The land of monasteries, wine and snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus. Georgia has developed at lightning speed following the fall of the Soviet Union. The capital Tbilisi has everything to become a tourist attraction. You will also find extensive beaches, wine regions, rock dwellings and castles. And the mighty peaks of the Caucasus are always visible.
A cave complex that is unparalleled. Vardzia is one of the best preserved buildings from the time of Queen Tamara. An earthquake in 1283 caused a large part of the outer walls to collapse. As a result, the houses are now visible from the outside. This was not the case before. It was a place of refuge in case of (war) threat.
The ancient city of Uplistsikhe has been inhabited since the Iron Age. From the first century BC they started carving out cave houses and around the 4th century Uplistsikhe was an important stop on the Silk Road from Azerbaijan to the Black Sea. There was a market, pharmacy, shops and animal shelters. In addition, there was drainage and fresh drinking water facilities. After the Muslim conquests in the 10th, the city fell into disrepair.
Tbilisi (თბილისი) is a city like a labyrinth. A city to wander into. A haze of past glory hangs around overgrown courtyards of seemingly collapsing buildings that stand next to futuristic glass structures. Persian bathhouses are popping up between Kafkaesque soviet blocks and a thousand and one churches and mosques.
Stepantsminda is the last town on the road from Tbilisi to Russia. It is in a unique location, at the foot of the mighty mountain Kazbegi (5.033m). Stepantsminda has been an important place for the defense of the Georgians since the Middle Ages. Now tourism seems to be heralding a renaissance. Guesthouses are expanded and activities are set up. Outwardly, the Gergeti Trinity Church is still the cultural highlight of Stepantsminda.
Mtshketa is the former capital of Georgia. It is located on a small piece of land between the rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi. When space became too limited here, the capital moved to neighboring Tbilisi. Mtshketa is known for the most difficult named cathedral in the world. The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Gudauri is the largest ski area in the Caucasus with 75 km of slopes. Especially since 2012, huge investments have been made to make Gudauri compete with European standards. Modern gondolas have been built, snow cannons have been installed and avalanche experts have been hired. With the construction of New Gudauri, development has entered a new phase. Modern New Gudauri is reminiscent of a French ski station. Just with modern gadgets.
The town of Gori is centrally located in Georgia, near the border with South Ossetia. During the last war with Russia (in 2008) the Dutch cameraman Stan Storimans died here. The city has risen from the ashes and tries to develop more emphaty as a tourist destination
The Japan of Georgia, Goderdzi has the most snowfall in the entire Caucasus. In addition, many deciduous trees grow here so it's ideal for tree skiing. We have been coming here for many years with incredible pleasure. We would like to buy a typical cabin in the mountains. To create a base for ski touring and cat skiing. Nice project for the future.
The Trinity Church of Gergeti is one of the main stops for tourists. From the town of Stepantsminda you can already see the mighty church. At an altitude of more than 2000 meters lies a unique piece of Georgian architecture. The church is inhabited all year round by monks who live in an adjacent complex. Gergeti is fantastic to visit at any time of the year. But in winter it is nice and quiet.
The coastal city of Batumi has grown enormously in recent years. Many foreign investments have been attracted with a government program. Large hotel chains such as Hilton, Sheraton and Wyndham have already settled there. With glittering skyscrapers, the Batumi skyline is constantly changing.
Georgia is an ancient country bursting with history. Domination came and went, but the culture of the Georgians has remained. At the crossroads of Europe and Asia, hidden between the higher and lesser Caucasus lies the land of the Kartvelians. Monasteries, fortresses, rock dwellings and ancient cities. But also skyscrapers, glass bridges, street art and modern gondolas. The contrast is undeniably great at times, but it makes Georgia unique. You will find almost everything in the field of everything. This sounds vague, but once you’ve been in the country you know what I mean.
Geography With Turkey and Russia as neighbors, Georgia has always known outside pressure. Due to its strategic location between the two Caucasian mountain ranges, it has a natural protection. Traders traveled the Silk Road from China to Europe. Traditionally, the country has an important transit function from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea, but also from the Middle East to Russia. The North Caucasus offers one of the most spectacular alpine landscapes in Europe. Peaks reach above 5000 meters. In Abkhazia (an apostate region seeking support from Russia) the mountains even extend into the Black Sea.
Climate The climate varies enormously from region to region. The further east, the drier it generally gets. Especially the mountains around the Black Sea receive a lot of rainfall. However, the temperature is also more moderate there. Inland it can get quite cold during the winter, but you cannot speak of a real continental climate there. The Caucasus Mountains keep out polar cold from Russia and the Lesser Caucasus prevents dry, hot desert air from advancing north. In addition, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea provide a unique effect on the climate. The mountains have a typical alpine climate and the snow certainly does not melt above 4500 meters.
People The Georgians are a unique people with typical European characteristics. Yet the writing, language and culture emerged independently. Bone remains of the oldest European man have been found, wine culture dates back more than 4,000 years, and Georgia was the first nation to introduce Christianity. Today 85% of the population is descended from Kartvelians (Georgians). Large minorities Azeri live in the country, they mostly adhere to Islam. You will also encounter the necessary descendants of Armenians and Russians. The political situation in the apostate region of Abkhazia remains complicated. All Georgian residents of this region have been deported and several wars have ensured that Russia has an increasing influence. The same is true to a lesser extent for the Tsinvali region, known to most as South Ossetia. The inhabitants who now live here are mainly Abkhazians and Ossetians.
Economy Trade has always played an important role in Georgia’s economy. Even before the time of the Silk Road, Georgia was a crossroads for merchants. Today, that trade has been modernized. New roads are being built and in 2018 a railway line was opened from Azerbaijan to Turkey (via Georgia). The pipeline also runs from the Caspian Sea via Georgia to Turkey. Apart from Russia, Georgia maintains good relations with its neighbors. Many neighbors have to go to the enemy via Georgian territory. For example, Turkey and Armenia keep their borders closed and Armenia and Azerbaijan do not want to have anything to do with each other. Strangely enough, Armenia is seeking a lot of support from Russia. Which does not improve relations with Georgia. It is sometimes a big soap opera in the Caucasus.
Today, agriculture and livestock are increasingly important for the country. The fertile soils provide a large harvest of fruit (wine), nuts and vegetables. The livestock also produces large quantities of milk and meat. Two important ingredients of Georgian cuisine.
Tourism In 1999, only 100,000 foreign tourists came to Georgia. In 2019, this number will pass 7 million. The facilities have improved enormously and the accessibility has improved in giant steps. Especially in the period of Saaskasvili, a huge number of foreign investors were attracted to boost tourism. Batumi was founded in 15 years, ski areas have been developed, historical centers have been renovated, monuments restored, highways built, castles rebuilt and new airports opened. It is almost impossible to keep up with what has happened in recent years. The country has so much to offer that it is not inconceivable that growth will continue unabated. Wizzair and Ryanair start connecting to Europe and it won’t be long before Tbilisi is the new Prague of Eastern Europe. Come as soon as you can if you want to experience the raw sides.