Georgia is full of surprises: you can find better wine than France, higher mountains than Switzerland and, it turns out, older monasteries than those found on the rock pillars of Greece.
The Katskhi pillar, Georgia’s Meteora is found not far from Chiatura, but seems a world away from the town’s mining history and rusty cable cars. It’s setting — amid an other-worldy landscape of cliffs and forest — is stunning. The pillar rises 40 meters from the hills, and has understandably captivated Georgians for centuries: it was originally a pagan holy place, likely used for fertility rights, before the arrival of Christianity. And in Georgia, Christianity arrived a long time ago.
Chiatura’s ancient cable cars are one of the most interesting sites in the Caucusus.
If you like cable cars, you’ll love the Caucasus. Treat yourself to a trip on modern tramways which take you up to Narikala Fortress in Tbilisi, rise up from Batumi’s harbour, and cross the magnificent valleys leading you to Tatev monastery in Armenia. However, if you want an authentic experience, hop onto Chiatura’s ancient cable cars, which have been running twenty-four hours a day for more than half a century.
The Georgian Military Highway is the fastest route from Tbilisi to Russia, but there are plenty reasons to drive it even if you don’t want to leave Georgia!
A rare traffic jam… (Photo by Doron)
The Georgian Military Highway is the fastest route from Tbilisi to Russia, but it’s no ordinary motorway. It can be a challenging drive (thanks to snow, or sheep…) but also a very worthwhile one. You’ll pass varied scenery, from remote villages to jaw-dropping valleys. For many the eventual destination is the mysterious mountain church of Stepantsminda. Some may only reach the historic town of Mtskheta, and its scenic Jvari monastery, only 12 miles North of Tbilisi. Along the way there are monasteries, monuments, and a lot of impressive nature. Here are some stops along the Georgian Military Highway that you need to know…
Stepantsminda’s mysterious mountain church is an essential sight on any visit to Georgia.
Georgia has more than its share of remote villages, impressive mountains, and beautiful churches, but when all three are combined in one place it’s still something special: Stepantsminda is just that. Found in the North of Georgia, on the military highway from Tbilisi to Vladikavaz, Stepantsminda (often known as Kazbegi) is only 10km from the Russian border. Accessible (when there isn’t too much snow) as a day trip from Tbilisi, the village and its mysterious mountain church are one of the most popular sights in Georgia. Here’s what you need to know!
Ever gazed at an Armenian-language road sign and gave three silent cheers for GPS? Or wondered how something so utterly either un-ciryllic or non-latin-like could have materialized in this nook of the world, as if by magic? If so, wonder no more, but fold yourself into your favourite shape and absorb the story of the wiggy whirls whose gigantic stone likenesses adorn the Western slope of Mount Aragats.