The lands south of Tbilisi were inhabited by Homo georgicus, the forerunner of the first European civilizations.
The fertile Valley of Alazani, in the Region of Kakheti, is renowned because of the excellence of its grapes and because it is the source of outstanding wines such as Khindzmarauli and Gurdjani. But this area, with a mild and pleasant climate, is not only known for its fantastic wine production.
Every day, a basic culinary work of art, known as “shoti”, is made in rural homes: long loaves of rustic bread baked in the traditional style.
The women also make interesting desserts such as “churchkhela”, sausage-shaped sweets made with thickened white grape juice and filled with walnuts, which are then strung up and hung out to dry.
Much of what is made or grown in the villages is sold in small markets, which are full of the colour and freshness of agricultural products.
Sighnaghi is one of the smallest towns in the country, but it has the second longest wall in the world, after China. Urban regeneration and its popularity within the whole Region of Kakheti have made it a delightful place to visit. This town, known as “the city of love”, is also celebrated for its renowned grape harvest. Once again, dancing confirms that one of the defining characteristics of the Georgian people is to have a good time and enjoy life to the full.
To uncover the first steps of human beings, we must go back to Prehistory. The lands south of Tbilisi were inhabited by Homo georgicus, the forerunner of the first European civilizations, as proven by the remains of bones found in this unique archaeological site of worldwide importance.
The city of Uplistsikhe was founded 1,600 years before Christ and although the Mongols destroyed a large portion of the original 700 caves, there are still some 270 left today that were inhabited by local tribes and monks until the latter part of the XVIII century.
The Jvari Monastery is perched on top of the hill on which Saint Nino erected a wooden cross that symbolized the triumph of Christianity in Georgia.
Besides the font in which it is said that Mirian III was baptized, the king who in the year 337 established Christianity as the official religion of Georgia, there is a symbolic replica of the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which makes Svetitskhoveli the second most sacred place in the world. This Cathedral, a World Heritage Site, also houses the tomb of Vakhtang I Gorgasali, that of the last Georgian king, Giorgi XII and of his father Erekle II, the latter one decorated with a coat of arms and a sabre; an interesting zodiacal sphere surrounding the figure of the Redeemer; XIII-century frescoes; and Saint Sidonia’s funerary monument.