Author’s tour of Irakli Torondjadze
Irakli Torondjadze, PhD in history, a man in love with the history of his country will guide you along the routes of the Crusaders of King Baldwin in the ancient kingdom of the Colchis and Iberians.
Georgia is a fun, sun, amazing culture, a lot of attractions and affordable prices. It is known all over the world for hot southern hospitality, great wine, and unique cuisine. Holidays in Georgia are unforgettable thanking to its beautiful nature, the abundance of bright colors and clear sky, clean and warm water of the Black Sea and high-quality service of the European level. The long history of Georgia, glorified by poets, is reflected in the great architectural monuments. Its cities are like romantic ballads hardened ina stone.
In 1119 King Baldwin II of Jerusalem (1118-1131) visited Georgia and met with King David. The allies discussed final details of the upcoming campaign on how to lure the enemy to the pre-prepared position. Templar Knights began to arrive in Georgia and together with the Georgian brothers they played a decisive role in the battle, which took place on 12 August 1121. During our tour, you will be provided with more details about the battle and outcome of the war and the fate of 200 Templar Knights. It is dedicated to the history of the spiritual and military movement of Georgia, it’s pre-Christian mystical roots and relations with the other countries and orders. During the tour, you will visit places related to history and legends of ancient people, get acquainted with archeological artifacts and architectural monuments of the pre-masonic builder’s communities.
Day1 (May 12) – Meeting the group at Tbilisi airport, transfer to Kutaisi, and accommodation in the hotel. Breakfast at the hotel.
After lunch, city tour in the capital of Colchis King Aeetes, from where the Argonauts have stolen the Golden Fleece. Visits to Parliament of Georgia, restored Bagrati Cathedral, the residence of the Kings of Imereti “OkrosChardakhi” (Golden Hall). Visit to Gelati monastery, founded in 1106 by King David IV the Builder (Prester John?) who was then buried here. We will visit Motsameta monastery, built to perpetuate the memory of Prince David and Konstantin Mkheidze. They perished for the faith from the hands of the Arab conqueror Murvan the Deaf, nicknamed so for his ruthlessness (later-Murvan II, the last Arabic Caliph (744-750) from Umayyad dynasty, ruling from Damascus). We will see architectural monuments, the residence of the Georgian Kings- Geguti Palace (VIII-XIX centuries).
At the dinner in the restaurant accompanied by fiery Georgian dances and polyphonic singing you will get not only the gastronomic pleasure but will become the member of Georgian feast and Tamada will lead you into the fascinating world of Georgian traditions and culture.
Day2 (May 13) – Breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast in the hotel. Departure to canyon Okace – a popular tourist attraction: here and mountains and a canyon and a walk. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that here one can look at the canyon from the top down, and not from the bottom up, as it usually does. Along the cliffs in the gorge of the Okace River at an altitude of 140 m above the ground a hanging trail (bridges and balconies) is made. The length of the trail is 780 meters. Where else can you walk along the precipice at the height of a 50-story building?
After lunch, visit the Prometheus Cave – the largest cave in Georgia. A visit to the cave gives a unique opportunity to see the underworld in all its glory. You can choose a 1600 meter walking route through the grottoes of the cave and / or walk on a boat on a real underground river. The route passes by breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites, underground waterfalls, rivers and even a whole lake. A magical sensation is added to this by a system of multi-colored underground lighting based on liquid crystal lamps and constantly playing classical music in the cave, which makes the route even more attractive and memorable.
Day 3 (May 14) – Breakfast at the hotel. We will go to the historic province of Samtskhe, located in the southern Georgia. On the way, we will see at the beginning of the picturesque mountain pass Rikoti, which connects western and eastern Georgia, we will visit a medieval monastery in the village of Ubisi. The complex of Ubisi consists of the monastery of St. George IX century, 4-story tower (1141), fragments of the defensive wall of the 12th century and some other buildings and structures. On the territory of the monastery there is a unique cycle of frescoes of the late 14th century, made by the icon painter Damian.Next spot is Borjomi resort, famous for its mineral waters and pine forests, where you will be waiting for dinner.
The Rocky Mountains and Atskuri Castle is the sign that we are entering Meskheti. In Akhaltsikhe, the capital of the province we will visit the Citadel, where was located the residence of the rulers of this land of Jakeli princes. As they were enjoying the same rights as European Grand Duchies, they ruled here for nine centuries, three of them as Pashas of the Ottoman Empire. The controversial history of the region has been reflected in the architecture. We will visit the Orthodox Church with Catholic and even Muslim ritual elements (altar and qibla in the same space).
From Aklahtsikhe we will head upstream the Kura River, one of the major southern routes to Georgia. We will pass through KhertvisiFortress (according to legend the fortress was built prior the military campaign of Alexander the Great) and Tmogvi Fortress (X century). Both fortresses were built to control these ways. We will reach the unique complex of Vardzia (XII-XIII centuries) and will havethereadinner and spend the night away from the hustle and bustle of a modern city, in a society of Eastern Crusaders and a Knights of the Temple ghosts.
Day 4 (May 15) – After breakfast, tour to Vardzia. The ensemble of the monastery of Vardzia was created mainly in 1156-1205, in the reign of George III and his daughter Tamar Mepe. At that time, all the premises were hidden by a rock, only three underground passages connected them to the surface. Located on the south-western border of Georgia, the monastery-fortress covered the gorge of the Kura River and served as the logistics base of the Georgian army, which carried out intensive offensive operations in the southern direction during this period. In 1193-1195, during the war with the Seljuk Turks, Tamar Mepe was here with her court.
Continuing the acquaintance with the region, we will visit Saro, a small village in the Aspindza municipality of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Traces of numerous cyclopean megalithic structures on its territory indicate that once, in the past, this place played a very significant role in the cultural and political life of the region. Like most large megalithic structures, the Saro complex belongs to the Bronze Age of mankind and dates from about IV-III millennia BC. For what period did the fortress flourish and when its decline began, it is now impossible to pinpoint it, although the results of archaeological excavations indicate that intensive life lasted here until the middle of the feudal era.
After lunch on the way to Kutaisi we will visit the Green Monastery, the church of the 9th century, the times of the foundation of the monastery and the bell tower of the later period, was preserved here.
Dinner at the hotel in Kutaisi.
Day 5 (May 16) – After breakfast, there will be an opportunity to go to the resort of Tskhaltubo, known for its unique physico-chemical properties of thermal (33-35 degrees) radon mineral waters. In the spa park there are about 100 varieties of subtropical flora. At will you can take a mineral bath, enjoy a manual and / or hydromassage (in total, all 24 euros).
After lunch, say goodbye to Imereti and head to Tbilisi.We will visit Katskhi Monastery (1010-1014) located in the historical province of Argveti, which later has joined toImereti. It was built by the feudal family of Bagvashi. In Katskhi was laid to rest one of the most powerful and noted feudal Liparit IV (†1064). There is an opinion, that he was Grand Master of Georgian Knights Templar.
Further, the monastery of Mgvimevi – with the only cave temple in Georgia. It is not cut in the rock, it does not have a classic rectangular shape, but is placed directly in a shapeless cave and part of it is occupied by a stalagmite – just near the right side of the altar.
Dinner and overnight in Tbilisi.
Day 6 (May 17) – We will have a city tour in the old part of Tbilisi. In this district, there are located churches of different religions and faiths: Zoroastrian Ateshga, Muslim Mosque, Jewish Synagogue, Armenian Gregorian Church of SurbGevork, Catholic Cathedral of the Ascension of the Virgin Cathedral, Georgian Orthodox Sioni Cathedral belonging to Mtskheta-Tbilisi Archbishop. In the ancient district Abanotubani, where are located ancient baths in hot sulfur springs, you will learn the legend about the founding of the city. Go up by rope way to Narikala Citadel and monument of KartlisDeda, and enjoy views of the city and the natural landscape of the oldest botanical garden from the observation deck. Take a walk along the streets of the medieval town, that are fit well with modern Cafés. Visit the Anchiskhati Church – the oldest building (6th century) of the city and ultramodern Peace Bridge.
|1||airport – hotel||Tbilisi||250||4 hours|
|1||city tour||Kutaisi||10||30 minutes|
|2||excursion||canyon Okatse||50||1 hour 20 минут|
|2||lunch||Prometheus Cave||46||1 hours|
|3||excursion||Ubisa||62||1 hour 15 минут|
|3||lunch||Borjomi||75||1 hour 30 минут|
|3||excursion||Akhaltsikhe||55||1 hour 10 минут|
|3||dinner-night||Vardzia||65||1 hour 30 минут|
|4||excursion||Green Monastery||40||50 minutes|
|4||dinner-night||Kutaisi||140||2 hour 40 minutes|
|5||excursion||Katskhi||62||1 hour 20 minutes|
|6||hotel – airport||Tbilisi||20||30 minutes|