Dmanisi, Home of Europe’s oldest human skull discovered (The hominin site is the earliest of its kind outside of Africa, dating back to 1.81 ml years) is located in southern Georgia, Kvemo Kartli region. You can visit museum to check archeological excavations of bronze age settlement and see the 1.8 million year-old fossilized remains of the first discovered human couple in Europe whose names sound truly Georgian : Zezva and Mzia! You can also visit old city (VI-XV centuries) remains besides prehistoric site: churches, tunnels, wine cellars, streets and some other objects from middle ages. There is even panoramic view to Mashavera river canyon from the top of fortress.
The Museum is open on Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Entrance fee is 3 laris. Public Transportation does not run directly to Dmanisi archeological museum. To explore this region it is better to rent a car or take a taxi (region’s main sites are far from each other and it is harder navigate by public transport), but you can still take marshutka to town of Dmanisi from lower Samgori station and get off at Guguti-Dmanisi intersection and hitchhike the last 5 kilometers to the museum. You can see more info about Dmanisi Homonids here and about the museum on its site.
As Dmanisi is just 90 km from Tbilisi, typical 1-day tour (easy excursions, short relaxation tours) from Tbilisi also includes some other sites on the way back from Tbilisi, including Bolnisi Cathedral and Tsughrughasheni Monastery. What is special about Bolnisi Sioni – it is the oldest extant church building in Georgia dating back from 478–493. Besides, on the walls of Basilica you will find the oldest Georgian inscriptions from 494 AD (Actually it is the oldest in Georgia. Near Jerusalem in old Georgian Monastery older Georgian inscriptions were found dated 430 AD. ). Georgians are proud of their alphabet which according to them is one of 14 alphabets used in the world. The church is built with often green colored tuff stone with shapes of bull head and some other animals or birds which are the signs of pre-christian area reflected in the early Christian architecture.
What is special about Tsughrughasheni church is not its long and hardly pronounceable name but its dome with magnificent carvings which can be compared to some other finest examples found in Nikortsminda, Kvatakhevi and Pitareti churches.
If you start early you may have time to continue south from Tsughrughasheni to Poladauri Fortress for some memorable short hike and adventure. Just past the bridge beyond the village you will see the fortress on the hill, which you will need to ascend from the left side, where you will see the fortress and beautiful view of the surroundings from the field which can be also used for camping. Carefully ascend the fortress from that field – you will find a steep path on your right side.In spring/autumn seasons and in case of longer time you may be tempted to explore more of Poladauri gorge, its Queen Tamar Bridge and hidden monasteries including Sakhundari Monastery.
Some other sights accessible from Bolnisi include Pitareti Monastery which is extotic destination for non-summer season hikes, also there are some other interesting sights such as Chapala Fortress and Karabulakhi Canyons.
One idea would be explore just Bolnisi town itself. It has old German houses, new good museum (where you can learn more about German past of the city) and wineries as well. Some wineries are even based on old cellars which Germans had. One recommended winery can be Brothers winery. There are soviet mosaics near the culture and rest park as well. Since the beginning of 19th century Shwabian German community lived here before World War two, so the city’s previous names included Katharinenfeld after the Queen of Württemberg and Luxemburg in 1921 (after German Communist Rosa Luxemburg). German community had only lutheran church just like in Elizabethal (Asureti), own school, newspaper, theater and 5 football teams. You can still find German houses at Saakadze and Parnavaz streets.
For the map please see: