Discover the Kingdom of Georgia: Castles, Chapels, and Snow-Capped Peaks

Georgia, the small country wedged between Turkey and Russia, has a long history seeping with legends and a bright outlook on its future.

From cave cities to crumbling castles, ancient churches to dormant volcanoes, Georgia as a destination makes sense for anyone interested in history, hiking, or incredible views. Georgia seamlessly blends both Asian and European cultures to be a crossroad for tomorrow. Even though it is currently under-the-radar, that notion is changing as fast as the ancient Silk Road city of Tbilisi is becoming a modern marvel. Don't get it confused with the state...


Tbilisi 

Georgia's capital and largest city, Tbilisi is the perfect place to start your Georgian adventure. It has everything from historic old towns, ancient churches, vertigo-inducing castles, and quirky clock-towers. At the crossroads of Asia and Europe, this diverse city still evokes its Silk Road glory days while mingling with the bold future.


Narikala Fortress 

Overlooking the beautiful capital of Tbilisi, this fortress has traded hands more than a few times. Originally a Persian Citadel, it changed sides with the Kingdom of Georgia, the Mongolian Empire, and the Umayyad Caliphate until ultimately becoming (for now at least) Tbilisi's most popular tourist attraction.


Mount Kazbek 

This dormant volcano lies 16,558 ft. high in the Caucasus Mountain range, right on the border of Georgia and Russia. It is the second highest mountain in the Caucasus, after Mount Elbrus, the highest in all of Europe.


Cathedral of the Living Pillar  

The most important church in Georgia, this masterpiece in Mtskheta was originally built 1600 years ago and further reconstructed 1000 years ago. It is rumored that the robe of Jesus is buried under one of its pillars.


Gergeti Trinity Church 

Built in the 14th century, this church towers above the town of Stepantsminda thousands of feet below while being silhouetted by the mighty Caucasus Mountains. Due to its remote location, this church housed and protected precious relics from the Cathedral of the Living Pillar during dangerous times.


Khertvisi Fortress 

One of the oldest fortifications in Georgia dating back to at least the 2nd Century BC. Legend has it that it was even older, as Alexander the Great came through the region and destroyed this lofty castle.


Vardzia 

Down the same Valley as Khertvisi Fortress lies the rock-cut cave monastery of Vardzia. With excavations beginning in the 12th Century AD, these caves consist of hundreds of rooms full of ancient paintings and objects. They were completely abandoned more than 400 years ago and left alone for all those years.


Rabati Castle 

First a Christian city established in the 9th Century and then later an Islamic fortress under the Ottomans. This castle, in Akhaltsikhe, has a complicated history which is representative of the diversity of this region.

Georgia is a beautiful and historical country that also has equally beautiful and hospitable people, despite their fast and furious driving habits. Hopefully you can experience all of these and more with your own journey to this ancient land.

Published: October 31, 2018

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Kevin McFarland

San Diego

In search of Earth's Last Shangrila. From East to West and everywhere in between, I explore sanctuaries, tell stories, and photograph nature's humble abode.