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Shida Kartli

Religious & spiritual activities

Our most recommended Shida Kartli Religious & Spiritual Activities

From Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe, Gori Day Trip

1. From Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe, Gori Day Trip

Explore the key historical sites of central Georgia, focusing on three different eras: the pagan period, the Christian period, and the Soviet period. Join your guide and a small group to witness the history of Georgia unfold on this full-day tour from Tbilisi.   After pickup from your hotel, your first stop will be the cave town of Uplistsikhe. Its caves and tunnels create a marvelous structure of natural architecture which still holds remnants of its ancient pagan culture.   Then, visit the nearby town of Gori and see the pompous Soviet Museum dedicated to Joseph Stalin, who was born here. After Gori, you’ll drive 1 hour to Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia, where the country’s conversion to Christianity started in the 4th century. See the Svetiskhoveli cathedral and the monastery of Jvari, built on a high hill above the town.   Finally, see the Georgian Stonehenge, an impressive monument of Georgian history off the beaten path. Return to Tbilisi for drop off at your hotel.

Tbilisi: Guided Mtskheta, Gori, and Uplistsikhe Tour

2. 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.

Mtskheta, Gori, and Upliscikhe Private Tour

3. 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.

Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe Full-Day Tour

4. Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe Full-Day Tour

You will be picked up from your hotel at 10:00 AM and will travel to Mtskheta, the previous capital of Georgia. Mtskheta is an ancient town of extraordinary importance to the Georgian nation and is located about 20 km out of Tbilisi. It was the capital of the eastern Georgian kingdom of Iberia from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. It was also the site of Georgia's adoption of Christianity in 334 and remains the headquarters of the Georgian Orthodox Church. Mtskheta is of primary interest to any travelers interested in Georgian history or Orthodox Christianity. During the tour, you will see Svetitskhoveli Orthodox cathedral, located in the historic town and built in the 11th century. Walk in the old city, and visit Djvari monastery, built in the 6th century. You have the opportunity to take photos with a very beautiful view of Mtskheta.  At 1:30 PM, you will visit Gori town where the Joseph Stalin Museum is located. Joseph Stalin’s Museum was established in 1951 as a local history museum but clearly intended to become a memorial to Stalin, who died in 1953. The main building of the complex is a large palace in Stalinist Gothic style. The exhibition is divided into six halls in roughly chronological order and contains many items actually or allegedly owned by Stalin. There is also much illustration by way of documentation, photographs, paintings and newspaper articles.  At 4:00 PM, visit Uplistsikhe town, an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, some 62 miles west of Tbilisi. Uplistsikhe is identified by archaeologists as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. The central part of Upliscikhe is the largest and contains a bulk of the Uplistsikhe rock-cut structures. Narrow alleys and sometimes staircases radiate from the central street to the different structures. End your day trip with a return to your hotel at 7:30 PM. 

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

5. 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 Uplistsikhe Cave Town Day Tour

6. Mtskheta, Gori and Uplistsikhe Cave Town Day Tour

During this tour, you will visit the ancient capital city of Georgia – the city of Mtskheta, which is just less than 12 miles (20 km) from Tbilisi. Here you will see two wonderful UNESCO heritage sites. The first being the 7th-century Jvari Monastery, where you will see a beautiful view of two rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi meeting. The second monument is the 11th-century Svetisckhoveli Cathedral which is an architectural masterpiece of Georgian Renaissance. You will then set off for the West of the country to the city of Gori – “the apple capital city” of Georgia. The city is famous for its fertility and moreover is famous as the motherland of Joseph Stalin (Jugashvili). Here you can visit the house-museum of the famous generalissimo before heading to your next stop. After a 20 minute drive, you will arrive at the ancient cave city Uplistsikhe which was founded around the first millennium B.C. Here you will be able to explore the caves and see how peoples used to live from its establishment and the centuries which it was inhabited. Another 15 minutes away you will find the beautiful 7th-century church, Ateni Sioni, which is famous for its unique frescoes.  After you can have lunch and enjoy a wine tasting at one of the best wineries of central Georgia which you can choose. You can visit Iago's Winery, a small but comfortable wine boutique that is famous for its rate wines and perfect atmosphere. Your other option is Nika Vacheishvili winery which has beautiful views of the mountains of Central Georgia.

Uplistsikhe: Ancient Cave Settlement & UNESCO Heritage Tour

7. 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.

Tbilisi: Guided Gori Fortress, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

8. Tbilisi: Guided Gori Fortress, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

Take the chance to visit Uplistsikhe, a cave town fortress situated on a rocky massif on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. Dating back to the 1st and 2nd millennium B.C., Uplistsikhe was an important religious, political and cultural center in the Hellenistic and late Antique periods. The place was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 B.C., and continued to be inhabited until the 13th century A.D. Between the 6th century B.C. and the 11th century A.D., Uplistsikhe was one of the most important political and religious centers of pre-Christian Kartli, one of the predecessors of the Georgian state. Visitors can still walk among the ancient streets, rock-carved theater, royal halls, pharmacy, pagan temples and Christian churches, while the remains of granaries and large clay wine vessels give us some clue as to the daily life of the inhabitants. You can also visit Joseph Stalin’s Museum in Gori, Stalin (originally Georgian) was the secretary general of the Communist Party during World War II. The museum features Stalin’s house (a hut where he was born), his armor plated railway carriage and a statue that was controversially standing in the main square of Gori up until 2010. Afterwards, discover Gori Fortress, a medieval citadel in Georgia which stands above the city of Gori on a rocky hill. Following this, you will venture to Borjomi, a picturesque resort town in south-central Georgia located on the edge of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. It is one of the districts of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region and is situated in the northwestern part of the region in the picturesque Borjomi Gorge, on the eastern edge of the National Park. The town is famous for its mineral water, which is the number one export of Georgia. Borjomi is also home to the most extensive ecologically themed amusement park in the Caucasus. Due to the supposed curative powers of the area's mineral springs, it is a frequent destination for people with health problems.

From Tbilisi: Georgian Highlights in One Day Private Tour

9. From Tbilisi: Georgian Highlights in One Day Private Tour

Your guide will pick you up in the morning in a comfortable car and head first to the Tbilisi sea. You might be surprised by the existence of a sea in the Georgian capital, but in fact, the Tbilisi sea is the unofficial name of the reservoir created in 1952 to serve the city with water. The Tbilisi reservoir is located at a height of more than 500m above sea level and it is a pleasure to spend time here during the summer heat. Here, you’ll also visit a monument that amazes with its size. Known as the Georgian Stonehenge, the monument is officially titled the Chronicle of Georgia and was created by the Georgian-Russian painter, sculptor, and architect Zurab Tsereteli. The memorial was erected in order to celebrate 3,000 years of Georgian sovereignty and 2,000 years of Christianity in Georgia. The next stop will be the Jvari Monastery, the 6th-century Georgian Orthodox monastery built on a hill opposite Mtskheta at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers. Jvari Monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Continue to the Shida Kartli region where you’ll visit Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave town and one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. Uplistsikhe — literally “Fortress of God" — is an ancient town that played a significant role in Georgian history over a period of approximately 3,000 years. Archaeological excavations have revealed extraordinary artifacts dating from the late Bronze Age all the way up to the late Middle Ages. The next stop will be at Borjomi Central Park, home to the most remarkable virtues of Borjomi with its striking nature and unique mineral waters. One of the best places to experience this is Mineral Water Park. The park itself dates back to the 1850s and is an attractive destination throughout the year. Here you can taste the natural Borjomi mineral water and relax in a beautiful environment, or you can try riding the cable car up to the top of the park. After this last stop, your guide will drop you off in Borjomi or Bakuriani, or you can return to your accommodation Tbilisi.

From Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

10. From Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Gori, Uplistsikhe and Borjomi Tour

Begin your tour with pickup at your accommodation in Tbilisi and make your way to the historic town of Mtskheta, to the northwest of the Georgian capital. Discover Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, an Eastern Orthodox cathedral that is the second largest building in Georgia, after the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Admire this masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Next, head to the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragi Rivers to visit the 6th century Georgian Orthodox Jvari Monastery, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about traditional accounts of this place with your guide, and hear how Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with converting King Mirian III of Iberia to Christianity, erected a large wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple here in the 4th century. Continue your journey to the Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori, the city where the former Soviet Union leader was born. Enjoy the Soviet-era characteristics of the museum, and discover the small wooden hut where Stalin was born and spent the first 4 years of his life. Then, step even further back into history by visiting the ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe in eastern Georgia, some 62 miles (100 kilometers) west of Tbilisi. Explore one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia, and learn about its mythical foundation by Uplos, son of Mtskhetos, and grandson of Kartlos in the Georgian medieval written tradition. Leaving Uplistsikhe behind you, travel to the Georgian resort town of Borjomi along a picturesque road through the green and leafy Borjomi Valley. Hear about the area's famed mineral water, which is spread all over the globe, and admire the beauty of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, as well as the sulphuric baths located all over the territory. Finally, make your last stop at the Green Monastery, officially known as Chitakhevi St. George Monastery, a 9th-century friary located in the village of Chitakhevi. The tour includes with drop-off back at your accommodation in Tbilisi.

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What people are saying about Shida Kartli

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 11 reviews

This excursion is without doubt one of the most interesting that we have done. The history of the country, its relation to religion, agriculture and wine is told to you in detail. The visit of the caves with its history with the invasion of Genghis Khan and subsequently the Soviet troops ... Everything is to be taken with very interesting anecdotes. The price is it derisory compared to the quality of the excursion. I end with a visit to the vineyard with a winemaker of incredible generosity! Marie was a fantastic guide! I wish you to meet her.

Great program, very skilled guide!

The guide and setup were top notch, but the driver was a bit harsh on the accelerator. This was especially true on the way home from the trip, when he lay behind a bus and tried to squeeze past. We experienced this as risky. The car was not one of the fastest either. On such a wonderful and expensive trip, one should not have to worry about whether a serious accident will happen.

We had a really great day with Alexiv. The sights were very interesting, especially in the early morning sunlight of sunrise and Alexiv did a wonderful job of explaining them to us. He was a safe driver, very friendly and patient and a pleasure to be with. The cave sight was cool to visit but you have to be in good shape, have great balance and be a good climber to do it.

I enjoyed a lot. The guide Alex was very gentle, kind, helpful and knowledgeable. He knew the history of Georgia well. He was always ready to help. It was a real leisure trip. He was a good driver too.

It was very helpful to have Lhasa on our tour. He was so friendly and we had vey interessting conversations.