Tour type: UNESCO Cultural Historical
Tour Code: UH001
NOTE: A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance.
UNESCO World Heritage sites in Georgia are:
Historical Monuments of Mtskheta (1994) / Mtskheta-Mtianeti province
Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery (1994) / Imereti Province
Upper Svaneti / Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti province
Note: Historical Monuments of Mtskheta, Gelati Monastery are inscribed on the list of World Heritage in danger. It means that there is a threat to the sites’ long-term preservation, because of the serious determination of the stonework and frescoes.
Day 1. Arrival
Day 2. Tbilisi - Mtskheta - Kutaisi
Day 3. Kutaisi - Mestia
Day 4. Mestia - Ushguli - Mestia
Day 5. Mestia - Akhaltsikhe
Day 6. Alhaltsike - Tbilisi
DAy 7. Departure
Historical Monuments of Mtskheta
Due to its historical significance and ancient monuments, the "Historical Monuments of Mtskheta" became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Jvari Monastery Travelling to Tbilisi from any direction one can see from the very far distance the Jvari Monastery. Located up on the hill it blends harmoniously with nature and the mountain contours. It gives you a feeling as if it has always existed there, as if it is an organic link between the nature and a man made architectural monument.
It was built between the years 586 – 604 replacing the first, wooden one, erected by the ruler of Kartli, Guaram, with St. Nino’s big wooden cross on the site of the hill nearby. Guaram’s brother Stephanoz initiated the construction of a bigger stone church with the cross inside. The church has two entryways from the south and from the west. In a very high artistic manner. above the southern entry way there is a cross ascended by angels and above the upper window, nobleman Stephanoz is portrayed down on his knees in front of the Christ. On his left there is his brother Demetre with a patron angel, while on the right side stands his heir Adarnase with angels above him animated with open wings and hands stretched out. The child on his knees before the angel is Adarnase’s son.
It is a functioning church at present, not a monastery by itself, while on the way to Jvari church, in 3 min driving, there is a monastery complex being built. All together, the Jvari, the complex and nature create an unforgettable feeling of peace, harmony and eternity.
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral The history of this place dates back to per-Christina times. On this site of the future Christian church (its northeastern section) there was a temple of the Sun, the main cult of the kingdom during the pagan period. The first wooden church on this site was initially built in the 330s in honor of Jesus Christ during King Mirian’s reign. It was later consecrated in honor of Twelve Disciples during the reign of Vakhtang Gorgasali in the 5th, when he had a new and bigger church built instead of the destroyed one. The third and the main phase started in the 1010 when Melkisedek I, Catholicos of all Georgia, initiated the construction of a new church. He gave the architect Arsukidze an honorary and daunting task to construct a new church. The name of the architect is engraved on the eastern façade of the church and above the main window of the northern wall. There is no doubt that the church had magnificent frescos. The paintings that survived through the centuries date back only to the 16th-17th cc. At the end of the second half of 19th c, some of the church walls were repainted. Among the paintings of Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the most interesting is the one on ‘the pillar’ painted by the Georgian painters under the leadership of Grigol Guljavarsashvili (17th c). The ‘pillar’ is connected with the name of the cathedral: ‘Sveti’ means ‘column or pillar’, while ‘tskhoveli’ means ‘giving life’. The legend has it that when the Christian church was being built, one of the columns flew by itself into the sky and St. Nino prayed the whole night to get it back. Finally, when the cathedral was built, from that column flew a liquid and cured people, when they touched it. This is how the name of the cathedral comes. Svetitskhoveli is also a burial ground of the Bagrationi family members and church dignitaries.
At present the complex has two gates from the west and from the south. It is built from the stone of different original colours. Beautiful decorations all the around the cathedral from the outside enrich its view. Svetitskhoveli is one of the most significant Orthodox cathedrals in Georgia.
Samtavro It is a big complex including a functioning nunnery since 1811, a big church built in the 11th c, a small St. Nino’s church nearby and a bell tower built in the 15th-16th cc. St. Nino chose this site to settle down and stayed there for three days and preached Christianity. After the royal court officially declared Christianity as the state religion and the first Svetitskhoveli construction works were completed, King Mirian ordered the construction of a church near blackberry bushes where St. Nino settled. At present it is one of the beloved place of pilgrims to pray.
A bigger church was built in the first half of the 11th c. The church dome that collapsed 1283 as a result of powerful earthquakes and was restored in 13th-14th centuries. It is remarkable that the southern and northern walls are decorated from outside with intricately engraved stone ornaments. The whole church is built from yellow-brownish nicely cut stones. Inside, some fragments of the paintings have survived on the altar walls and the dome particularly in the oval circle of its hemisphere where one can see the image of Christ and the episodes from the gospel.
Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery
Bagrati Cathedral of the Dormition (11th c) can be seen from the far distance located on the Ukimerioni Hill in Kutaisi. As per the inscription on the Cathedral’s wall itself, it is known the date when the floor was laid – the year 1003, during the reign of King Bagrat III. A real masterpiece of medieval architecture, the cathedral has been in ruins for a long time without the cupola and ceiling. The reconstruction works on the site began in mid fiftieth of the last century and are still underway.
The Monastery of Gelati
Located in 20 minutes drive from Kutaisi, Gelati complex is one of the most significant wonders in Georgia. It contains the Church of the Virgin founded by the King of Georgia, David the Builder in 1106, the 13th-century churches of St George and St Nicholas and the Academy building.
A great number of murals and manuscripts are preserved in Gelati, most dating back to the 12th – 17th c. Famous Khakhuli Triptikh (icon of medieval Georgia with specimens of cloisonné enamel of 8th – 12th cc) was enshrined there. Wonderful mosaics and wall paintings are well preserved in the main cathedral. The greatest Georgian King, David the Builder, is buried there.
The Gelati monastery was the center of intellectual and cultural life in Georgia. A lot of scientists, philosophers were educated there. Among famous scientists were such scholars as Arsen Ikaltoeli and Ioane Petritsi.
A picturesque road from Mestia to Ushguli is only 45 km and it takes 2 hrs to get there. Almost needless to say that the road is famous for its magic scenery and breathtaking nature views. No words to express, no photos to reproduce.
Like all villages in Svaneti, Ushguli consists of a community of villages (four of them), located in a step like way with Mt. Shkhara in the very background. They lie one above the other: Zhibiani (Georgian: ჟიბიანი) some 2100 m above sea level; Chvibiani or Chubiani (Georgian: ჩვიბიანი); Chazhashi or Chajashi (Georgian: ჩაჟაში); Murqmeli (Georgian: მურყმელი). The altitude of the villages varies from 2086 to 2200 mm and it is sometimes referred to as the highest village in Europe. About 65 families live in this area. There is a small school there. Winters are severe there, 6 months of the year snow covers the whole area and often the road to Mestia is closed.
The watchtowers of Ushguli are dating back to the 9th - 12thcc and are part of UNESCO Heritage site. Ancient 12thc Lamaria church (the church of the Assumption of the Mother of God) is located on a hill. There are some preserved mid aged frescoes on its inside walls.
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