Overview

There is hardly a person who saw this mountainous region of Georgia and had not fallen in love with majestic, unique beauty of the land of towers…Foreigners who come to Svaneti once want to return there again and again, while its inhabitants are always ready to welcome guests with genuine hospitality of mountainous people. Svaneti is a special corner of Georgia, with a special spirit, special history and customs… Lets start the journey to the clouds! It starts from airports of Kutaisi, Batumi or Tbilisi. Note, that if it is Tbilisi that you fly to, you will have to add another day to your schedule.

Duration: 4 days / 3 nights;
Length: 550 km;
Overnight stay: Mestia.
Tour itinerary:

TOUR PLAN

You have already seen famous Svan towers that guard every village in this region. But today we are going to a place where there these harsh lodgings of the people with strong fighting spirit are particularly abundant. Europes highest mountain village is located in the most eastern part of Svaneti, at 2200 meters above sea level. Ushguli is the community of four villages and historically presented the backbone of the former Upper Svaneti. Its name literally translates as Fearless Heart. Another name for these places is free Svaneti as neither feudal nor invader ever subdued the locals.

During the six months of the year Ushguli area is covered with snow. The rest of time the panorama of rocky peaks covered with glittering ice is livened up by emerald alpine meadows and low mountain forest. All this is overlooked from a height of 5068 meters by Shkhara – one of the most powerful mountains of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. While between narrow gorges there are dwellings of Svans picturesquely scattered, the earliest of which date to the IX century. This place brings alive and together allessence of primeval nature and live history of the ancient people. When in Ushguli one may feel as though a thousand years ago someone simply bottled the time…

Ushguli itself is an open air museum. Local architectural ensemble, including dozens of towers, brought Upper Svaneti the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other monuments can be seen in a private ethnographic museum, which is located in the house of the XVI century and is always open to guests. Another artifact of the Middle Ages – the church of the Assumption of the Mother of God that dates back to the XII century with the melodic name of Lamaria. The Svans believe that it is here that Queen Tamar of Georgia, the greatest ruler of Georgia whose life and death is covered with legends, is buried.

The capital of Georgia has long been a cultural and political center of the Caucasus. This city counts about 1,600 years since its foundation. Tbilisi’s walls have seen Khazars, Huns, Byzantines, Persians, Mongols, Arabs, Seljuks and Ottomans. Representatives of many nations, of various faiths and civilizations settled in this point of intersection of trade routes, leaving their mark in the image, manners and customs of Tbilisi. Thus was how the unique multicultural character of this city, based on the principles of tolerance and good neighborliness, was created. We will start to perceive this from the historical center.

Abanotubani is a district of sulfur baths. They are built on thermal springs, to which Tbilisi owes its existence. You will learn about the history of the city, hear the legend of the pheasant and King Vakhtang Gorgasali, then climb to the Narikala Citadel. A view from the walls of the ancient fortress offers a splendid panorama of the gorge of the River Mtkvari and picturesque spurs of the Trialeti range, among which Tbilisi is stretched. Then we move to the other side and visit Metekhi – the beautiful church of the XIII century built on a cliff. Here you can take great photos of the Old Town and hear the story of the patron saints of Tbilisi who became martyrs under the walls of this church.

Having crossed the bridge , we will find ourselves on a street named after French traveler Jean Chardin. You will pass by picturesque narrow streets and see the Sioni Cathedral, which was built by one of the greatest kings of Georgia, David the Builder in the beginning of the XII century. From here alleys of the Old Town lead us to Anchiskhati Basilica – the oldest buildingin Tbilisi, which dates back to the VI century and where one of the most esteemed Georgian sacred relic was kept. You will have an opportunity to examine this miraculous icon in precious setting a little later, when viewing the treasures of the Golden Fund and other exhibits of the Museum of Art of Georgia.

Next we have to take a short drive to visit the town of Mtskheta, which was the capital of Georgia before establishment of Tbilisi. Mtskheta is approximately 2,500 years-old and because of the abundance of ancient monuments – which are included in the UNESCO Heritage List – the town is sometimes called Georgian Jerusalem. Here you will see one of the masterpieces of world architecture – Jvari Church built in the end of VI century. The church harmoniously blends into the landscape and still amazes visitors with its perfect architectural forms. From here the beautiful panorama of Mtskheta, which lies between the peaks and the confluence of two rivers opens before our eyes.

Descending from Djvari you will walk through the picturesque streets of old Mtskheta, past shops with souvenirs and local crafts. Our goal lies ahead – majestic cathedral of XI century – Svetitskhoveli. It is the spiritual symbol of Georgia, under which the tunic of Jesus Christ was buried – a piece of clothing, in which the Saviour was clothed at the time of the crucifixion. Here you will hear the legend of Saint Sidonia and the Holy and Life-Giving Pillar, see graves of kings and ancient frescoes, here you will be able to touch the sacred relics of Georgia. This completes the tour of this day. It is time to return to Tbilisi.

 

As you know, better than mountains can be only mountains… Svaneti is a Mecca for climbers from all over the world. Therefore it is impossible to visit Svaneti and not try to conquer the snow-capped peaks! But we will leave this difficult climb to professionals and content ourselves with justa few walks to fully appreciate beauty and majesty of the mountains of Svaneti.

As the first stop will be Chalaati glacier you will need to dress warmly. A wild rocky road runs through the forest, along a beautiful mountain river gorge. It begins with a stream that flows from the ice and almost immediately turns into a raging torrent. Glacial water has a tart taste. Chalaati array itself is one of the largest in the Caucasus. It is situated under rocks of the impregnable two-peak beauty – Ushba- a mountain, which has been the cause of awe admiration for generations of climbers.

Even more fascinating panorama opens from the rope-way. Khatsvali is the youngest and richest in snow ski resort of Georgia! The length of the ropeway is 1400 meters that you pass in 10 minutes while admiring views that gradually open before your eyes. Khatsvali will award you with not only a new angle of Ushba, but also a great view of the other famous mountain – Tetnuldi. According to a local legend Ushba and Tetnuldi were lovers, a boy and a girl, whom an evil fate did not allow to marry. So they were frozen with grief turning into two mountains separated by a deep gorge…

You would not want to leave Svaneti. You will surely come back here again for a new portion of hot meat pie of Kubdari, touching legends and folk tales, traditions and those beautiful bright experiences that only incredible beauty of the Caucasus Mountains can give. But now for the last time we have a lunch in Mestia, go down the winding serpentine to Zugdidi and get you to the airport. We know that you would head off only to prepare for another, more substantial trip to Georgia, and we will be waiting for your return…

 

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Tbilisi, javakheti #2

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+995 555 37 18 18

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