After breakfast, drive to Mtskheta and visit Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Later, we’ll drive to Uplistsikhe for a visit and then continue onwards to Borjomi for dinner and overnight.
Overnight in Borjomi Likani Health & Spa Centre, Borjomi
Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner
Mtskheta is one of Georgia’s oldest cities, located roughly 20 km north of Tbilisi at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Within the city (which is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, one of Georgia’s largest places of worship. The site, surrounded by a defensive wall, has housed churches since the 4th century, but the standing building was constructed in the early 11th century and artfully restored in the 1970s. According to Biblical canon, Christ’s robe was carried to Mtskheka after his crucifixion and buried beneath the cathedral. Inside, a painting illustrates the buried garment and the miracle of a pillar rising into the air during the church’s construction.
Uplistsikhe (meaning 'Fortress of the Ruler') is a rock-hewn town that dates back to 1000 BC and covers an area of approximately 8 hectares. The town is divided over three levels that are connected by a series of narrow tunnels. Uplistsikhe used to be a main point on the Silk Road, but was abandoned in the 17th century.
The cross-shaped Jvari Monastery precipitously tops a mountain, peering over the city of Mtskheta and the three-pronged intersection of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers below. This UNESCO World Heritage site was built on the site where St. Nino erected a cross outside of a Pagan temple, symbolising Iberia’s shift to Christianity in the 4th century. The Small Church of Jvari was built to the north of the cross, 60 years before the Jvari Monastery was completed, and can still be identified as ruins. Relief sculptures survive on the sacred pilgrimage site’s exterior, and a giant wooden cross still adorns the small monastery today.
Georgian IDP Project - IDP stands for Internally Displaced People - and according to official Georgian sources, there are about 260,000 (90,000 families of) IDPs in Georgia, as a result of the conflicts in the 1990s and in 2008. IDPs are still considered a very vulnerable section of the Georgian population and although the government has said it aims to provide accommodation, health care and other essential needs, unfortunately this has not yet been achieved. The Council of Europe is also assisting financially through various projects supporting these people.
Founded in 1829, Borjomi is a resort town that was popularised when the Russian royal family built a summer residence here in 1895. Today, Likani Palace belongs to the Georgian president, and the town remains famous as the source of Georgia’s number one export - naturally carbonated mineral water. This water is exported to over 40 countries and is said to have medicinal and restorative properties. Borjomi is known for its picturesque location and setting within the protected Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, one of the largest national parks in Europe. The town of Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically-themed amusement park in the Caucasus.