This morning we start to travel around East Georgian countryside and enjoy enchanting charm of simplicity of pastoral life-style and breathtaking views of forested foothills. Our destination is the town of Signaghi – a place of romance and  love as it has been called in recent years. Perched on the mountain cliff  with its 4,5 km. long  defensive wall of the 18th  century  Sighnaghi  is one of the prettiest  towns of the country which still retains its original scent and style with its narrow, cobbled streets full of one or two storey houses with bright red tiled roofs and beautifully carved balconies. The city has wonderful views over the Alazani  Valley to the snow capped  Caucasus mountains beyond.

After our leisurely walk through the winding streets and backyards of the town, we continue to Bodbe convent (6th c.).A small church with beautiful frescos houses the grave of St.Nino-a young girl who converted Georgia to Christianity as early as 326.

We arrive back in Tbilisi in the early evening and check in a hotel

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Our morning starts with adventurous visit to the largest man made cave-city in Europe-Vardzia, fully cut into a towering cliff face. Founded by King George III in the 12th century as a support point for Georgian army against different enemies , Vardzia  as a monastic complex  mainly  developed by his daughter and successor Tamar. Damaged after a devastating earthquake in the 15th century, complex features over 600 caves -refectories ,churches and halls.

Afterwards, we continue to drive to  Javakheti region famous for its alpine meadows and volcanic lakes.

As well as places for  prayer and ascetic inspiration, monasteries have historically been associated with  crafts, scientific research, farming and winemaking. On our way to Tbilisi we will drop in a Poka Nunnery where local nuns make different type of cheese, jams, soaps, traditional candies as well as paint on porcelain.

We arrive in Tbilisi and check in a hotel

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We leave Kutaisi this morning and start to drive to South Georgia. En-route we visit Ulistsikhe-ancient town with   palaces, hallways, streets  and amphitheatres carved into the massive mountain slope. Established in the 2nd   millennium  B.C as a pagan temple-town, it later became an important base for the Silk Road traders on their way from China to Europe.

After lunch we reach the small spa-town of Borjomi  and take a gentle walk in its mineral water  park dating back to 1850 before driving to the town of Akhaltsikhe where we overnight

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After breakfast  we  will start our morning tour by visiting the local open-air peasants’ market where we will enjoy the multi-scented ambiance of different herbs, spices, sugar dusted dried fruits, seeds and a variety of chili powders.

Then we  make our way to the 12th c. Gelati Academy-one of the country’s most treasured religious and cultural landmarks. Built by Famous king of Georgia David the Builder as a grand tribute of his victory over the Turks, the academy was one of the first institutions of higher education  founded in the Middle Ages. This UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgia is renowned for its Academy building and several churches with beautiful mosaic and rich frescos.

After lunch we visit Georgia’s one of the natural wanders- Prometheus Cave and take a walk in the underground paradise of  different stalactites, stalagmites, petrified waterfalls, and underground rivers and lakes.

On the way back, we explore another UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgia-Bagrati Cathedral (1003 y) erected on the site of ancient acropolis of Colchis kings.

Overnight in Kutaisi

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We will leave the capital of Georgia to visit the spiritual heart of Georgia – at Mtskheta – the first capital of Georgian empire from the 3rd century BC to the 5th century AD. First we drive up to the mountains to visit one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Mtskheta – 6th century Jvari (Holy Cross) monastery and enjoy the spectacular views of Mtskheta and the confluence of the two rivers below.

Then, we drive down to the town dominated by the impressive cathedral called  “Life-Giving Pillar” or Svetitskhoveli in Old Georgian. According to ancient legend, the first church (4th century AD) was built on the burial site of Christ’s robe. As the church was being constructed, a wooden pillar rose into the air and a miraculous chrism  started to flow from it, healing all the diseases which gave its name to the church.

We continue to drive to West Georgia via Tikoti Pass which is said to be the borderline between Europe and Asia and make our first stop at 9th c. Ubisa church of St. George.  The church houses a unique circle of murals painted by local artist – Damiane in the late 14th century which can rival the finest frescos in other Byzantine churches.

Later, we arrive in the town of Kutaisi-one of the oldest towns of Europe and current seat of the parliament of Georgia. Kutaisi is believed to have been the capital of the Dazzling  Empire of the sun -Colchis around 3000 years ago  where ,according to Apollonius of Rhodes and Euripides, a group of the Greek heroes led by Jason arrived in  in search of the Golden Fleece.

We overnight in a family hotel in Kutaisi

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We assemble at 10:00 in our hotel lobby and  meet a local English-speaking guide and driver to  explore the tremendous heritage of Georgia’s capital city-Tbilisi. Reaching the Old Town, we take a walk through its narrow, cobbled streets, ancient twisted pathways and boulevards, marvelling at the 1500 year history of this great town.

Throughout its history, Tbilisi has been a crucial location for many different trade routes and has been famous for its multi religious  and multicultural character.  Its diversity and cultural richness can be seen in the magnificence of Tbilisi’s architecture which been influenced by Byzantine, European and Oriental art. In the heart of the old town we will find churches, synagogues, mosques, Caravanserai, and even a Zoroastrian temple  as well as the famous  Sulphur Baths and glorious ruins of Narikala castle – which was the main fortification of Tbilisi.

Overnight in Tbilisi

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