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Shida Kartli

Churches & cathedrals

Our most recommended Shida Kartli Churches & Cathedrals

Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Jvari, Gori and Uplistsikhe Day Tour

1. Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Jvari, Gori and Uplistsikhe Day Tour

Explore one of the most mysterious regions of Georgia – Kartli and hear a lot about the country's history. First, visit memorable Uplistsikhe cave-town and dive into the antique life of Georgia. Then, find out more interesting facts in Gori, the hometown of the most famous Georgian, Stalin, and see the unique old capital of Georgia – Mtskheta, where you visit two UNESCO heritage sites Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Your first stop is Uplistsikhe, an antique rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia. It contains multiple structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages. It is notable for the unique mixture of various rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran's pagan and Christian architecture coexistence. After exploring Uplistsikhe, you have a chance to have lunch in the region and try delicious local food. After lunch, you have two options, have free time and explore Gori, the hometown of Stalin, or visit Stalin Museum, which is a museum dedicated to the life of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union, who was born in Gori. The Museum retains its Soviet-era characteristics, Stalin's Original house, and Stalin's railway carriage. The next stop is Jvari Monastery. The name of this monastery is translated as the "Monastery of the Cross." Jvari Monastery is the 6th-century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Jvari Monastery stands on the rocky mountain top at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta, which was formerly the capital of the kingdom of Iberia. The last site on tour is Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta. UNESCO recognizes Mtskheta as a World Heritage site due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments. It was the capital of the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. Svetitskhoveli is known as the burial site of Christ's robe and has been one of the principal Georgian Orthodox churches and is among the region's most venerated places of worship.

Tbilisi: Cave Town, Gori, Mtskheta Private Tour

2. Tbilisi: Cave Town, Gori, Mtskheta Private Tour

Explore one of the most mysterious regions of Georgia. Visit the cave town of Uplistsikhe, Stalin's hometown of Gori, and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Mtskheta. Start at the cave town of Uplistsikhe, an antique rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia. View its unique mixture of cut-out cultures from Anatolia and Iran's pagan and Christian architecture, then pause to purchase a local lunch. Next, visit, Gori, the hometown of Stalin. Explore the town or visit the Stalin Museum, including the dictator's old house and railway carriage. Follow that with a trip to Jvari Monastery. Admire this 6th-century Orthodox structure which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy the view from the rocky mountain top down onto the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. Conclude your tour at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia, another World Heritage Site. Spend some time at a location known as the burial site of Christ's robe, which is among the region's most venerated places of worship.

Tbilisi: Guided Mtskheta, Gori, and Uplistsikhe Tour

3. Tbilisi: Guided Mtskheta, Gori, and Uplistsikhe Tour

Your tour will begin in the morning as you are picked up from your hotel, after which you will begin with a drive through the fertile lands of the Kartli region. Your first stop is the 6th-century Jvari Monastery, which is located 19 kilometers away from Tbilisi. Here you will receive an introductory story of the area, whilst enjoying the wonderful panorama of the conjunction of the two rivers Aragvi and Mtkvari, the Armazi Mountains, and the city of Mtskheta. You will then drive 88 kilometers west of Tbilisi to Gori, a city in the Kartli province. Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages, and at the foot of a sand-stone hill stands the Medieval Gori Fortress Tskhra-kara. You will do a short walk around the area, before then continuing to the Stalin Museum. Excursions in Joseph Stalin's museum will take about 30 minutes, with the museum consisting of 3 sites. Following your museum tour, you will drive to the ancient temple town of Uplistsikhe. Translated as the “Fortress of the Lord“ and dating back to the 6th century B.C., this town is mentioned in the "Chronicles of the 1st Century A.D". Here the echoing halls, long meandering corridor-streets, chambers of pagan worship, and even the remains of the oldest theater in Georgia are all carved into the rocky plateau and waiting to be explored. You will then drive back to Tbilisi passing through the ancient capital Mtskheta, which presents a living museum including the UNESCO Heritage Listed Site of the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, as well as other architectural landmarks. You can take a walk through the historical part of town, and enjoy a relaxing evening tasting local sweets at the souvenir shopping rows.

Georgia: Day-Trip to Mtskheta, Stalin Museum & Uplistsikhe

4. Georgia: Day-Trip to Mtskheta, Stalin Museum & Uplistsikhe

Start your tour at your accomodation in Tbilisi where your driver/guide will be waiting to meet you. After a short meet and greet you will set-off to your first location, starting your sightseeing adventure for the day! After a short and scenic drive your first stop will be Jvari Church (6th -7th cc), the most important religious center and an architectural masterpiece of medieval Georgia. Enjoy the breathtaking view from the church that towers over the city of Mtskheta. Continue on to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, known as the burial site of Christ's robe and the second largest church building in the country. The Cathedral has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day. Take an excursion to Uplistsikhe Cave Town, an ancient cave town and one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. The town represents a complex of various structures dating from the 12th-century. BC to the 17th-century. AD. Finish your tour at the Stalin Museum in Gori, dedicated to the life of Joseph Stalin. This museum is the perfect location for any Stalin or politic enthusiasts. End your day in comfort with a relaxing car ride back to your accomodation in Tbilisi. 

Mtskheta, Gori, and Upliscikhe Private Tour

5. Mtskheta, Gori, and Upliscikhe Private Tour

Escape the crowds and visit the oldest city of Georgia, Mtskheta, which used to be the capital in the early Georgian Kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd-century BC to the 5th-century BC. Enjoy panoramic aerial views of the mountains around the Jvari Monastery, which was Georgian Orthodox in the 6th-century. The name translates as the Monastery of the Cross. It represents the peak of architectural typology as a true masterpiece of the early Medi period. It overlooks the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers from the top of the hill.  Journey back to the early centuries at the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Samtavro Church. Svetitskhoveli Cathedral was built in the 11th-century but the site itself is even older, dating back to the early 4th-century. It differs in artistic value and the special role that it has played in history. The monument has an elongated cross which appears to touch the sky. It was the main pilgrimage place on the Silk Road, the burial place of the Christ"s Robe, and the tomb of Georgian Kings. The cathedral is the second largest church building in Georgia and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Samtavro monastery complex was built in the 11th-century. It contains the graves of queen Nana and Mirian III King of Iberia, who established Christianity as an official religion in Georgia. The famous Georgian monk Gabrieli is also buried inside the Samtavro church. Complete your tour of Mtskheta with a Georgian wine degustation. In Gori-Uplistsikhe, visit several sites from different periods of Georgian history, including Uplistsikhe cave town, Joseph Stalin’s home museum, and Gori fortress. Uplistsikhe, translated to Fortress of the Lord, is a cave town fortress situated on a rocky massif on the bank of the river Mtkvari. Dating back to the first and second millennium BC, Uplistsikhe was an important religious, political, and cultural center in the Hellenistic and the late Antique periods. Take a walk among the ancient streets, rock-carved theatre, royal halls, pharmacy, pagan temples, and Christian churches, while the remains of granaries and large clay wine vessels give clues as to the daily life of the inhabitants.  Continue to the Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori. Stalin was originally Georgian and the secretary general of the Communist Party during the second world war. He is one of the most influential dictators of modern times. The museum features Stalin’s home, a hut where he was born, his armour plated railway carriage, and a statue that controversially stood in the main square of Gori until 2010. In addition, see many items owned by Stalin, including some of his office furniture, his personal belongings, and gifts given to him over the years. Gori Fortress is a medi citadel in Georgia. It stands above the city of Gori on a rocky hill. Archaeological evidence shows that the area was already inhabited in the final centuries BC. The fortress controlled major strategic and economic routes and accommodated a large garrison.

From Tbilisi: Full-Day Snowshoeing Tour to Kazbegi

6. From Tbilisi: Full-Day Snowshoeing Tour to Kazbegi

Start the tour early in the morning with a pick-up from your hotel in Tbilisi. Head to the north of Tbilisi through the Georgian Military Road. The road runs between Tbilisi (Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (Russia) and follows the traditional route used by traders and invaders throughout the ages. On the way to Mt. Kazbegi, enjoy views of Ananuri Fortress arising above Jinvali Lake and surrounding the mountain area. Farther on, the road continues to the Gudauri Skiing Resort located 120 kilometers north from Tbilisi at a height of 2,196 meters (about 7,200 feet). It is a young and rapidly developing winter resort located on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range. Here, one can reach the summit of Mount Sadzele taking an aerial lift at an altitude of 3000 meters. In just a few minutes drive, one can reach Cross Pass, the highest point of the Georgian Military Road (about 2400 meters). From Cross Pass with the Serpentine Road, arrive down to the small village of Stapantsminda at the foot of Mt. Kazbegi from where you will start the snowshoeing tour to the awesome Gergeti Trinity Church. Walking up to the church takes 1 to 2-hours of winter hiking through the snowy forest up to the hills. The difference of altitude from Stepantsminda to Gergeti Trinity Church is 400 meters. Reaching the main highlight of the day, Gergeti Trinity Church (2170 meters) overlooks the area proudly as a steady symbol of Georgia. Enjoy the stunning views in a fabulous atmosphere. Due to your wish and possibility, it's available to prolong your trip after covering the main area and examine your opportunities  beyond. By the church as an award, you will have a warm coffee with a light snack and hot drinks overlooking the Tergi River gorge and village Gergeti covered with deep snow. After the trip, you will be driven you back to Tbilisi. On the way back, due to your wish, have a short stop at Ananuri Fortress. (16th to 17th century).

From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

7. From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

1 Day: Tbilisi-Paravani Lake - Vardzia - Rabat Fortress - Borjomi (Driving distance 250 kilometers) Begin the tour from Tbilisi and have a stop at Paravani Lake (2.073 meters). Get pleasure from delightful views at Paravani, the largest and deepest lake in Georgia. Next stop will be Vardzia, grandiose cave city, one of the favorite destinations of Queen Tamar. Here, not far from the border with Turkey, see all the splendor of this tiered cave city where there are hundreds of dwellings, transitions, ladders, churches, library, dining, warehouses, workshops and where urban residents had running water and entertainment. Fifty thousand persons were able to live in this cave city. Continue your way towards Rabat fortress in Akhaltsikhe. The complex of the 9th-century was developed under the influence of different cultures over subsequent centuries and this is reflected in its architecture such as rare examples of traditional Georgian houses from the 13th-century, a mosque from 1752 and the ruins of a medrese (Islamic school). The Rabati also has a synagogue, an Armenian church and a Catholic church. Rabat was reconstructed in 2012. At the end of the day, arrive and overnight in Borjomi in either a family type guesthouse or 3-star hotel. 2 Day:  Borjomi - Gori - Uplistsikhe - Mtskheta - Tbilisi (Driving distance 250 kilometers) Tour starts from Borjomi - a spa resort famous with mineral water springs. This place is known far beyond the borders of Georgia. Go on a 1-hour walk in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, located in central Georgia and creates an eastern border with the lesser Caucasus Mountains. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the oldest and largest of the protected areas in Georgia and became a member of the European network of protected areas. In the beginning of the 20th-century, the Russian Tsar Nikolai II built in the park his summer residence. On the way to Uplistsikhe, you will visit Joseph Stalin Museum. There is also a small house where one of the cruelest world tyrants of 20th-century was born and raised. Everything is still kept. After Gori, your next stop will be Uplistsikhe - an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the early Iron Age to the late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture. At the summit of the complex is a Christian basilica built of stone and brick in the 9th to 10th-centuries. Uplistsikhe cave city is the oldest populated place in Georgia. On the way back to Tbilisi, visit Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia. Some monuments of the city are UNESCO World Heritage Site listed. In Mtskheta, visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built in the 11th century, the main church of Mtskheta is a sacred place where the robe of Christ is being kept. Visit Jvari Monastery (6th to 7th-century), located on top of a hill above Mtskheta. The monument for its architectural and historical importance is included into the UNESCO list. Located at the precipice of a vertical cliff, Jvari Monastery is a remarkable sacred landmark visible from the ancient city Mtskheta. The building techniques and high standards of engineering, as well as the diverse decorative program of the landscaped monastery exemplify exceptional centuries - old Georgian building practices alongside a wide range of Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. The church represents the peak of this architectural typology and serves as a model for numerous other churches. Jvari has been an important pilgrimage site since its founding and is considered one of the most sacred places in all of Caucasus.

From Tbilisi: Guided Group Tour Jvari, Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe

8. From Tbilisi: Guided Group Tour Jvari, Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe

Your tour starts at 10:00 AM in Liberty Square in Tbilisi upon meeting your friendly local guide. After a short meet-and-greet, set-off on a scenic drive to the Jvari Monastery as your guide entertains you with fascinating information about this country and the itinerary ahead.  You will eventually arrive at the first destination of the day, the Jvari Monastery. This monastery stands on top of a large hill, overlooking the confluence of two rivers. Guests will get to enjoy breathtaking views of the two rivers and the stunning landscape. Whilst here, you'll also get to visit an old church and take a look around. Continue on your tour to Mtskheta, the city museum listed as a UNESCO heritage site. In the city, your guide will take you to visit the grandiose cathedral of Svetsitskhoveli, known as the 'life giving pillar', it is said according to legend that this is where Christ's robe was buried. Be fascinated by the history of the church and learn of kings who were buried in the cathedral.  The last stop on your tour is the famous Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave dating back to the 8th to 10th century BC. You'll receive 1.5 hours to explore the cave and be in awe of its perseverance. After your visit to the cave, you'll head back to Tbilisi after a full day of adventure.

From Tbilisi: Uplistsikhe Caves and Mtskheta Town Day tour

9. From Tbilisi: Uplistsikhe Caves and Mtskheta Town Day tour

Visit the sights that reflect the historical significance of the Kartli region on a guided tour with included tickets to Uplistsikhe. The region was the crossroads of the Old Silk Road and the birthplace of the spread of Christianity in Georgia. Embark on a journey through the Kartli region from the period of the Kingdom of Iberia to present day. The first place you'll visit is Jvari Monastery, built on a high hill near Mtskheta in the sixth century. Jvari is one of the rare sights preserved in Georgia with its important religious purpose and architectural solidity. The monastery is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. From this place is an unobstructed view above the city of Mtskheta. The next stop is for a walking tour in Mtskheta. Visit another World Heritage Site listed by UNESCO: the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. Through the centuries it represented the religious center of Christian Georgia. In the cathedral is buried the Robe of Jesus Christ. The next city to visit is Gori, where you'll see a medieval citadel of the city. If you wish, you can visit the museum of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union (entry fees not included). After lunch, travel even further in history to explore the Uplistsikhe cave town. The city was carved out of rock and is one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus. There are archaeological monuments kept around Uplistsikhe, of which the oldest one belongs to the Early Bronze Age and Mtkvar-Araksi culture. The whole complex of caves served a variety of household purposes: residence, cellar, storehouse, chapel, prison, etc. It is impossible to correctly describe in words what the ancient people created at the cost of labor.

Uplistsikhe: Ancient Cave Settlement & UNESCO Heritage Tour

10. Uplistsikhe: Ancient Cave Settlement & UNESCO Heritage Tour

Head to one of the oldest settlements of the Caucasus, Uplistsikhe. It is a city carved in rock, which was supposedly founded in the 1st millennium B.C. The name of the place literally translates as Lord’s Fortress, and it is a place which played one of the most important political and economic roles in the history of Georgia. Archaeologists have unearthed numerous temples and findings relating to a sun goddess, worshiped prior to the arrival of Christianity. You can explore the vicinity and find out how an ancient wine cellar was functioning, or how the ancient Georgians used to have complex irrigation systems. The complex counts around 150 cave rooms of different purposes. After exploring Uplistsikhe your journey will continue towards Mtskheta, which was once the capital of the old Georgian kingdom Iberia. Here Christianity became an official religion in 337. Mtskheta boasts two UNESCO cultural heritages: the Svetitskhevli Cathedral (built in the 11th century). and the Jvari Monastery (built in the 6th century). Afterwards, you will continue to the next destination, the monastery complex of Shio Mgvime. The place is steeped in the forest and is located in a beautiful and quiet limestone gorge. The name of the place is literally translated as "The cave of Shio". St. Shio, who was supposedly a founder of the monastery complex in the 6th century, was one of the 13 Assyrian Fathers. His grave is also located here and is considered to be a holy place. Upon request a short hiking (approximately 1.5 hours) to the small chapel up to the hill can be done, from where you will have wonderful view of the surrounded area.

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What people are saying about Shida Kartli

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 13 reviews

The places and the stories were quite interesting. Lika was very informative and fun. I especially loved the climb to Uplistsikhe and the traditional lunch at Joseph's. Their version of Caesars salad, mushroom chakapuli and cutleti were so good.

The tour is great very well organized and worth every lari, the tour guide Buta was very friendly and created a good atmosphere the whole trip, the (optional) food was ok, the trip is very recommended!

Really a nice tour and the young guide was very knowlageable. Can fully recommend the trip and tour company.

a really interesting day out and great to experience taster of Georgian dance with lunch

A fun, interesting and informative trip that was very well organised.