Georgia forms a major part of the land bridge between the Black Sea and the Caspian and is sandwiched between the awesome Greater Caucasus mountain range to the north and the Lesser Caucasus to the south. It has always occupied a politically strategic position. To its south and west have been Greece and Rome, Byzantium, Armenia and Ottoman Turkey. Russia lies to its north and the Persian world to its east. Its key location is reflected in its turbulent history and amazing cultural diversity. Extremely diverse also is Georgia’s environment. Its fertile plains produce some of the world’s best wine. In its high mountains nestle isolated monasteries and, in the Svaneti region, medieval mountain villages with distinctive koshki (defensive stone towers) framed by high peaks.
Georgia’s sophisticated capital, Tbilisi, displays exquisite gold treasures from antiquity in its rich Simon Janashia Museum. Of note are the capital’s Metekhi Church, Mosque, Orbeliani Baths, Synagogue and 19th-century caravanserais. The Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary and Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition are important Christian monuments. The city’s fine domestic architecture reflects past wealth from trade and industry. Ancient Mtskheta has the grand Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and at Kutaisi, Gelati Monastery has magnificent architecture, mosaics, wall paintings, enamel and metalwork. Vardzia is a fascinating 12th-century cave monastery with many cells carved into the side of Erusheti Mountain. It has sumptuous frescoes and royal portraits. In the Greater Caucasus Mountains you can visit the Gergeti Trinity Church framed by high Caucasus peaks and the nearby Dariali Gorge.
Georgia’s contested history is reflected in the forbidding fortresses like Gremi, Ananuri and Khertvisi. Its Soviet past is revealed in Gori, the city of Stalin’s childhood. It has a museum devoted to the dictator, his tiny restored house and his train carriage. On a far lighter note, Georgia’s unique cuisine and famous wine provide unexpected culinary delights.
With Georgian Archaeologist, Davit Naskidashvili, explore the fascinating history, art, architecture and unforgettable scenery of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Read more