Mtskheta-Mtianeti is one of the most picturesque and divers areas in Georgia. Providing spectacular views, the landscape sweeps from the majestic 5,000 meter high snowy peaks of the Greater Caucasus and mountain passes, down to beautiful gorges, secluded likes and alpine valleys.
With numerous historical monuments scattered around this small picturesque settlement of just ten thousand inhabitants, its’s no wonder that Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia, deserves its title as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and the most important travel destination in Georgia.
The legendary Georgian Military Highway, one of the world’s most beautiful roads, winds its way up this region, through steep wooded valleys, up ravines and finally over the 2,300 meter Cross Pass and down again. The area not only takes in the amazing Kazbegi region, home to glaciers, gorges and the 5,047 meter Mount Kazbegi, but also the cultural treasure trove of Khevsureti and Georgia’s most developed skiing resort at Gudauri. Best of all, the whole province is just a short drive away from Tbilisi.
There’s plenty to do in the region, from absorbing the culture to creating your own exhilarating adventures. Whatever you’re searching for, there’s something for everyone in Mtskheta_Mtianeti.
Nowhere else in Georgia you can find such diverse cultural and architectural gems as in Mtskheta-Mtianeti. The best examples of this diversity can be seen in the ancient region of Armaziskhevi-Bagineti, the 10th century fortified village of Shatili, The Ananuri complex and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. On the base of the 4th century church a stone Basilica building was where built in the 5th century.
Mtskheta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been inhabited since before 1,000BC and was once the capital of the early kingdom of Iberia, (Today’s eastern Georgia). Just 20kg from today’s capital Tbilisi, and situated at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, the city is located on an ancient trade route. Archaeologists have unearthed the evidence of Mtskheta’s status as a major trading post. Glass perfume bottles, Greek and Aramaic writings pottery, metalwork and jewellery are all found in abundance beneath the ground here, and many examples are on show in the town’s fine Museum.
Located in Mtskheta, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral has been the burial site for Georgian kings and is built on the site where it is said that the robe of Jesus is buried. In 337 AD, when Georgia announced Christianity as its official religion, the first Chritian king Mirian was advised by St. Nino, to build a church here, over grave where Christ;s robe was buried.
Mtskheta Cross Monastery (Jvari)
Jvari is one of the masterpieces of Georgian architecture and is now listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. It was built on a hill near Mtskheta overlooking the estuary of two rivers, the Mtkvari and Aragvi. However the original structure was much smaller. After converting to Christianity, King Mirian erected a tall wooden crioss on the hill, which was venerated by various Christian nations. Later a smaller church was built beside the church and is now referred to as the small Cross.
One of the oldest pieces of Georgian architecture, Zedazeni Monastery is situated on the left bank of the Aragvi, North-East from Mtskheta. It was founded by Assyrian Father John around 540 AD. With the southern nave consisting of two parts, the Zedazeni Monastery has been repaired and restored many times, right up until 1971.
Shiomghvime Moanstery Complex, one of the most prominent religious and cultural centers in feudal Georgia is located in the Mtskheta district, on the left bank of the Mtkvari. According to historical sorces, the monastery was founded by Shio – a apostle of Assyrian Father John of Zedazeni in the 6th century. According to the tradition, father Shio spent his last years in a dark, deep grotto.
Kazbegi National Park is located on the northern slopes of the mighty Caucasus range and its protected area covers a total of over 8,700 hectares.
At 5,047 metres above sea level, Kazbegi mountain (or Mkinvartsveri) is third highest history. According to the Greek myth, as punishment for teaching mankind know to make fire, the Titan Prometheus was changes to a mountainside in the Caucasus for all eternity. According to Georgian stories, it was the icy slopes of Kazbegi to which he was changed.
The Darial Gorge is an almost impossibly steep sleft in the mountains connecting Russia and Georgia, running for 18km from Stepantsminda to the Russian border at Zemo Larsi. For millennia, this mountain passage has been strategically crucial, and has been fortified since at least 150BC. In places, the cliff faces are more than 1,000m high, and medieval watchtowers roads in the world. The steep valleys either side of the gorge are great places for bird watching. Eagles, hawks and the massive griffon vultures all nest among the rocky outcrops.
Gudauri, at iover 2,000 metres above sea level, is situated on the Georgian military road near the Cross Mountain Pass of the main Caucasus range, about 120km from Tbilisi. Even in mild winters, Gudauri offers reliable snow cover from November through April.
The total length of groomed ski runs are over 20km and are suitable for all skiers, from beginners to experts. Gudauri is well known for its winters activities and hosts and snowboard competitions and sports festivals every year. Gudauri is also a great summer destination, offering bird watching, trekking, horseback riding and rafting.
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