The walls of the fortress on the background of mountain ranges, lush green hills wrapped with ribbons of rivers – it’s Georgia, hospitable and lovely country, although a bit harsh. It offers tourists a fine cuisine and thrilling journey into the past.
For many people, Georgia is still too exotic and distant to visit it even for a short stay or longer holiday. On the other hand, more and more people are interested in its monuments and resign from Spanish or Italian beaches on the benefit of the impressive peaks resembling the backs of giants. They aren’t even repelled by the fact that the Georgian weather can be really fitful and can treat tourists with lashing, cold wind. Not to mention the boundaries when planning the route – it won’t lead through the Caucasus, because of the closed border crossings with Russia and dangerous separatists’ zones, which you would need to get through.
Tourists wanting to explore Georgia, come here by their own means of transport across the Black Sea to Ukraine or through northern Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. The second option is to travel by plane. What’s important, Poles don’t need visas - all you need is a valid passport.
A day-trip to Mtskheta
If Georgia, then probably Tbilisi. But this story is about other place, its neighbor, the museum-city called Mtskheta. It lies approximately 20 km from the capital, located at the confluence of two rivers, in a picturesque valley. To its unique location it owes both stunning scenery and defense conditions. On the south side it’s protected by the waters of Georgia's largest river, Mtkwari, which is closely followed by range of the Little Caucasus. In turn, the eastern and northern side is surrounded by Saguramo range, reaching a height of nearly 1,500 meters above sea level.
In the past, Mtskheta was an important point on the map of the country – it’s a place, where Georgians were baptized. Today, tombs of rulers, monasteries, fortresses and monumental temples remind about the past. Its monuments were inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List in 1994.
This Georgian city, which counts approx. 7,500 residents, is easily accessible. In Tbilisi you can get there by bus or taxi (which is more expensive though). Tourists visiting the capital often make a day trip to Mtskheta, to explore the most important sacred monuments of the country.
The cultural capital of Georgia - Mtskheta
While exploring the city it’s necessary to visit Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. It’s the most precious monument in Mtskheta, and its name means "a living pillar". According to the legend, the architect, who worked on the rebuilding of the temple, had his hand cut off, so that he wouldn’t create an equally amazing work ever again.
Svetitskhoveli is distinguished by rich carvings and deliberated, harmonious design. Its characteristic features are high, triangular recesses decorated with five arches. In the stone tombs of the temple repose Georgian rulers, including Vakhtang Gorgasali.
Another priceless monument is Samtawro Monastery, where lies the first Christian king of Georgia, Mirian II along with his wife. Apparently, the temple also hides robes of Jesus. When visiting the temple, pay attention to the heads of pagan gods inbuilt in the walls.
Equally noteworthy is the medieval Fortress of Bebris Tsikhe, standing on the main road to the north. Volunteers can climb on the walls and see the magnificent panorama of the valley of the river Aragwi, hills Dzvaria and Mtskheta itself.
Overnight in the heart of Georgia
After visiting the capital of the region, you can return to Tbilisi and sleep in Solo-Lucky Hostel or in Waltzing Matilda City Hostel (both are located in the center). Of course, you can also spend the night in Mtskheta - numerous private lodgings offer accommodation.
In the internet you can find many positive comments about this beautiful, though somewhat wild country, poetically referred to as the Balcony of Europe. We will read that "Georgia is cheap and extremely friendly" and "Georgia is simply beautiful". It’s best to see with your own eyes that those words are honest truth.