned in the XI century as one of the most important strategic buildings of historical Meskheti. The extant remains of the fortress belong to the middle Ages. Builders of fortress mastered the most difficult relief of the rocks and created a complex-structured facility.

Entrance to the fortress passes through a narrow cut in a rock tunnel. The internal structure was so inaccessible that it was difficult for an invading enemy to conquer it even after passing the tunnel. In XVI century, the fortress was captured by the Ottomans amd Atskuri fortress became a springboard from which the Turks attacked eastern and western Georgia. At present, the unity of the fortress buildings is destroyed. Here one may see building layers of different times.