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Incredibly beautiful medieval cave city Vardzia, which was built in the 12th century by Georgia’s greatest ruler -Queen Tamar, is located in Georgia’s southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region, 60km from Akhaltsikhe.

Vardzia monastery is simply amazing and breathtaking, with unusual location. This city once used to have 30,000 inhabitants  – now it’s a monastery where several monks live. Most of the city museum is open to the visitors and you can visit the caves and the main cave church with well-preserved frescoes, including the fresco of Queen Tamar and his father King George III) from the 12th century. It involves some walking on the steps, in the dark tunnels too. You should carry some water in the summer.




Museum is open from 10 to 17 everyday except Monday. Entrance fee: 7 GEL.  You need to drive/take a taxi from Akhaltsikhe or bus which leaves from Akhaltsikhe 3 times a day to Vardzia (last one on 1.20pm from Akhatsikhe to vardzia, last bus back 3pm); There are many homestays around as well as camping places so you don’t have to rush out the same day, but if you want to make it in one day take 7am bus from Tbilisi. PS. For different views of Vardzia you can hike to Gogasheni village on the plateau of Javakheti. 


Vanis Kvabebi


I strongly advise you to visit Vanis Kvabebi (Qvabebi ) caves which is just 2km-s from Vardzia, across the river, and offers tourists unforgettable experience. It can not be better than Vardzia obviously but It’s more green, quiet and exotic. It has lots of caves, tunnels. Make Sure find your way from the right side of the cliff all the way to small white-domed church. Currently there is a monastery at the entrance so there is no key needed (by 10.2014).


Upper Tmogvi (by N.Vardzelashvili)

Another site you can visit is Tmogvi fortress near the village Tmogvi. Near Tmogvi there is also Gelsunda caves which is to me less interesting, but has one cave with stone door and you can visit it if you stay in one of the many guesthouses of Tmogvi, but the fortress itself and small church on the way up from the fortress are more mysterious places. Tmogvi fortress is not in a good shape unlike another fortress on the road (Khertvisi fort) but has nice views over the river gorge. If you visit the fortress and have some time don’t miss upper Tmogvi church ( 41°24’12.56″N  43°17’16.35″E 3-4km up the jeep trail on the top of plateau) which is at very unique location especially if the area around is all green in May-June months.


Khertvisi Fortress

Well-preserved Khertvisi Fortress on the road to Vardzia is impressive especially from the outside and it takes short time to visit it. But my next recommendation along with Vanis Kvabebi and Tmogvi will be golden village of Georgia my favorite Saro. It’s 7km from Khertvisi fortress just outside Vardzia gorge on the way to Akhaltsikhe. You can read about it here.

Other less recommended sites include Tsunda church near Tmogvi village. From there you can also ascend to Kumurdo. Also there is upper Vardzia monastery near Vardzia which you can visit with an old church and nice garden.

For the map please see:

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4 Responses

  1. shena

    Interesting post. well,i would like to know about the road condition to vardzia? do we need a off -road vehicle to reach there?

    • Georgian Tour

      No, there is a regular asphalted road to Vardzia (through Khertvisi). If you really want offroading and jeeptour to Vardzia you can drive through village Gogasheni though. In this case you will enjoy panorama to Vardzia gorge.

    • Georgian Tour

      Its also monastery there, I dont think so, maybe in front they will allow;
      I suggest camping at hot baths south from Vardzia. also in Saro, in Gogasheni with a view to Vardzia, in Upper Tmogvi, etc


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