Western Georgia – The ancient kingdom of Colchis, land of the Golden Fleece and princess Medea, centered on modern Poti, was originally a Greek colony and known for its famous School of Rhetoric and Philosophy. Kutaisi – biggest city of West Georgia. Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis as early as the second millennium BC. Many other settlements were subsequently founded up and down on the Black Sea coast by this famed civilization , today the location of the magnificent UNESCO monuments.
Day 1. Arrival
Day 2. Tbilisi
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 – Ambrolauri – Nikortsminda– Kutaisi
Breakfast. Moving to the North West region Racha. Visite to Barakoni Church. The Mother of God is located near the town of Ambrolauri, in the Tsesi village, in mountainous Racha region. Barakoni is one of the last important monuments in the tradition of medieval Georgian architecture. Barakoni was built in 1753, by the ordert of local lord the Ruler of Racha Principality – Rostom. The church was design by the architect Avtandil Shulavreli who is commemorated in the inscription of the eastern facade.
The church was closed and desecrated under the Bolshevik rule. It suffered further damage, though not serious, in the 1991 Racha earthquake, but was quickly repaired. Located on a top of a steep cliff, it overlooks Rioni River which joins the Lukhuni River just below the mountain.
Excursion to the unique Racha Temple of the Golden Age era – Nikortsminda Cathedral, built in 1010-1014. Nikortsminda has one of the most beautiful decorations from all Georgian churches and cathedrals because several different styles can be seen among the them, telling the richness of the selection of motifs and the manner of execution. Interior is decorated with frescoes from the 17th century and the rich ornaments, reflecting the mastery of the late-Medieval Georgian ecclesiastic art. The Cathedral is on the Tentative List for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visite to Shaori resevroir also known colloquially as Shaori lake, represents one of the most distinguished beauties of Georgia. The lake is located in Racha-Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti region and is rich in flora and fauna, rivers, waterfalls as well as dense woods. Length of Shaori amounts to 7.1 kilometers and the largest width is 2.7 kilometers. The deepest point of lake is 14,5 meters, while the surface area is 9, 2 km2 . The dam affects the micro climate significantly, causing extra humidity in the region. Shaori is fed by the tributaries and precipitation. On the way to Racha this incredible scenery will definitely drag your attention
Departure to Kutaisi. Dinner. Overnight.
Day 4. Kutaisi – Axaltsikhe- Borjomi – Kutaisi
Breakfast. Transfer to Akhaltsikhe. Akhaltsikhe (old name Lomisa) is cozy situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, at 1,000 meters above sea level. During a tour of this ancient city we will be able to visit Rabati Fortress.
Rabati– is mentioned in chronicles of the 12th century. But in fact it’s much older. In the 16th century it was ruled by the Ottomans. In the old part of the city there is remained a fortress, a palace and a mosque. We will visit the so-called Rabat, where it was also the palace of the rulers. In Rabat, special attention is drawn to rooms, as it is a good example of the old Georgian house. It amazes people with its grandiosity with a rich decoration. After restructuring of buildings, it is especially nice to enjoy all the beauties of this wonderful place.
Visite to Sapara Monastery – about 10-12 km outside of Akhaltsikhe up into the mountains. The monastery was established in the tenth century, but the principal church, St. Sabas, was built sometime in the thirteenth century. Until the twentieth century, the monastery had been perfectly preserved, as its hidden location saved it from Ottoman discovery throughout the empire’s three-century long control of southwestern Georgia.
On the way to Kutaisi we will visit Borjomi Kharagauli National Park. The history of the park dates back to Medieval times when it was used primarily by the local aristocracy for hunting. During the entry of Georgia into the Russian Empire Duke Mikhail Nikolayevich had a great influence on the fate of the edge, who was brother of Alexander II, the former governor-general of the Caucasus. He found a local beauty of the park and decided to build an impressive building as his summer residence. Later, he has reserved a large territory and banned hunting without an authorization.
Return to Kutaisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 5. Kutaisi – Martvili – Nokalakevi – Kutaisi
Departure from Kutaisi to Samegrelo region. Visit to to Martvili, visiting one of the unique site of Georgia – Martvili Canyons. Over millions of years, the water has created breathtaking gorgen limestone rocks, reaching a depth of 40 meters, at the bottom of which actually the river flows. The total length of the canyon is one kilometer available to reach. In the upper part of the canyon, you can take a boat trip and reach the very beginning with 7 meter high powerful waterfall. Martvili looks and feels like a paradise not only because of its beautiful nature and amazing sites but also because of its inhabitants, who welcome guests in a tradition of warmth and hospitality. Martvili district is truly one of the greatest places in Georgia combining unique natural environment with historical monuments.
Visiting the Martvili female Monastery. In the 7th century the monastery of Saint Martyrs was built in the village of Martvili. Its base was a huge oak tree that served as a pagan idol for centuries. People used to worship this oak as a god of fertility, fruitfulness and prosperity. In the 1st century, one of Christ’s Apostles – Andrew the first, converted the natives to Christianity who then cut down the oak tree and built a church named after Andrew the First.
The church is cross-domed, and paintings on the walls date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. A two-storey cathedral was built next to the church in the 10th c.
In the Middle Ages the Martvili Monastery was a centre of culture and education. It attracted many writers, translators and philosophers.
On the way back from Martvili to Kutaisi you will visit Nokalakevi , the site was known to early Byzantine historians as Archaeopolis,and to the neighbouring Georgian (Kartlian) chroniclers as Tsikhegoji, or the fortress of Kuji — a semi-mythical Colchian ruler or ‘Eristavi’. It was one of the key fortresses guarding Lazika (modern Mingrelia) from Sasanian, Persian and Iberian (East Georgian/Kartlian) attack. During the war of AD 540-562, the Persians’ failure to take Nokalakevi-Archaeopolis from the Byzantines and the Laz eventually cost them control of Lazika.
Departure to Kutaisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 6. Kutaisi – Ozurgeti – Bakhmaro – Batumi
Breakfast. Moving to Ozurgeti. Visiting Bakhmaro. It is located in the district of Chokhatauri, on the Meskheti Mountain range, in the gorge of the Bakhvistskali River. Bakhmaro is located 2000 meters above sea level, and known for its fresh air: a mixture of the sea and mountain air, resulting in a unique local climate. Bakhmaro is recommended for those who have health problems and can benefit from clean air and healthy food.
Nabeghlavi resort, also in the district of Chokhatauri, is known for its mineral waters. Nabeglavi spring water, as well as mineral water, is bottled here. The water is popular in the international market as well.
Departure to Batumi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 7. Batumi – Kutaisi
After breakfast Batumi sightseeing tour. Batumi is an administrative center of Adjara and is one of the biggest resorts in the Black sea region. It is located in the south-eastern part of Black sea, in a deep gulf. The name Batumi originated from Greek roots, earlier it had a Greek name “Batius Liman”, which means deep gulf. Scientists consider that at this particular place, ancient cultures – antique and Kolch merged together. The small city is filled with numerous trees of magnolias, during the flowering of which the whole city becomes covered in their aroma. The fields around the city are mostly tea and citrus plantations, spotted with ancient ruins.
The part which locals call “Old Batumi”, is approximately 150 years old, the building have an extraordinary beauty there – usually 2-3 storey are abound with chimaeras, unnamed mythical creatures, lions and other bas-reliefs.
At nowadays Batumi is quickly changing its face – here are rising new contemporary architectural buildings and ambitious sculptural projects are implemented. Batumi becomes modern and fashion summer place, which attracts foreigners, as well as Georgians. It’s a place to enjoy cultural events, noisy nightlife and Black Sea waves. batumi-botanical-garden.
Batumi day tour includes visits to: Batumi Boulevard and Musical Fountains, Dancing fountains, , Piazza, St. Nikoloz church, Statue of Medea, Batumi Sea Port, Alphabetic tower, Moving sculpture of Ali and Nino, Botanical Garden, Gonio-Apsaros Fortress and One of the museums upon your choice (Batumi Archeological museum, Khariton Akhvlediani Museum of Local Lore, Technological Museum of Nobel Brothers)
Visite to Gonio Fortress (previously called Apsaros or Apsaruntos) – The oldest fortress in Georgia. It is located in the southwestern part of the country in the Gonio village. In the 2nd century it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The town was also known for its theatre and hippodrome. It later came under Byzantine influence. The name “Gonio” is first attested in the 14th centu
Departure to Kutaisi. Dinner. Free time
Day 8. Kutaisi – Zugdidi – Mestia
Breakfast. Arrival to Zugdidi. The treasure of Zugdidi is graceful patrimonial palace of Dadiani princes, with great park. At the present time, it is a museum with uncommon historical collection, icluding the death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte. The oldest aristocratic family of Dadiani princes is known for its relations with Napoleon Bonaparte. In Vlakherna church, in Zugdidi, is kept one of the most precious Christian relics -Cincture of the Virgin Mary – christian relic, that belonged to Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.
Drive to Svaneti. Arrival to Mestia – Located in the heart of Svaneti, 1500 meters above sea level, Mestia is the center and cultural heart of the Svan people. Svans have their own traditions, unique architecture, cuisine, language which differs from official Georgian.Nowdays Mestia becomes the main tourists’ attraction, it is being renovated and infrastructure developed. Due to renovated airport this former towlet becomes easy reachable, tourist come here not only in warm season when one can climb up to the mountains enjoy amazing mountainous landscapes and extraordinary architecture but in winter as well – recently here was opened modern skiing resort. Visit of the historic- ethnographical museum, medieval church and fortification districts of Mestia, that are in a number of World Heritage List by UNESCO.
Hotel accommodation in Mestia. Dinner. Free time.
Day 9. Mestia – Poti – Kutaisi
Breakfast. Acquaintance with Poti – a port city, located on the Black Sea coast. At the beginning of the VI c. this city was a Greek colony and was called Phasis. According to the Greek myth about the Argonauts, this city was the place of destination of the Argonauts in their searches of the Golden Fleece.
Visite to Kolkheti National Park . It includes east coast line of Black Sea and Lake Paliastomi basin. In the lake archaeologists have found part of the settlement, inhabited at least since the II. BC to VIII. BC. National Park is created in order to protect and maintain Kolkheti wetland ecosystems of International importance. Kolkheti National Park Administration offers boat tours on Lake Paliastomi and river Pichori gorge, as well as sport fishing, bird watching and eco-educational tours. Tours are carried out throughout the year Visitors center of the national park will help you to organize a tour.
Departure to Kutaisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 10. Kutaisi – Tbilisi
After breakfast visit Kutaisi – antique Kutaia. In certain historical periods it was the second capital of Georgia after Tbilisi according to largeness. According to the legend about Golden Fleece, Kutaisi is that very land where the epic legend of the Argonauts was acted out.
Visite Bagrati Church – (11th c). It is an old architectural monument of Kutaisi. Nowadays only ruins are left from the church. One of the UNESCO heritage sites.
Gelati Complex comprises the churches of the Virgin (the main church), of St Nicolas, of St. George, as well as the academy which was the centre of cultural and spiritual life. The Gelaty monastery complex was founded by King David the Builder in the 12th c. It is noted by the finest examples of Georgian mural painting. Among them is the only surviving portrait of King David the Builder whose grave can be found at the gateway of the monastery. The giant 12th century mosaic of the Virgin with Child is completely unique.
Sataplia Cave is a rather small one, famous for fine speleothems and the dinosaur footprints nearby. The tour enters the through-cave on one hillside, crosses the hill underground and then goes back on the surface past the dinosaur footprints. This cave is hard to reach and not very much visited by individual travelers.
Departure to Tbilisi. Dinner. Free time.
Day 11. Departure.
The price per person $ (US Dollars)
Price Includes: Transfers, Transport throughout all round, Aaccommodation in Tbilisi (3 nights), Kutaisi (5) Mestia (1), Batumi (1) . Breakfast in the hotel (10) , Services of the guide, Insurance.
Not included: Air Tickets. Meals and Drinks not mentioned in the program.