Stepantsminda (სტეფანწმინდა) is a sleepy village on the Georgian Military Highway, the trade route between Georgia and Russia that links Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz. Great base for hikes or ski tours.
Georgian Military Highway
The Military Highway is a real pleasure for the road trip lover. A beautifully winding route that takes you from the capital along the river and through the green valleys, through the mountains of the Greater Caucasus to the border with Russia. Think razor-sharp hairpins, old ladas, fully loaded trucks, a couple of cows, and 360 ° views. The road is open all year round.
Stepantsminda or Kazbek
Until 2006 the village was called Kazbegi (ყაზბეგი), to the mighty mountain Kazbek that rules the valley. The Georgians call this mountain the Mkinvari, which means “Mountain of Ice”. The slopes of this five-thousanders are reasonably accessible, allowing you to take beautiful walks in the summer and unique descents in the winter.
Since the summer of 2018, alpinists, mountain hikers and tour skiers can visit the Altihut , a new mountain hut at an altitude of 3014m where you can spend the night in both summer and winter. Even higher, at 3675m, you will find Betlemi, a church where, according to legend, the Georgian state treasure was hidden during raids. Another legend tells that Amirani, a Georgian Prometheus, was chained here by the gods as punishment for stealing the fire from heaven.
To impress at family parties, dates or Friday afternoon drinks.
Long ago, Stepantsminda was named after the Georgian Orthodox monk Stephan, who built the Betlemi Church. When Georgia fell to the Soviet Union, the area supervisor, Kasibeg Chopikashvili, found it more relevant to name the town after himself. No sooner said than done. The man himself left little else behind, except for a son who would later become one of Georgia’s most important writers: Aleksander Kazbegi.