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Shida Kartli

UNESCO sites

Our most recommended Shida Kartli UNESCO Sites

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.

From Tbilisi: Mtskheta, Uplistsikhe, Gori Day Trip

3. 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

4. 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

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.

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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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.

From Tbilisi: 2-Day Tour to Vardzia

9. 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.

Day Tour to Gori, Uplistsikhe and Mtskheta from Tbilisi

10. Day Tour to Gori, Uplistsikhe and Mtskheta from Tbilisi

In the morning your driver meets you at the place of your stay in Tbilisi from where your trip to Central Georgia starts. First stop on the way is Jvari monastery that overlooks the ancient capital Mtskheta. From Jvari there is a nice panoramic view of the confluence of two rivers, Mtkavri and Aragvi. Then, continue your way for Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city in Central Georgia 110 kilometers away from Tbilisi. Uplistsikhe complex is considered as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia by archeologists. After exploring Uplistsikhe, drive to Gori where the museum of Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union, is located. At the museum you can see items owned by Stalin, including some of his office furniture, documents and photos. Outside of the museum you can find his personal train carriage which weighs 83 tons. He used that carriage to attend the post-war conferences at Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. At last, drive back for Tbilisi and on the way visit Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Nowadays Mtskheta is a UNESCO site and serves as the center of the Georgian orthodox church. 

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What people are saying about Shida Kartli

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 102 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.