Shida Kartli is Georgia’s heartland, filled with hidden valleys and secret treasures. Spreading out across both sides of the Mtkvari Valley, Shida Kartli lies at the foothills of Greater Caucasus and the forested Trialeti Range, offering visitors a diverse range of cultural, educational and archeological tours, including walking tours to one of the main tourist attractions of the region.
The continental climate in Shida Kartli region is very distinct from the rest of Western Georgia. However the mountain peaks are covered with snow all year around. Shida Kartli region offers a diverse range of cultural sights.
This place offers many unforgettable opportunites. Magnificient gorges and trekking trails, connecting Shida Kartli to the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, are some of the best in Georgia. You can also also enjoy biking, trekking and walking trails at the Tedzami, Ateni (Tana) and dzama gorges. Nature treks, horse rides and bike tours you can take here. During winter you have an unique opportunity to climb a frozen waterfall.
The name Gori means hill in Georgian and it was mentioned in Georgian annals as early as the 7th century. Some historians believe that the fortress was built by Byzantine Caesar Heraclius to store ammunition when he fought against Persians.
It wasn’t until the 11th century that the area became an active centre for trade which is why some historians believe that David Agmashenebi founded the town. From its georgraphical location, enemies frequently targetes the fortress as conquering it meant controlling the whole Shida Kartli region. The fortress has been invaded many times and controlled by Ossetians, Iranians and Persians. The stronghold has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.
The Stalin Museum inculed the memorial house where Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) was born. Museum building with a tower and Stalin’s personal carriage he used to visit Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam. Where are many unique exhibits displayed there including Stalin’s personal belongings and collections of paintings, photos, films and other important historical works and items.
The Ateni Sioni domed church is an early 7th century monument. It stands on the bank of the river Tan on the hilltop, like the Jvari monastery. The walls of the church contain inscriptions using the early Georgian alphabet dating back to the 9th-11th centuries.
Kintvisi Monastery dedicated to St. Nicholas is a 12-13th century monuments about 10 kilomitres from the town of Kareli. The monastery is famous for its frescoes particularly the fresco of the Archangel from the resurrection composition.
Uplistsikhe is one of the most significant tourist attraction in Shida Kartli is an ancient cave town, dating back to the 1st millennium BC. It’s where the foreman of Shida Kartli lived which is how the town got its name which means “ the Lord’s fortress”. In 4th-3rd centuries BC the settlement grew into an important strategic town with two parts: the “inner” town located in the caves which where used as shelter during invasions and the “outer” town where settlements where located around the caves. At the summit of the complex is a Christian basilica and there are many caves of different sizes and types to explore. There are also fragments of roads carved in stone, ditches and secret tunnels.
The Skhvilo Complex is located on the high mountain slopes of the Kaspi borough. It was first mentioned in 10th century annals and the complex includes: a wall, main tower, church and residential and operational buildings with their own water reservoir. The church has been invaded many times and it was significantly damaged in the 17th century.
The Tsromi Cathedral is located in the Khashuri borough in a village called Tsromi. Tsromi used to be one of the main cathedrals in 4th century. The present church was built in 626-634 but has been destroyed and restored several times. The cathedral was also severely damaged by the earthquake in 1940.
The Khtsisi – St. John the Baptist Cathedral is located in the Khashuri borough, deep in the forest. Chuch was built in 1002 and is still a functioning monastery today.
The mountain resort of Surami located on the southern slopes of the Likhi range. Which has been operating since 1928. Besaides its healthy climate Surami also has natural mineral springs which can help to treat patients suffering from respiratory diseases.
The Surami Fortress overlooks the town of Surami. The exact date of construction is not known, though the town itself has existed since the 12th century. During his fight against Iran, George Saakadze defended the stronghold. Later the castle was conquered by the Osmans and during the 18th century it was held by Georgian and Russian soldiers. Besides the castle there are 9 Christian churches and one synagogue in the area.
The Rkoni monastery complex is located in Kaspi district near the town of Rkoni. The complex is divided into several layers: the church of the Virgin Mary – dating back to the 7th century. The gate of complex – dating from the 13th century and a chapel, a church of John the Bapitist and a bell tower dating from the 17th -18th centuries. The Rkoni fortress is situated near the church and was used as a residence for Georgian feudal lords. Near the Rkoni monastery there is a bridge (King tamara Bridge) over the river Tedzami and crossing this an climbing the hill brings you to another small church and cave carved in the rocks that was once used by monks.
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