It is a mountainous, volcanic region, traversed by ravines, springs and lakes, as well as large and fast moving rivers. But this diverse landscape provides a prefect cultivation area for the production of some of Georgia’s most famous and best known traditional foods and cheeses.
Samtkhe-Javakheti’s location at the crossroads of three civilizations contributed to an intense development of relations between the ancient cultures of Georgia, Asia Minor, and the Middle East.
The only limit to the amount of adventure you can get here is the amount that you can take. Ski-jumping, on and off-piste skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, horse-riding, horse-drawn sleighs and snow-mobile tours to adjacent territories can all be found in or near the mountain resort of Bakuriani.
And if you don’t like snowy mountains, try Aspindza district and kide or mountain-bike through the beautiful trails. Water enthusiasts can find tranquillity in the regions’ lakes which also offer amazing fishing possibilities, but if you are not afraid of a fast flowing mountain river and you like to feel a true adrenaline rush, go white water rafting on the river Mtkvari. This is also one of the best areas in Georgia to take a scenic mountain flights to take in all the stunning beauty of the rugged landscape.
Resorts, Spas and Mineral Springs
The park of Mineral Waters
The Mineral Water Park of Borjomi is a fascinating year round experience. Everyone has their own favourite season here, and they all have their own splendour and beauty. The park covers 30 hectares of the gorge and is the recreation centre of Borjomi.
Borjomi Mineral Waters
The most famous and incredible thing about Borjomi is its unique mineral waters that are at least the equal of the world’s best. Its natural high purity and healthy chemical components make it not only pleasant to drink but also a perfect preventive and curative against a number of diseases. The water is rich in the most important and necessary micro-elements for live and each spring in the region characterized by the effect these various properties have on the wildlife. There are hundreds of different springs and each one has its own unique taste and temperature.
Bakuriani, the great mountain resort of Georgia, is a feast for snow-lovers and skiers. It is an internationally known winter sports centre, built to Olympic standards and Novices and children equally enjoy their first winter sports steps in this winter paradise.
Off the slopes, one of the most interesting places to visit is Bakuriani is the Botanical Garden, there are over 1,500 species of plants.
The village is situated along the river Otskhe, which is crossed by numerous bridges. Its impressive old buildings have witnessed its glorious past. Today, two of the sanatoria have been restored and reopened to allow a new generation to enjoy the spa and its natural springs.
Abastumani is also a starting point for hikes into the National Park; the Zekari Pass can be either climbed on foot, horse or mountain bike.
Atskuri is a former feudal fortress located on the river Mtkvari which dates back to at least 10th century. The only entrance is a narrow tunnel cut into the cliff.
Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the largest in Europe and covers more than 76,000 hectares of native forest and sub-alpine and alpine meadows it is the first National Park in the Caucasus to meet international standards. Red and endemic species listed in Georgia’s Red Data Book (a list of endangered and protected species) can be found in here, including a wonderful array of mammals. Among large carnivores it is possible to find grey wolves, lynx and brown bears while roe deer and wild boar can frequently be seen. Among its native birds, the bird enthusiasts will easily spot rare species such as the golden eagle, griffon vulture, black vulture and the Caucasian black grouse.
18th century Akhaltsikhe Fortress is often called the symbol of tolerance, occupies around 7 hectares and was returned to its original appearance. A church, mosque, minaret, synagogue, as well as Jaqelebi Palace, a historic museum, old baths and a citadel, have been restored on the territory of Rabat Castle.
Saphara Monastery is one of the most interesting monuments of Georgian architecture. The monastery included 12 churches and chapels. It’s surrounded by a wall equipped with an observation tower and even has a fortress where people from neighboring villages used to hide during times of war.
Golden Fortress (OkrosTsikhe)
The fortress was built in late 13th and early 14th centuries and is one of the largest fortresses in Georgia offering picturesque views from its highest towers.
Chule St. George Monastery, dating back to 1308, is located in the foothills in the vicinity of Adigeni. Its access road passes through a narrow rocky ravine covered by coniferous forests and a tight passage through the hills, a spectacular experience.
Zarzma Monastery, located on top of a hill, includes a church bell tower, a chapel, ruins of two churches and a spring.
The Khertvisi Fortress was built on a rocky mountain at the junction of the ArtaaniMtkvari and JavakhetiMtkvari rivers. The first record of Khertvisi is part of a legend, in which it was one of the first fortresses that Alexander the Great came across in Georgia.
An inscription on a damaged stone reads “The king of the Kings” and is dated from 985.
This noteworthy Georgian architectural and cultural monument consists of about 200 caves built into the rocky cliffs and rises over 16 levels. The Vani Cavern complex included a monastery in the 8-16th centuries and the small church, which still remains.
In 630-660 AD SargisTmogveli, an honourable political figure and philosopher, worked and lived here. Tmogvi fortress later became one of the most important fortress-cities in Georgia, and is located on a rocky hill overlooking the Mtkvaririver. The ruins of an old village, located on both banks of a river, can still be seen.
The cave town of Vardzia is one of the most important and impressive historic monuments in Georgia. At an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level, and starting 100 meters above the valley floor, the caves continue up for half a kilometre and had 13 floors, connected by a complex system of tunnels.
Vardzia was built by King George III in 1156-1184 and this incredibly town quickly grew to consist of over 3,000 caves that could accommodate 50,000 people at a time. The Vardzia complex had living quarters, refectories, barns, wine cellars (marani), stables, drugstores and even libraries. The town had a potable water supply and a sewerage system. A monastery still exists and practices in the caves today.
A cathedral back ti the 10th century still exists in the village and it is a fine and high-quality example of Georgian architecture. The inscriptions remaining on the walls tell us it was built during the reign of Abkhazian King Leon in 964.
Samtskhe-Javakheti Historical Museum
The Museum is located in the old castle, the Rabat. Here you will find and see rare and preserved archaeological and ethnographical materials, old manuscripts detailing the stories of the region including a fragment of the manuscript of the “The Knight in the Panther’s skin”, Georgia’s most famous poem, consisting of over 1600 verses and written in the 12th century.