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Winter in Kakheti: Awesome Sightseeing

There are places in our country that you can visit all year round. Of course, every season has its own colours and peculiarities, that’s why it is so interesting to come to Georgia at different times of the year! Kakheti is one of the regions you must really visit several times: it is very beautiful there are many historical and natural sites, and of course, wine.

So, what can be seen in Kakheti in the winter? It depends on how much time you have. The best option to explore all Kakhetian attractions is to rent a car (with or without driver) and travel around the towns, villages and monasteries, managing your time yourself. We will recommend your some significant historical sites you should definitely visit.

1. Ikalto monastery complex, founded in the VI century. In the early Middle Ages the complex turned into an educational center, where the Georgian philosopher Arsen Ikaltoeli was working. The greatest Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli was studying there as well.
An interesting route that includes Ikalto can be found at our partner website TravelGIS.

2. The complex of Alaverdi (VI century) was founded by Assyrian Father Josef from Alaverdi who is buried in the Monastery. St. George Cathedral was built by Kakhetian King Kvirike in the XI century. It is 50 m high. The cathedral has retained remains of artwork of the XI and XV – XVI centuries. In the past Alaverdi underwent several restorations: The cathedral that was damaged in battles and wars was first restored in 1476-95; in the 17th century it was rebuilt by Persians; and finally in 1742 a strong earthquake destroyed the dome – the restoration was concluded by King Heraclius (Erekle) II in 1750.
A route, which includes a visit to Alaverdi, is available online at the page of TravelGIS.

3. Gremi monastery complex, located in Kvareli district, built by the XVI century. The historic complex consists of three parts: the Archangel Cathedral, the royal residence and the area where the merchants lived. In the XVII century Gremi was the capital of Kakheti. For many years it had booming cultural life, but as a result of internal strife and the invasion of Shah Abbas the town was destroyed. Subsequently, a part of the complex has been restored, but the real town of Gremi didn’t.

4. Batonistsikhe in Telavi. This fortress was the residence of the Kings of Kakheti in XVII-XVIII centuries. For the first time in 1667 the king Archil built a palace, a bath and a church on the site. The fortification and construction of some household premises were already built during the reign of Heraclius (Erekle) II, who transformed the castle into his residence.
Photo: GTM
Photo: GTM

5. Fortress Khornabuji used to serve as the center of another historical Kakhetian land of Kambechovani and has always had a great strategic importance. In the XIII century it was severely damaged by Mongol army commander Berqa Khan. By the beginning of the XVII century it was taken and garrisoned by Persians and was only liberated from invaders by Giorgi Saakadze in 1625.

6. Fortress Ujarma in Sagarejo. Its founder is considered to be the king Aspagur and in the V century King Vakhtang Gorgasali (founder of Tbilisi) declared the fortress city to his residence. This is a very interesting complex from an architectural point of view: in the wall there are 9 equidistant towers. According to historical sources, Gorgasali was wounded in the battle, brought to Ujarma, and then died there.
An interesting route that includes this fortress, you can find online at the page of TravelGIS.

7. Nekresi monastery complex, located in Kvareli district. It includes a small basilica of the IV century, a three church basilica of the VI century, a peculiarly planned domed church of the VIII-IX centuries, a palace of the same period, refectory, a tower of the XVI century, etc. There are interesting pieces of Georgian wall artwork of the medieval era.
Nekresi is the only Christian church where the parish can sacrifice pigs to God. As the tradition has it, during an invasion of Muslim Lezghins the villagers found refuge within the walls of the monastery. Knowing the disgust Muslims felt for pigs, they killed them and spread the skins around the convent. The invaders were unwilling to step on the pigskin and gave up the siege. Since then local Kakhetians sacrifice pigs to express their gratitude for the miraculous escape. Nowadays Nekresi is a functioning monastery.

8. Cathedral Bodbe, where St. Nino is buried. Beautiful area around the cathedral and the park will help you to switch to a calm and peaceful mode. Frescoes of Bodbe are fairly new, but beautiful and located that way, that you can see all main motifs from the New Testament. After Bodbe it is reasonable to go to Sighnaghi, where you can explore the fascinating exhibition of the Ethnographic Museum, rare paintings by Niko Pirosmani, enjoy the regional wines and marvelous view of mountains and Alazani Valley. Sighnaghi is charming anytime, even being snow-covered!

9. Vashlovani National Park is also good in winter. Before the arrival to one of the entrances to the park you have to register at the visitor center in Dedoplistskaro at Baratashvili str. 5. Please have your identity document with you. The registration process is short, and the trip to the park is totally worth it – there is a very interesting landscape! At some point, it is hard to believe that you are in Georgia – after all, the stereotypes about it doesn’t include canyons, caves and mud volcanoes, for example.
Inspire yourself for a visit, check out the Vashlovani route at the TravelGIS page.

10. If you are not afraid of wind (Kakheti in winter can be windy sometimes), and you like ancient monasteries, caves, beautiful stories and almost Martian landscapes, then head to David Gareji – a cave monastery on the border to Azerbaijan. You will be also surprised by seeing ancient rainwater collectors and solar panels on the roof of the restored church, and astonished by the frescoes in caves and epic views of Georgia on the one side and Azerbaijan on the other!