Travel information, Geography, History
The travel infrastructure in Kakheti is fast developing, since it is the most visited region of Georgia. One can choose to stay in a guest house, in a small and comfortable hotel, or a beautiful boutique-style hotel while traveling in this region.Telavi and Signagi are the most visited towns.
Geography in Kakheti being relatively diverse, the landscape is alternating mountains, valleys and semidesserts. The climate in Alazani Valley is characterized by moderately humid subtropical features. Average winter temperature is around 0 C; in summer it reaches up to +23-25 on the average.
The Kakheti Region is situated in eastern Georgia. The eastern region of Kakheti is Georgia’s premier wine-producing region. Almost everywhere you go here, you’ll be invited to drink a glass of wine and it’s easy to find yourself wandering around in a semipermanent mellow haze.
Kakheti is also rich in history. Here you’ll find the incredible monastery complex of Davit Gareja, the picturesque hilltop town of Sighnaghi and many beautiful churches, castles and mansions around the main town, Telavi. Telavi is set in the vineyard-strewn Alazani valley, between the Gombori Mountains and the Caucasus (visible to the northeast). It’s the perfect base for exploring the historical, architectural and viticultural riches of Kakheti.
Kakheti has the largest number of historical monuments in Georgia. The Batonis Tsikhe Fortress is in the center of Telavi. The residence of the Kakhetian kings was situated here in the 17th-18th centuries. The palace of King Irakly II, two court churches, a bathhouse, and an underground tunnel have survived. The fortress now houses a history and ethnography museum and an art gallery.
Introducing Historical Monuments
The Bodbe Monastery is one of the main Christian shrines of Georgia; here repose the relics of Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino of Cappadocia, the Enlightener of Georgia in the 4th century BC. According to legend, St. Nino passed away in Bodbe in 335 at the age of 60. At first a small church consecrated in honor of St. George was built over her grave. In 850, a cathedral was erected in its place. It is a church built in the classical Georgian style. Its interior is decorated with 12th century frescoes.
The David Gareja Monastery is a complex of cave monasteries dug into the cliffs of the Gareji mountain range. St. David of Garejeli was one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers who came to Georgia in the 6th century. The complex was built between the 6th and 12th centuries. The St. David Lavra is considered to be the main monastery of the complex, which is situated on a mountain that divides Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The Iqalto Monastery was founded in the 6th century by Assyrian monk Zeno. In the 12th century, a spiritual academy was founded at the monastery. Well-known Georgian philosopher Arsen of Iqalto, one of whose students was the great poet Shota Rustaveli, taught at the academy. The monastery complex consists of churches built between the 6th and 13th centuries. The relics of St. Zeno of Iqalto repose here.
Sighnaghi is a town situated on the top of the Gombori Mountain Range, which affords a panoramic view of the Alazani Valley and Greater Caucasian Mountain Range. A fortress wall with twenty-eight watchtowers was built around the town. There is a large museum of history and ethnography featuring a collection of exhibits of household items, work tools, ornaments, and weapons found during archeological digs in the Alazani Valley. The museum also exhibits paintings by famous Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani.
The Alaverdi Monastery was founded in the 6th century by St. Joseph of Alaverdi, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers. Gradually a community of hermits gathered around the monk. Joseph and his disciples built the Church of St. George. When he died, Joseph was buried in the Church of St. George in Alaverdi. In the 9th century, the magnificent Alaverdi Cathedral was built at the site of the church, in which the relics of St. Joseph now repose. Alaverdi Cathedral, 20km northwest of Telavi, is Kakheti’s main spiritual centre. The exterior is classically proportioned with majestic rounded arches but minimal decoration, typical of Kakhetian churches. Inside, the structure has a beautiful spacious harmony, and light streams in from the 16-windowed cupola.
The September festivities of Alaverdoba last three weeks, with people coming from remote mountain areas to worship and celebrate.
Batonistsikhe was the residence of the Kakhetian kings in the 17th and 18th centuries, built when King Archil II transferred his court back to Telavi from Gremi in 1672. Inside the castle yard is a Persian-style palace that was rebuilt by Erekle II, who was born and died here. Its central throne room holds many historical portraits including one of Erekle himself (above the throne).
The castle precinct contains the remains of the dilapidated Archil Church and a single-naved royal chapel, with holes for firearms in the walls, built by Erekle II in 1758.
Tsinandali, the estate of Prince Chavchavadze, winery, and park, became popular in the second half of the 19th century when Prince Alexander Chavchavadze, from a noble Georgian family, member of a hussar regiment, aide-de-camp to the Russian commander Barclay de Tolly, and participant in the war against Napoleon, retired from the service as a general and came to live at his ancestral estate. Prince Alexander was the first person in Georgian history to turn traditional home wine-making into a commercial business. To do this, he built a modern, by the standards of those days, winery next to his estate, around which he created an English-style park. In 1886, wine began to be produced from the local grapes here under the prince’s supervision.
You must also necessarily see the most beautiful Kvareli lake and Lopota Lake.
Visit Kakheti and you will have an unforgettable experience, uniting food and wine (together Supra) along with stunning landscapes, history, lifestyle and diverse cultural heritage.