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Arrival in Tbilisi. You will be meet your guide and transferred to the hotel. Check-in at noon. Free time 1 hour. Afrerwards start your journey in Georgia with Tbilisi city tour at Metekhi church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take a cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Walk down to the district of Sulphur bath houses passing by the only mosque in Tbilisi. Stroll through the Sharden area full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine tasting bars, souvenir shops, and breathe in the living past. Visit Sioni Cathedral, Anchiskhati Basilica, and the clock tower of famous Rezo Gabriadze Theatre. Cross the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. In the evening, visit a local restaurant to taste dishes of traditional Georgian cuisine. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from Tbilisi to Uplistsikhe. It is a rock-hewn town, one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus and a city center. Nowadays, it is a historical-architectural museum-reserve of Uplistsikhe. There are streets, squares, a sewer system, four gates, a secret tunnel that leads to the river Mtkvari, a fence, and so on. Nowadays, it is considered to be an open-air museum. In the written sources it is first mentioned in the VII century. Archaeological and architectural monuments are preserved in Uplistsikhe and its surroundings, the oldest of which dates back to the Early Bronze Age and belongs to the Mtkvari-Araksi culture. After Uplistsikhe back to visit Jvari Monastery- VI century church and monastery, located in the east of Mtskheta, at the mouth of the river Mtkvari and Aragvi, on the rocky mountain peak. Jvari Monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Upon adoption of Christianity, King Mirian raised a high wooden cross on this territory, which was worshiped by other Caucasian Christian nations. Guaram, the leader of Kartli, built a small church next to the cross nowadays known as “a small cross”. At the end of VII and VII century, Guaram’s son – Stepamoz I built a big temple next to a small cathedral, nowadays known as Jvari monastery. The wooden cross got covered up by a temple. The Mtskheta church of Jvari is the first sample of the cross-shaped type churches, it is a new thing in the architecture. Other structures around the monastery (tower, fence) are much older. On the facades of the temple, you can see religious and historical persons, there are old inscriptions too. Afterwards come down and visit Mtskheta city. Town is restored in historical-architectural style. Here you will find houses, restaurants, bazaar, souvenirs and many touristic places. But most important is Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, located in city center. It is main patriarchal cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the Mother Cathedral of Georgia, the place of enthronement (enthronement) of the Georgian Catholicos-Patriarchs, the burial of many kings of Georgia, their family members and patriarchs from the great cathedrals. Monument of Georgian architecture of the XI century, one of the four great cathedrals (Oshki, Bagrati Temple, Alaverdi). Svetitskhoveli is the largest historical church building among the survived ones in Georgia. It has been the religious center of Christian Georgia for centuries. On the advice of St. Nino, King Mirian, who converted to Christianity in the 4th century, built the first church here that has not survived and reach us. In 1970-1971, during the repair and restoration works (supervised architect V. Tsintsadze), traces of its foundation were found. Also, the plan of the basilica built here was completely outlined, which Vakhtang Gorgasali in the second half of the 5th century built here, after the demolition of Nino’s Church. The Catholicos of Kartli Melkisedek built a new church on the site of the damaged basilica in the XI th century. He invited Arsukisdze as an architect. Construction began in 1010 and was completed in 1029. During its existence, Svetitskhoveli has been renovated many times. In 1283 the temple was damaged by an earthquake. In the 14th century, Giorgi Brtskinvale restored the dome of the temple. The same century, the cathedral was damaged by the invaders. At the beginning of the 15th century, King Alexander the Great rebuilt the temple. In 1656, under the leadership of King Rostom and Queen Mary, the dome was restored. Dinner in Mtskheta. After dinner departure to Tbilisi and return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from Tbilisi to David gareji. It is one of the most notable religious and cultural centers of Georgia, the monastery cave complex. The complex was founded in the first half of the VI century by one of the Assyrian fathers called David. He came and settled in a small, natural cave in the Gareji Desert with his disciple Lukyan. That is how the monastery was founded, it was known in the later centuries by name David lavra. David Gareji Lavra was the center of monastery life. By the time it broadens and adds branches. Davit Gareji monastery building process has reached the zenith in XII-XIII centuries, during the cultural and political rise of Georgia. In Davit Gareji was developed monastic life and building style and was created own school of fresco painting. After Davit Gareji drive to Sighnaghi. The city of Sighnaghi is beautiful with its architectural form and excellent views of the Alazani Valley and the Caucasus Mountains. It is also called the city-museum. It is determined by archeological excavations that this area played an important role since the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The territory of Sighnaghi district was formerly known as Kambechovani, and later it was called Kiziki. After the recognition of Christianity as the state religion in Georgia, this side acquired great importance. St. Nino was executed and buried here. Sighnaghi is a word of Turkish origin and means shelter. City tour and dinner. After dinner departure to Bodbe Monastery of St. Nino. According to the legend it is built on the burial place of Saint Nino. Georgian kings were paying great attention to the Bodbe Monastery. It has been repaired and restored many times. In XVII-XVIII centuries, there were scribes: Zakaria Bodbeli (XVII c.), Onofre Bodbeli (XVIII century), Ioane Jorjadze (XVIII century), David Bodbeli (XVIII), Ioane Makashvili (1743-1837) and others. From 1837 Bodbe Monastery was abolished and became a church for believers. In 1889 the Bodbe Mother’s Monastery was opened. There was a teaching school with an artistic department. In the complex there is a monument of Georgian architecture- three-nave basilica (with three apsides). With the initial architectural shapes it belongs to the earlier feudal age. Nowadays, it significantly changed. Plastered from the inside and outside. The footprints of the XVII and XIX centuries restoration are apparent. After Bodbe drive to Telavi. Check-In hotel. Overnight in Telavi.
After breakfast departure from Telavi to Shuamta. The old Shuamta is located on a forested mountain about 1015 m above sea level. Monastery complex consists of: V century basilica, one of the most remarkable examples of Christian architecture in Georgia. VII century domed church which is similar to Mtskheta Jvari Church, but of a smaller size. VII century small domed church which is also a cross type but without corner rooms and with equal axes. All three churches are built with cobblestone and the travertines are used for the corners. In the XVI century old Shuamta Monastery was abandoned. The New Shuamta Monastery was built by Tinatin, the wife of the King of Kakheti, Levan II (1520-1570). She is buried in the new monastery of Shuamta. The main temple of the New Shuamta, a brick church is a cross-domed, inside – painted. Ktetor portraits are preserved here. The church was renewed by Levan II. The complex includes bell tower and other buildings. Scientists believe that both churches are built at the same time by the head of the Shuamta monastery, who built a small church for his separation. Under this church is placed a tomb. One of the most important shrines of the monastery of the New Shuamta is the St.Mary’s Icon of Khakhuli. It was located on the right side of the temple iconostasis. The face of the Virgin Mary, that is the type of hodegetria, is decorated with gold and precious stones (Turquoise, Diamond, Pearls). On the back of the icon are 44 holy particles. Nowadays, this icon is kept in the treasury of the State Museum of Art of Georgia. Dinnet ar the local restaurand. Continue our tour to Ikalto. Ikalto Monastery was founded in the VI century by one of the Assyrian fathers Zenon, whose sacred parts are rested in the same monastery. According to the legend, Arsen Iqaltoeli (XI-XII centuries) founded the academy there. Here we have relatively late period manuscripts and it does not contain information about Ikalto Academy. Three churches and the ruins of various buildings, academy and refectory buildings are remained on the territory of the monastery complex. Among churches the main one is Peristsvaleba church “Ghvtaeba” of VIII-IX centuries. Built on the site of the old church in which Zenon was buried. A little church of Sameba, where despite thorough restructuration remained parts of the VIII century domed church. Also single-nave Kvelatsminda church, which belongs to the XII-XIII centuries. Elongated building is built with the cobblestones. The first floor consists of 2 rooms and the second one is the whole hall (25mX9m) and it seems to have been intended for scientific gathering. The building style looks like the feudal palaces of VIII-IX centuries and It should be built then. Ikalto Academy was the highest educational institution in Georgia during XI-XII centuries. This is confirmed by the ruins of the building that remain in the monastery yard, which are more like the construction of secular-purpose building than the monastery. The ruins are visible on the base of cathedral. The building should have been monumental, similar to the Gelati Academy building. The difference is that the building of Ikalto Academy is two-storey. The first rector of Ikalto Academy was Arsen Ikaltoeli, who moved there from Gelati. Ikalto academy mastered theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, geography, geometry, chanting, etc. In addition to the theoretical courses, pupils studied metal processing, ceramic production, viticulture and winemaking, pharmacology and others. In the Ikalto Academy there was a wide range of educational work. Many important works were translated from the Greek, the manuscripts were multiplied, precious lists were created. The founder of Ikalto Academy and the first rector Arsen Ikaltoeli translated such an important work as “the rule of the Great Law” during being in his homeland. After Ikalto drive to Alaverdi. Alaverdi Cathedral and Monastery is one of the largest church buildings in Georgia. Its height including dome is above 50 meters. The complex includes buildings: Alaverdi St. George Cathedral, defensive wall, chapel, Peikar-Khan’s palace, wine cellar and bath. Alaverdi Monastery was founded by Joseph Alaverdeli, one of the Assyrian fathers in the middle of the VI century. At the beginning of the XI century, Kvirike the King of Kakheti built a cathedral (which is known by the name of Alaverdi) at the site of the little church of St. George. Alaverdi was one of the most outstanding chapels of medieval Georgia. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Telavi.
After breakfast departure from Telavi to Gremi. The history of Gremi, as a city, begins from XV century, when the first king of Kakheti George (1466-1476) turn it into the capital of Kakheti Kingdom. This status was maintained by Gremi for over two centuries. There were active bookish activities here and caravan roads as well. That is why it became the center of political, economic and cultural life of Kakheti. The architectural complex of Gremi consists of various buildings. There are the Archangel domed church, a three-story palace-bell tower, agricultural buildings, a curtain wall and the secret exit to the river Intsobi. There are also baths, market and caravansary. The most visible part of Gremi is so called The Archangels’ complex, which is on the end of the rocky ridge and consists of a high wall of domed church and palace-bell tower. There are 2 056 exhibits in the museum. Some of the items found in Gremi are kept in the National Museum of Georgia. Museum-Reserve also represents a series of paintings- portraits of kings. After visiting Gremi complex, drive to Nekresi Monastery. Nekresi Monastery Complex and urban archaeology founded by King Pharnajom (II-I centuries BC). In the IV century AD, king Thrdat built a church on this place, where one of the Assyrian fathers, Abibus settled there in the VI century. On this time period Nekresi Episcopacy (existed until the XIX century) established. Nekresi immediately was given a great importance. The political and cultural influence of Kartli was spread over the mountainous region of Eastern Caucasus. Bishops of Nekresi took part in writing activities as well. After visiting Nekresi drive to Kvareli. Dinner in Kvareli at local restaurant. After dinner visit to Ilia Chavchavadze Houss-Museum. Museum complex includes family castle and house of outstanding Georgian poet and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze (1837-1907) and exposition hall as well. The museum houses memorial objects of the poet and his family, poet’s manuscripts, sets of established by him periodicals, family coat of arms, seal, household objects, XVIII-XIX c.c. weapons, furniture, manuscripts of Georgian and foreign public figures, paintings inspired by the poet’s works (by H. Hrinewski, L. Gudiashvili, K. Guruli, S. Meskhi, T. Mirzashvili), rich collection of photographs and archive documents, collection of poet’s works editions on various languages. Afterwards drive to local winery Khareba. Winery Khareba owns an unique and rare wine cellar located in Kvareli, in the Alazani Valley. Carved inside the Caucasus mountains and opened in 1962 for the OIV World Congress, the cellar/tunnel is 7,7 kilometers long. The best wines of the Kakheti region have been stored and aged here for decades. The tunnel preserves a natural temperature of 12-14° Celcius with a humidity rate of 70%; the ideal conditions for wine preservation. Wine tasting and masterclasses: bread baking in Tone (clay pot), “churchkhela” making. After visiting Khareba drive to Tbilisi and Check-In hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from Tbilisi in the direction of Ananuri. Ananuri Fortress Complex is a fortress of the feudal era (XVI-XVIII centuries) near the village of Ananuri. It is located on the Georgian military road, at the beginning of Zhinvali reservoir, at 900 meters above sea level. The buildings included in the complex are: upper and lower fortress, fence, towers, Church of the Mother of God, Church of the Deity, “Mkurnali” Church, bell tower, octagonal cell and reservoirs. Ananuri Architectural Ensemble is one of the best monuments of the late feudal era of Georgia. This area (village) has been inhabited since ancient times. However, no traces of early buildings have survived. After the creation of Aragvi Saeristavo, it was included in this Saeristavo. Here was the main fortress of the Aragvi nobility. Its strategic importance increased even more after the weakening of the central government in Georgia (XVII-XVIII centuries). It was the residence of the nobles of Aragvi. The strengthening and restoration of the Ananuri fortress also belongs to this period. After Ananuri, departure in the direction of Kazbegi. Visit to Gergeti Trinity. The exact date of construction of the Gergeti Temple is unknown (However, according to ancient sources and architectural styles, the Trinity was built in the XIV century during the ascension of the Georgian Church), there is no information about the builders and its construction as well. In its name, the term “Gergeti” is attributed to the location where the temple was erected. Earlier, the village of Gergeti was cultivated on the left side of the river Tergi, and on the right side -the administrative center of the historic gorge- Stepantsminda. The temple is built on the left side, on the territory of Gergeti settlement. In the last third of the XX century, in 1966, the village of Gergeti joined Kazbegi, but the old name of the church remained unchanged, and it is still called the Gergeti Trinity. The Trinity Church of Gergeti, with its history and location, is the face of Georgia – a Christian island hidden in the most beautiful nature. Afterwards return to Kazbegi: Khinkali master class and dinner. After dinner departure to Tbilisi and return to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from Tbilisi to Bolnisi. In the village Bolnisi located Bolnisi Sioni Church – The tree-nave basilica. It is one of the biggest basilica in Georgia. It is dated back to the V century. Bolnisi Church facade has saved the oldest Georgian inscriptions. For the first time in Georgian architecture, at Bolnisi Sioni we meet relief sculpture images (bull head, various birds and animals), which are related to the pre Christian era, however are assimilated by Christian Faith. At church we also meet the Christian symbol, Crosses different shapes. One of the crosses (the cross in a circular frame with extended ending) is known with name of ” Bolnian Cross”. Dinner at the local restaurant in Bolnisi. After dinner drive to village Dmanisi. Dmanisi Museum-Reserve includes: a medieval town, archaeological layers of the Late Bronze Age and the Early Paleolithic monument of Dmanisi. It was introduced to the world after archaeologists discovered fragments of 1.8 million-year-old human bones during archaeological excavations. The person found in Dmanisi is the first European. The medieval town included the inner fortress, the secular and worship buildings of the city, the secret tunnel and the suburb buildings. VI century Dmanisi Sioni has a unique gate decorated with XIII century ornaments and inscriptions. Dmanisi was one of the most powerful cities. It was located on the trade crossroads. Dmanisi is one of the most important cultural and historical monuments of Georgia. The museum-reserve was established in 1983 and 2345 exhibits are preserved here. After Dmanisi return back to the hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from Tbilisi to Dzama Gorge. The Dzama Valley is one of the most beautiful places. The valley really offers to visitor a wonderful view. The Dzama valley stores up to fifty monuments of cultural heritage, which of them have their own histories. Kintsvisi Monastery is on a forested slope of a high mountain of the Dzama valley. Its main church is an exceptional example of a brick church from the Georgian Golden Age period. The monumental mural is one of the largest among the Medieval Georgian artistic ensembles. The Kintsvisi Monastery complex consists of three churches, of uncertain origin. The central church dedicated to St Nicholas is thought to date to the early 13th century, in what is generally regarded as the Georgian Golden Age. Its dating was possible due to the presence on the murals of the figures of three Georgian kings of that period. A very small chapel standing next to it is dedicated to St George, and dates from around the same time. The oldest church, dedicated to St Mary dates from the 10-11th centuries, but is mostly in ruins. In the 15th century the main church narthex was rebuilt by the local prince Zaza Panaskerteli. Its internal space was divided into three parts and decorated by frescoes. Among them also the unique depiction of Zaza himself. The interior is well-illuminated from the windows in the tholobate and in each arm of the cross. Original frescoes entirely covered the walls. In spite of being damaged, Kintsvisi murals are still among the largest and well-preserved Georgian Medieval wall paintings. Particularly remarkable is the figure of a sitting angel (the so-called “Kintsvisi Archangel”) from the Resurrection composition pointing at the open sarcophagus in a gracious manner, represented above the kings’ figures, between two windows. The expressive bending of the head, the wing movement, soft drawing of the angel’s shoulders are accompanied by the fine linear decorations of the blue clothes on blue background. The site is currently listed by the World Monuments Fund as a field project. After Kintsvisi drive to Mzovreti Monastery. Mzovreti is a castle-hall, town and monastery complex in the gorge of the river Dzama, near the Kintsvisi monastery. The name “Zovreti” (Mdzovreti) comes from the word “Zazuere” (Zueri place), which means customs. The buildings included in the complex are a church, bell tower, castle-hall. Only traces of the palace (a long rectangular building) and several residential and agricultural buildings are preserved. The complex has been renovated today, there are 3 functioning temples in the area, as well as a monastery sanctified to the Assyrian fathers, a library, and a magnificent orchard built by the fathers working here. After Mzovreti lunch. Then continue our tour to Satkineti Monastery. Sarkineti Monastery is a church carved in the rock named after Shio Mgvimeli. The carving process of the temple began in 2008 and was opened and blessed in 2011. Sarkineti Shio Mgvimeli Church is the first to be built in a rock cave since the 14th century. The temple can be reached through a 5-meter corridor. Two arched windows of the church are cut in the rock, and on the top of the rock, there is a bell tower with arches. The interior of the building is entirely painted. After Sarkineti departure to Borjomi. Check-In hotel. Overnight in Borjomi.
After breakfast departure from Borjomi to Vardzia. Vardzia Monastery complex, carved in a rock, XII-XIII Century Georgian picturesque monument. Located on a left bank of river Mtkvari, 1300 meters above sea level. The highest cave is located as high as 1462 meters above sea level. Vardzia fortress is arranged as storeys, on a level of 100 meters, number of storeys 3 – 13, it includes more than 600 storage facilities, refectories, shacks, pantries, backup storages, 25 wine cellars, with 185 wine-jars in total. Construction of the fortress was started by Giorgi III and finished by his daughter – Queen Tamar, who changed its original designation as a fortress and introduced it as a massive, fortified monastery. The complex was mostly constructed during 1156-1203 years, it was blessed on 15th of August, 1185, in the name of Assumption of Mary. Afterwards drive to Sapara Monastery. Sapara is the medieval period monastery at 1300 meters above sea level. The monastery was the residence place of the Jakeli family. The monastery was constructed no later than X century. At the end of the XIII century, a new era starts for the Saphara monastery. In the 30th of the XIII, century Mongols has invaded the country. At this period Samtskhe is already separated from Georgia and the rulers of the territory – Jakeli family, recognize the Mongols’ governance, however, they are still carrying with Georgian titles. During the period of XIII-XIV centuries, Jakeli family made Sapara as their residence and family graveyard. At the border of the XVI and XVII centuries, when Turks have already resided in Samtskhe, Sapara became empty. All the painting and the treasure were taken to safe places. The main painting of Saint Saba has been placed in the church of village Chkhari in Imereti. The part of the treasure has been delivered to village Ardeti in Kartli. According to the historical notes of Vakhushti Batonishvili at the beginning of the XVIII centuries, only one monk resided in the Sapara monastery. The monk from Sapara, George is mentioned in the scrip dated back to the 1773 year on the Zeda Tmogvi fortress. Before the XIX century, Saphara was completely abandoned and ruined. The service started in 50th, at the beginning it was Georgian monks, however, in the 1893 year Russian monastery was established. The Russian monastery functioned until the Soviet Union. Afterwards drive to Akhaltsikhe. Dinner at local restaurant the visit to Rabati Castle. History of the fortress starts from the IX Century, it consists of several buildings dated back to different periods of middle age. The castle was the most important defensive object in the region, so its walls remember many hard battles. It also served as a residence for rulers of Akhaltsikhe. Fortress had three layers of walls and was connected to its surroundings by an underground tunnel. It was renovated and expanded in XII-XIII centuries when it became a residence of Jakeli family, Toponym – “Akhaltsikhe” originates from this period. During the restoration of Fortress territory in 2011-2012 – Walls, citadel, IX-X Century orthodox church, Haji Akhmed-Pasha Jakeli mosque, madrasa and minaret were renovated. After visiting Rabati Castle drive to Mtsvane Monastery. Green (Mtsvane) Monastery, Chitakhevi St. George Monastery, is located in the middle of the deciduous forest near village Chitakhevi, just a few kilometers from Borjomi. There’s still situated the Father’s Monastery where monks pray for the welfare of the country and the people. According to scientist this monument of the 9th century was built by Christopher and Tevdore, students of St. Grigol Khandtstheli who was a very famous figure. The monastery complex includes three basilica-type church and a bell tower where the fretwork of the Georgian architectures are now well read. The church and monastery were built at the same time and date from the mid-twentieth century. It is built from roughly hewn stone and has almost no decoration. The bell tower has two floors. On the first floor there is a prayer room and richly ornamented pavillion on the second floor. In the XVI century during the invasion of Shah Tahmasp the monastery was raided and monks were tortured and killed. On the territory of the monastery even today it is possible to see the miraculous relics of monks and traces of blood shed by them in those difficult times. This is the greatest saintliness of the monastery and time couldn’t harm it. In the XX century of 80s the church was rehabilitated and in 2002 the Father’s monastery was restored. After Green (Mtsvane) Monastery return back to the hotel. Overnight in Borjomi.
After breakfast departure from Borjomi to Gelati. Gelati Monastery was founded by David the Builder in 1106. Here the greatest king of Georgia is buried. The ensemble includes the main church of the Assumption of the Virgin, St. George’s Church, St. Nicholas Church, bell tower, academy and fence. Gelati Monastery was the largest cultural and educational center, at different period. David could not finish the construction of the monastery and his son Demeter continued the work. In the XII-XV centuries the Gelati Monastery was granted full autonomy, recognized only the supreme right of the king, even the Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia had no governmental power. After the political collapse of Georgia, Gelati Monastery passed into the hands of the kings of western Georgia. On November 23, 1510, it was burned by the Ottoman army invading Imereti. The kings of Imereti Bagrat III and George II restored the Gelati Monastery and donated new lands. Bagrat III was called the “second builder” of Gelati. In the second half of the XVI century, the residence of the Catholicos-Patriarch of Western Georgia was moved from Bichvinta to Gelati. From the XVIII century, large-scale restoration works were carried out in Gelati Monastery by George VI, Alexander V, Solomon I, Solomon II and the bishops of Gelati. After the unification of the Kingdom of Imereti with the Russian Empire, the monastery was transformed from a church seminary into a state institution. Gelati Monastery owned a rich collection of manuscripts and engraved works of art that are now preserved in museums. Gelati complex is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Motsameta monastery is a complex of monasteries near Gelati. Its name, whose meaning is the “Place of the Martyrs”, is related to the brothers of a noble family of Argveti, David and Constantine, who organized a rebellion against the occupying Arabs in the 8th century. When the rebellion failed, they were captured and then they were promised forgiveness in exchange for converting to Islam. None accepted the offer, and they were later tortured and killed, and their bodies were thrown into the river. The water turned red and in memory of this event, the river was called Ckalcitela, which means red water. According to the story, the brothers’ remains were captured by the lions and taken to the hill, where the Gelati monastery is located. Later, the Orthodox Church of Georgia recognized them as Saints, and in the 11th century, the king Bagrat IV of Georgia founded a temple there. Officials from the Bolshevik secret police in 1923 took the remains of David and Constantine from the Gelati monastery to the museum in Kutaisi, but this caused such a scandal that the relics were delivered quickly and are still in the monasteries today. According to legend, there is a secret passage between the Motsameta monasteries and the Gelati monastery, used during the wars. Dinner at local restaurant in Kutaisi. Afterwards drive to city center and visit Bagrati Cathedral. Bagrati Cathedral was built in 1003, during the reign of Bagrat III. Bagrati Temple is an important monument of Georgian culture, both in terms of architectural solution and symbolic significance. It is a symbol of the unity and strength of our country. “Matiane Kartlisai” tells us that Bagrat III gathered representatives of different parts of Georgia and invited guests from abroad for the celebration of the blessing of Bagrat III temple. “All the rulers, the Catholics, the priests, and the heads of all the monasteries, and all the nobles of the upper and lower kingdom of the land, and all the other nations, were gathered together “. Doing so, he gave Bagrati Cathedral general national significance. It should be noted that the inscription near the north window of the building, which is the oldest example of the use of Arabic numerals in Georgia, gives the exact date of construction of the church: “The church was built in 223”. If we put this date in the Christian calendar, it turns out to be 1003 years. Until the end of the XVII century, the monument was safely preserved. In 1692, the Ottomans, entered from Akhaltsikhe, captured the Kutaisi fortress and blew up the Bagrati temple during the battle. They also seized the wealth of the church. In 1770, King Solomon I of Imereti recaptured the fortress and liberated the Bagrati Temple from the Ottomans, although the monument was further damaged during the battle. Nowadays, the church is completely restored. The Bagrati Temple has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1994, but was removed from the list after restoration. After visiting Bagrati Cathedral drive to the hotel and Check-In. Overnight in Kutaisi.
After breakfast departure from Kutaisi to Martvili. Martvili Monastery Complex is early medieval Christian church and monastery complex in Georgia. The monastery is enclosed. The main temple is named after the Assumption of the Virgin. And the Megrelian name Chkondidi originated from “Didi Chkoni” – big oak. In the past, the high hill of Chvenia, on which the monastery stands now, was decorated with millennial trees of “Chkoni” (oak). The buildings included in the Martvili monastery complex are a fence, rectangular storeroom, main temple, Chikvanebi church, bell tower, chapel. In the middle Ages, Martvili was a large cultural and educational center, where many famous scribes worked and many unique manuscripts were kept. The central temple is cross-domed. The facades of the temple are carved. The figures and plant ornament form a whole picture and depict the scenes from the Old Testament and the Gospels. The paintings of the XIV-XVI and XVII centuries are preserved in the temple. Next to the main temple is a two-story church of the X century. To the west, near the main temple, stands a high pillar on which is the church-room of the pillarist. The last pillarist monk lived here in the early 20th century. Dinner at the local restaurant. Continue tour to Mestia. On the way visit to Enguri Dam which is a hydroelectric dam on the Enguri River in Georgia. Currently it is the world’s second highest concrete arch dam with a height of 271.5 metres. Construction of the Enguri dam began in 1961. The dam became temporarily operational in 1978, and was completed in 1987. Visit to Svaneti Historical-Ethnographic Museum. It was founded in 1936. Museum includes a diverse exhibition featuring almost all fields of Svaneti ethnocultural heritage and handicrafts. The visit to the museum begins with the introduction of archeological material dating back to the III millennium BC. It is followed by a numismatic cabinet. Treasure of Christian art of IX-XVIII centuries, exposition of printed books, religious and secular manuscripts of IX-XIX centuries. The temporary exhibition space of the museum is dedicated to local and international expositions. The museum preserves the materials obtained as a result of archeological excavations on the territory of Svaneti region, unique works of Georgian engraving art and icon painting (icon of the Savior of the X century, icons of the first half of the XI century with the image of Christ enthroned and icon of St. George of Asani, icon of forty martyrs of the XII century and icon of the Crucifixion, painted icons of the Virgin Mary of IX-X centuries and others, ritual items – long-handled fans of IX-XIV centuries and others, ancient manuscripts (XI-XIII c), samples of early and late medieval military equipment, iron, silver, copper handicrafts, jewelry, tableware, textiles, ethnographic items depicting the life of old Svaneti and others. Afterwards check-in hotel. Overnight in Mestia.
After breakfast departure from Kutaisi to Village Ushguli. During the trip you can enjoy the beautiful views of nature – great mountains, rivers, waterfalls, canyons. On the way you can visit Love Tower which has a great history. Continue our tour to Village Ushguli. On the way visit to Lagurka. Monastery of St. Kvirike and St. Ivlita of Kala is located at1870 meters above sea level. It is called Lagurka in Svan. It’s is built in the X century. The church is of the hall type. In the middle Ages it was a monastic complex. The church was painted in 1112 by King Theodore, who had previously painted the Church of the Archangel in Ipari in 1096 in Svaneti. Monastery of St. Kvirike and St. Ivlita of Kala preserves all the treasures of the Kala community (X-XII-XIII) medieval engraved and painted icons. An enamel decorated icon is kept here, which the Svans call the “Shaliani icon”. Dinner at the local restaurant in Ushguli. Then continue tour around Ushguli. The altitude of Ushguli community varies from 2060 to 2200 metres. According to these statistics, Ushguli was considered to be the highest settlement until 2014. But in census of 2014 in the village Bochorna Akhmeta municipality (Georgia), only one permanent inhabitant was recorded. After that Bochorna became Europe’s highest settlement. Ushguli is connected to Mestia and Lentekhi with roads having intrastate importance. The road which connects Ushguli to Lentekhi passes through the Ughviri Pass, which is open only for three months in a year, the rest of the time it is covered with snow. In the area where Ushguli is located, there is a high risk of avalanche. In 1987, because of the great avalanche, locals became the ecomigrants. Nowadays approximately 70 household leave in the community. Close to Ushguli in the beginnings of Enguri flows the mineral water. One of the villages of Ushguli community, Chajashi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Typical Svan defensive towers are common here. Their number is currently up to 30. Visit to Ushguli Archaeological Museum and Lamaria Monastery. Lamaria of Ushguli is a church of the Mother of God. The church has a fence around it with a fortified tower. It is a basilica-type building of the IX-X centuries, with a three-sided, projecting apse. The church has an entrance from the west, and the chapel- from the south-west. The iconostasis is made of stone, the chambers of which rest on the stone pillars starting from the floor and are decorated with plain pillars. Ushguli Lamaria is one of the most important and highly cultural-historical monuments of Svaneti. Several layers of paintings are preserved in the temple. The iconostasis painting is contemporaneous with the construction of the church. And the plot images of the interior, fragments of which appear under the later layers of the painting, date to the end of the X century and the beginning of the XI century. The church was last painted in the XIII century. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Mestia.
After breakfast departure from Mestia to Zugdidi. Dadiani Palace was the residency of Dadiani, princes of Samegrelo. It was built in17th century by the prince of Odishi, Levan Dadiani. It is located in the center of Zugdidi. Nowadays, Dadiani Palace is a historical and architectural state museum. It is part of the palace complex of Samegrelo, which also includes a palace for Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani, a residence of her son Niko Dadiani, a church, and an adjacent botanical garden. The Queen’s Palace was reconstructed in the1860s by german architect Jacob Rice. Before that, It was a palace of Pupi, the sister of the Megrelian prince. Rice built arches on the second floor and added wide wings to it. Niko Dadiani’s Palace was built in the 1880s by the Russian architect Leonid Vasiliev. It is a two-storey residence with a stone balcony and the biggest ballroom in Georgia. The museum was founded in April 1921 on the basis of the cultural heritage of Megrelian prince David’s son Levan Dadiani, taken from the treasury and the churches and monasteries of Samegrelo. Dinner at the local restaurant in Zugdidi. After dinner departure to Tbilisi and Check-In hotel. Overnight in Tbilisi.
After breakfast departure from your Hotel to Tbilisi International Airport.
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