Georgia (Kutaisi, Tbilisi, Kakheti) Tour Itinerary (8 Days)
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Arrival at Kutaisi
Transfer from airport to the hotel and check in
Lecture in the hotel conference room
Kutaisi City is located in the Rioni River valley. In the beginning of the 20th century, this place was a small quiet provincial town. With the Soviet influence Kutaisi became a huge industrial center. Today it is the second most important city in Georgia.
Sightseeing in Kutaisi includes:
Gelati, a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi, in the Imereti region of Western Georgia. A masterpiece of the Georgian Golden Age, Gelati was founded in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Bagrati Cathedral the 11th-century cathedral in the city of Kutaisi. Regarded as a great example of medieval architecture, the cathedral suffered heavy damage throughout centuries and was reconstructed to its present state through a gradual restoration process which started in the 1950s, with major conservation works concluding in 2012.
Okros Chardakhi (Golden Marquee), the only surviving structure of the 17th-18th Century Palace of the Imereti kings.
After lunch, continue sightseeing in Kutaisi.
Return to the hotel
Welcome dinner in Kutaisi in a traditional Georgian restaurant
Morning transfer to Gori
Coffee break at a restaurant on the way to Gori – at own expense.
Arrival at Gori, visit to the Joseph Stalin Museum, a historical museum in Georgia devoted to the life of the most famous native of the city, who became the head of the Soviet government and led the Soviet Union from 1925 to 1953. Opened in 1937
Lunch - Visit to a family wine cellar in Gori, tasting of Georgian wine and Chacha, with Georgian traditional dishes.
16:00 - 17:00 Visit to Uplistsikhe (God's Fortress) Uplistsikhe is an ancient cave city, one of the first cities on the territory of Georgia. Uplistsikhe is carved in a rock located 12 km east of the town of Gori on the left bank of the Kura River.
Arrive at the Chateau Mukhrani (wine tasing, tour and dinner). The construction of the castle started in 1873 by Ivane Mukhranbaton. The castle was designed by French architects and it took 12 years to complete the project. The surrounding gardens were designed by a Versailles gardener. Both castle and grounds captured visitors’ attention. The huge venue was a cultural centre for the Georgian elite. Ivane Mukhranbatoni hosted many guests including famous Georgian public figures, great writers and poets such as Ilia Chavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli, along with the Russian Emperor of that time. The castle was famous for its Italian gilded furniture and the first European parquet in Georgia.
In those days the castle contained a winery. Underground cellars comprised 20 compartments. The main tunnel connected the winery and the castle. To compliment the modern winery the chateau cellar was restored to its original historical design. Today the cellar stores 60,000 barrels of wine at a constant fifteen degrees Celsius temperature. Dinner in the best Georgian traditions is included.
Arrival at Tbilisi (Check in to hotel)
Lecture in the hotel conference room
Morning walking tour, to include:
The Sioni Cathedral of the Dormition a Georgian Orthodox Cathedral in Tbilisi. Following a medieval Georgian tradition of naming churches after particular places in the Holy Land, the Sioni Cathedral bears the name of Mount Zion in Jerusalem. It is commonly known as the "Tbilisi Sioni" to distinguish it from several other churches across Georgia bearing the name Sioni.
The Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary. According to the old Georgian annals, the church was built by the King Dachi of Iberia (circa 522-534) who had made Tbilisi his capital. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed Anchiskhati (i.e., icon of Ancha) in 1675 when the treasured icon of the Savior created by the twelfth-century goldsmith Beka Opizari at the Ancha monastery in Klarjeti ( now part of Northeastern Turkey) was moved to Tbilisi so preserve it from the Ottoman invasion. The icon was preserved at the Basilica of St Mary for centuries (it is now on display at the Art Museum of Georgia).
The Narikala, an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi and the Mtkvari River. The fortress was established in the 4th century. Most of the extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished.
After lunch, pay a visit to the Georgian National Gallery, established in 1920. Dimitri Shevardnadze, a well-known Georgian painter, contributed significantly to the development of the gallery. Since its foundation, the gallery has served the development of Georgian fine arts.
Also visit the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography, an open-air museum in Tbilisi, displaying the examples of folk architecture and craftwork from various regions of the country. The museum is named after Giorgi Chitaia, the Georgian ethnographer, who founded the museum on April 27, 1966. Since December 30, 2004, it has been administered as part of the Georgian National Museum.
Dinner - traditional Georgian feast with Georgian toastmaster and traditional folk show, Georgian dancing and choir singing.
Morning transfer from hotel to Mtskheta
Stop at Jvari Monastery. At the top of the mountain above the ancient capital Mtskheta, city of the Iberia Kingdom, where Kura and Aragvi rivers merge, towers the monastery of Jvari - the first monument of Georgia, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the best masterpieces of medieval Georgian architecture.
Arrival at Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. The city was founded in the second half of the first millennium and is one of the most visited places in Georgia. Due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments, Mtskheta was stated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia and one of the most vibrant religious centers, Mtskheta was declared as the "Holy City".
Visit the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral the main historic cathedral of the whole Georgia. Many legends are connected with this cathedral, but they all tell the same story saying that Svetitskhoveli was built on the site where the shirt that Jesus wore during the crucifixion was buried. The Cathedral got its name - "Svetitskhoveli" from Georgian - "Life-giving pillar".
Return to Tbilisi
Upon arrival, vist the Georgian National Museum, which was established at the end of 2004 which preserves the nation's rich, authentic content of cultural heritage. The Museum mission is to expand and sustain access to national treasures, both material and living, for current and future generations.
Continue to the Armenian District and the The Holy Trinity Cathedral (Sameba). Sameba is the residence of the Archbishop of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the third tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and one of the largest religious buildings in the world by its total area. This structure is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and some Byzantine undertones.
Drive to Kakheti
Stop on the way in a small Georgian village, Badiauri - tasting of freshly baked bread and traditional cheese.
Arrive at the Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe, which was constructed in 4th Century on the tomb of St. Nino, who introduced Christianity in Georgia. The Georgian king Demetre I played an important role in decoration of the monastery. Bodbe monastery was renovated many times by the Georgian kings. In the end of 1990s a tub for ritual bathes and a small church were built around the spring of water which emerged through the prayers of St. Nino. The church was named after her parents – St. Zabulon and St. Sosana.
Lunch in Sighnaghi
Sighnaghi (City of Love), is a small town in the east of Georgia situated on the mountainside in the historical region of Kakheti. It was founded in the 17th Century during the reign of King Heraclius II of Georgia, and as locals say, it is the only city in Georgia that has fully preserved its fortress walls that are crowned with watchtowers, where one can climb to get the magnificent view of the Alazan valley.
Sightseeing in Signagi includes a visit to the Signagi Museum that was established in 2007. It is the first high standard museum in Georgia. The Museum exhibits archeology, ethnography and medieval expositions. The Signagi Museum features diverse ethnographic material: musical instruments, weapons, vestments and items reflecting the lifestyle of this town. Medieval expositions include samples of the 4th-18th cc. Displayed are 16 paintings by Niko Pirosmanashvili.
Sightseeing is followed by wine tasting and light early dinner at the Morani Cradle of Wine vineyard
Drive to the Kvareli Lake Hotel and check in
Morning transfer to Telavi
Sightseeing in Telavi includes:
Batonis Tsikhe (Master’s Fortress) - residence of Kakheti with the area of 3 ha - located in downtown Telavi. Its territory embraces: the fence (constructed under the king of Kakheti Erekle II in 1753), Royal Palace (constructed in the 60s of 17th century by king Archil; in 1865, women’s college of St. Nino opened in this building and the Palace was remade into a three-level building; today - Telavi museum), bath (in southern part bathing room and boiler are preserved; walls of the bath were painted), and two churches (Small Church and Church of the Court of Erekle II, built in 1758, the latter being simultaneously a defense facility – it has gun emplacements). To the south-west from the citadel, in tens of meters there is a big abutment (diameter – 14m). Up to the 40s of the 19th century a big 7.5m long cannon stood on it.
The Ikalto monastery, founded by Saint Zenon, one of the 13 Syrian Fathers, in the late 6th Century. It was known as one of the most significant cultural-scholastic centres of Georgia. An academy was founded at the monastery during king David the Builder by Arsen Ikaltoeli (Ikaltoeli meaning from Ikalto) in the early 12th century. According to a legend the famous 12th century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli studied there.
After lunch, visit the Alaverdi Monastery a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present-day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George. The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph (Yoseb, Amba) Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, which was a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. At a height of over 55 meters, Alaverdi Cathedral was the tallest religious building in Georgia, until the construction of the Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi in 2004.
Return to Tbilisi by the Gombori road
Check in to hotel
Farewell dinner in a restaurant
Transfer to the airport