Akhaltsikhe, located 200km from Tbilisi, is a city in Georgia’s southwestern region of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the north and new in the south. It’s a base city to explore Georgia’s one of the main sightseeing: cave city of Vardzia. It’s also near Abastumany resort with its pine forest and observatory. But Akhaltsikhe and its surroundings itself is also worth exploring. Buses run regularly from Tbilisi to Akhaltsikhe from Didube station. There are buses also from Kutaisi and Khashuri.


Rabati fort, Akhaltsikhe


Akhaltsikhe’s historical part, its Rabati fortress was recently renovated. Although it lost its  original look and looks a bit artificial after restoration, it’s possible to take nice photos in a good weather on the background of its stunning eastern-styled towers, shining mosque, charming palaces and fountains, etc.


Sapara Monastery in autumn colors


Sapara Monastery (10th century) is definitely worth visiting in the vicinity of Akhaltsikhe for its best-preserved frescoes, classically Georgian and fascinating architecture and unarguably superb location. Hidden in the mountain forest, it’s located 10km from Akhaltsikhe. The road is not paved and you need a taxi to get there (around 30 GEL). You may need two hours to explore the site (in a nice weather you can stay even more) and to climb up the nearby slopes towards a rocky outcropping to get lovely views over the monastery and the valleys in the distance.


View from Agara Monastery


One of the exotic sightseeing of Akhaltsikhe disrict, my favorite for its undescribed nature in spring-autumn (May and October months) seasons, is Uraveli gorge’s short hiking route from village Uraveli (16km from akhaltsikhe) to the Agara church (41°31’20″N 43°2’18″E) ruins and Enteli stoneman (idol). In remains of Enteli village it is site (N 41° 32.309 E 43° 03.389) today only has the remains of a church and nearby a well-preserved megalithic monument called the “Enteli Stoneman”. The route is close Turkish border and has very wild and impressive scenery and panoramas. On the way to Uraveli village you can also visit Baiebi rock-cut fortress. First you need to get to village Uraveli and from there you can hike up to the idol. Beware of ugly weather and shepherd’s dogs. Also don’t go there if it’s late autumn or early spring and trees are without leaves. In Uraveli gorge there are many places places where you can eat fresh salmon. Uraveli gorge offers interesting options for jeeptours, picnics or bike tours from Akhaltsikhe.



Uraveli gorge Panorama (by G.Tabatadze)

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