10 Best Attractions in Georgia That You MUST SEE
The small, mountainous country of Georgia in Europe is often referred to as the ’pearl’ of the Caucasus. It lies in the central and eastern region of the Caucasus Mountains, and is bordered by the Black Sea on its western coast. The people of Georgia call their country the ‘balcony’ of Europe. This is indeed an appropriate description befitting its incredibly beautiful landscape. The landscape features mountain tops dotted with ancient towers and churches, along with rich green valleys carpeted with vineyards.
Through the ages, Georgia has witnessed a tumultuous and complicated history with several invasions, and wars which have led to the rise and fall of different empires. However, this country’s diverse history has given it a glorious heritage of art and architecture.
Today, Georgia with its ancient relics of churches and monasteries has caught up with the modern world. This is evident from its attractive contemporary buildings and well developed infrastructure. Its capital, the 1,500 year old city of Tbilisi, is one of the world’s most ancient cities. Georgia’s unique culture coupled with the warmth and hospitality of its people makes it a fantastic holiday destination.
Best Georgia Attractions
Situated on a steep hill overlooking the city of Tbilisi and the River Kura is the ancient fortress of Narikala. It dates back to the 4th century, and more additions were made over a prolonged stretch of time, however much of it has been destroyed and what remains today are walls and parts of the fortress from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Lying between the sulphur baths and the famous botanical gardens of Tbilisi, Narikala offers a breathtaking view. The fortress area contains the recently restored Saint Nicholas church, which originally belongs to the thirteenth century. The interior of the church is adorned with frescoes depicting scenes from the Bible as well as the earlier history of Georgia.
2. Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
This medieval cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the ancient town of Mtskheta, near the capital Tbilisi, it is regarded as an important place of worship for Christians and is definitely worth visiting.
Svetitkshoveli Cathedral has had a long history of being subjected to various attacks from different invaders like the Persians, Arabians and Russians, from time to time. It has also been a victim to natural disasters such as earthquakes.
The present cathedral is a rebuilt version of the original fourth century one. Built of stone, the walls in the interior of this impressive church have several relics engraved on them, including rare frescoes and embellishments made with fine stonework
3. Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
The Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi is popularly known as the Sameba Cathedral. It is the main church of the Georgian Orthodox Church and ranks among the largest cathedrals in the Southern Caucasus region.
The construction of the church was publicly declared as being a symbol of the national and spiritual revival of Georgia. Many businessmen and other citizens rose to the occasion and gave donations to facilitate its construction .The building of the Trinity Cathedral began in 1995 and after a period of 9 years, was completed in November 2004. It is the chief religious centre in Georgia, and is a must visit site when you are in this country.
The Sameba Cathedral is built on a hill rising above the banks of the River Kura, in the old town area of Tbilisi. The architectural design of this cathedral is based on a synthesis of traditional Georgian style through its different stages in history, with Byzantine influences. The building itself measures 105.5 metres from the ground to the top of the cross. What is particularly striking is the gilded dome with a 7.5 metre tall gold cross mounted on it.
The cathedral complex is vast and looks very grand. Apart from the main church, there are nine chapels, a bell tower, a monastery, an academy of religion and several workshops.
4. Gergeti Trinity Church
Also known as the Holy Trinity Church, this fourteenth century church is built by the side of a river at a height of 2,170 metres, atop a mountain near the village of Gergeti. It lies just beneath Mount Kazbegi, one of the highest peaks of the Caucasus range. Its unique location provides picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and scenery.
Trinity Church is an iconic symbol for Georgia and a popular destination for all visitors to this beautiful country. It can be accessed by a thirty minute jeep or car ride up the mountain trail. If you are an adventure lover or trekker, there is a steep three hour climb up the mountain that you can explore.
Gergeti Church is used even today as a place of worship and comes under the Georgian Orthodox Church.
5. The Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary
This Georgian Orthodox Church is the oldest existing church of its kind in Tbilisi. It dates back to the sixth century and as a result of Georgia’s history of being subjected to wars and attacks, has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. During the Soviet regime, it was not allowed to function as a church, and was converted into a museum for handmade arts and craft.
Restoration of the church began as part of the 1500 year jubilee celebrations of the city of Tbilisi. However, it was only in 1991 when Georgia declared its independence that the basilica was restored to its original status as a church, and began to be used again for religious purposes.
The Basilica has a structure and design typical of early Georgian Christian churches. It is a three sided Anchiskhati building with three entrances. Beautiful frescoes, some of them nearly 400 years old, can be seen inside the basilica.
Uplistsikhe means the Lord’s fortress. True to its name, this ancient cave-like fortress appears to have been dug out of the rocks in the area. These ancient ruins are simply intriguing, particularly notable is a hall made of rock and supported by massive stone pillars. Also visible are remnants of a bakery, a prison and special places where sacrificial ceremonies probably took place in the past.
7. Bagrati Cathedral
A very famous and significant monument in Georgia, the huge Bagrati Cathedral was built in the eleventh century. It is named after King Bagrat who ruled at that time. It is also known as the Kutaisi Cathedral, since it is located in the city of Kutaisi. Perched on top of Uk’imerioni Hill, the cathedral stands out as a distinct landmark and beautiful specimen of medieval Georgian architecture.
Bagrati Cathedral is listed along with the Gelati Monastery as a UNESCO World Heritage site. At present however, because of heavy restoration works, it comes under the endangered list of World heritage sites.
It is officially a part of the Georgian Orthodox Church, but not used much as a place of prayer. Its main attraction now is that of a heritage site and a visitor’s destination. The Cathedral looks especially beautiful at night with its illumination.
8. Samtavro Monastery
This monastery complex used to be a coronation place and burial site of the Georgian royal family. It is believed that the first Christian King and his Queen are buried here.
A big church called the Samtavro Church, forms part of the main building of the monastery. It is here that the famous Georgian monk Gabriel has been laid to rest. Another small church called the Nunnery of Saint Nino, which belongs to the 4th century, is also found here. A three storied bell tower of the 13th century stands in the same complex.
9. Kartlis Deda
This amazing iconic monument built on top of Sololaki Hall in Tblisi, is visible from all parts of the city centre. Kartlis Deda, which means ‘Mother of Georgia’, is the symbolic icon of Georgia.
It is a 20 metre high statue of a woman in the Georgian national dress, holding a cup of wine in her left hand and a sword in her right hand. The wine symbolizes warmth and hospitality for all friends of Georgia, while the sword symbolizes the treatment to be meted out to its enemies.
The statue was designed by a famous Georgian sculptor named Elguia Amashukeli. It was installed in 1958 as a part of the 1500 years anniversary celebrations of the city of Tbilisi.
10. Dadiani Palaces History and Architectural Museum
The Dadiani Palaces Museum is believed to be one of the most wonderful and prominent palaces in the entire Caucasus region. The palace belonged to the Dadianis, an ancient royal family that was related to Napoleon Bonaparte’s family through a matrimonial alliance. By virtue of this relationship, the Dadianis received, through succession, many relics connected with Napoleon, which form part of the priceless treasures which are found in this museum.
Three palaces form part of the museum complex along with the Blachernae Virgin Church. The huge palace garden has now become the Zugdidi Botanical Garden and it has certain unique trees which are more than two hundred years old.
The Dadiani Palaces History and Architecture Museum is a treasure house of invaluable relics and artefacts which bear testimony to the rich cultural heritage of Georgia. The blessed Virgin shroud occupies a pride of place in this museum, and is open for public viewing on big church holidays.
The museum also houses priceless articles connected with Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, including one of his death masks dated 1833. Apart from this, the personal collections of the Dadiani princes, which include items of crockery, furniture, silverware are all exhibited in this museum. Manuscripts pertaining to the 13th and 14th centuries also form part of the vast collections.
With such a varied and treasured collection of items related to the history and culture of Georgia, the Dadiani Palaces Museum is a wonderful place to visit and enhance your knowledge, while holidaying in Georgia.