1. Shatili & Mutso village fortresses
Shatili is located 150 km north of Tbilisi, and 1400 m above sea level. Shatili is the one of the most popular places for tourists in the high mountain region of Khevsureti. In Shatili, visitors can visit the Shatili village-fortress, with more than 60 towers from the 14th-15th century, Qachu fortress (13th – 14th c), Crypts in Anatori and Mutso, and Mutso Castle.
Shatili and Mutso are the two remaining villages from the 5 Village fortress of Khevsureti. Shatili’s towers and traditional houses were restored to very good condition in 1998-2000 and are now on the UNESCO world Heritage List. Mutso was conquered and demolished by Russian solders in 1813. Antaori was another great village on the Georgian border with Russia, but during the time of the Black Death in Europe, nearly every person from this village succumbed; all of their skeletons are now in Anatori Crypts.
2. Mtskheta Town
Mtskneta, another UNESCO world Heritage site, is located 20 km north of Tbilisi. Mtskheta was the Capital of Georgia from the 5th century BC until the 4th century AD. There are so much interesting places for every kind of visitors (Archaeological sites, ancient Churches, Citadels, Cathedral, Monasteries, Museums and Natural Places). Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the most sacred places in Georgia and, along with Jvari Monastery, the clear highlight of a trip to Mtskheta. It was founded in 1010, built on the site of Georgia's first church, and contains the graves of the ancient Georgian kings, including Sidonia, who was said to have been buried holding Christ's robe. The 6th century monastery of Jvari is situated on a cliff above Mtskheta. It is the culmination of a number of artistic and architectural aspirations in early Christian Georgian architecture. The view from above is amazing.
3. Vardzia Cave town, Khertvisi and Tmogi Fortress
Vardzia, situated in the South-West part of Georgia, is the 12th century cave town, the biggest in all of the Caucasus. It is a great sight, one of the most spectacular in the whole of Georgia. A complete monastery, with hundreds of monk cells, a church carved out of the rock of a mountain overlooking the Mtkvari River. Vardzia was constructed during the reign of two Kings: George III and his daughter Queen Tamara. In its heyday there were three thousand people living here. Today Vardzia consists of more than 600 rooms, connected with corridors.
Seven kms South-West of Vardzia lies Khertvis Fortress. Khertvisi Fortress is one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia and was functional throughout the Georgian feudal period. The fortress was first build in the 2nd century BC. The church was built in 985, and the present walls build in 1354. As the legend says, Khertvisi was destroyed by Alexander the Great. In the 10th-11th centuries it was the center of the Meskheti region, becoming a town during the 12th century. In the 13th century, Mongols destroyed it. Khertvisi fortress is situated on the high rocky hill in the narrow canyon at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Paravani rivers.
4. Upper Svaneti - Mestia & Ushguli
The Georgian high mountain regions of Upper Svaneti and Ushguli are UNESCO world heritage sites and the diamonds of Georgia. Ushguli is the highest village in Europe. Preserved by its long isolation, the Upper Svaneti region of Georgia is an exceptional example of mountain scenery with medieval-type villages and tower-houses. The village of Ushguli still has more than 200 of these very unusual houses, which were used both as dwellings and as defense posts against the invaders who plagued the region. Upper Svaneti is an exceptional landscape that has preserved to a remarkable degree its original medieval appearance, notable for the distribution, form, and architecture of its human settlements. The characteristic landscape of Upper Svaneti is formed by small villages, dominated by their graceful church towers and situated on the mountain slopes, with a natural environment of gorges and alpine valleys and a backdrop of snow-covered mountains.
5. Sataphlia Caverns and Dinosaurs foot-prints, Bagrati Temple, Gelati Academy
Gelati Monastery is of special importance for its architecture, its mosaics, its wall paintings, and its enamel and metal work. It was not simply a monastery: it was a centre of science and education, and the Academy established there was one of the most important centres of culture in ancient Georgia. The monastery belongs to the "golden age” of medieval Georgia, a period of political strength and economic growth between the reigns of King David IV 'the Builder' (1089-1125) and Queen Tamar (1184-1213).
Bagrati Cathedral is located on a hill on the left bank of the Rioni, and it is reached by a long, winding stairway. Although partly destroyed by the Turks in 1691, its ruins still lie in the centre of Kutaisi. Richly ornamented capitals and fragments of piers and vaulting are scattered throughout the interior. Gelati & Bagrati are UNESCO world heritage sites in Sataplia State Reserve, a most popular touring place in Georgia. It is a complex of speleological, paleontological, geological, and botanical monuments. Sataplia is situated in Inereti Lend, Tskaltubo district, near Kutaisi. Sataplia is famous for its rare and beautiful caves, and in 1933, there was found here a dinosaur trace.
Learn more about Georgia and Mindi’s thoughtfully designed tours of Tbilisi, Ushguli, Kazbegi and more here: Private tours of Georgia with Mindia.