7 Must-Visit Historical Sites in Georgia

18/12/2023

If you enjoy beautiful snow-capped mountains, winding rivers and incredible historic towns and villages spread across the landscape, Georgia is a must-visit location. Packed with centuries of history and influences, there are so many Georgia historical sites to see. Here are just a handful of the experiences you could have when you visit Georgia.

Hiking to Ushguli

Ushguli is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed village, located at 2,200m above sea level. While Ushguli is a terrific historical site to check out when you visit Georgia, it’s far more than just some old buildings or ruins. In fact, Ushguli is still permanently inhabited, making it the highest inhabited village in all of Europe.

Ushguli is the highest continuously inhabited village in Europe
Ushguli is the highest continuously inhabited village in Europe

Despite being an extremely elevated village, it is actually nestled near the base of Georgia’s highest mountain, Mt Shkhara, which stands at 5,068m above sea level. Some of the most impressive features are the stone watch towers surrounding the village, but for those who want to see a beautiful vista, you can walk to nearby Queen Tamar’s Tower, which offers spectacular views of the Caucasus Mountains.

Journey from Adishi to Iprari

The remote village of Adishi sits at about 2,000m above sea level, and even in the summer months, it remains largely inaccessible. Thanks to this inaccessibility, the village remains mostly untouched, with only a handful of families living there. Crooked Compass tours of Georgia allow you to visit Adishi locals and experience real Svanetian hospitality.

Upon leaving Adishi on your way to Iprari, you’re given more of an opportunity to revel in Georgia’s natural beauty. From hiking alongside rivers to crossing them, you’ll travel along beautiful paths lined with rhododendrons. You can even check out the ruins of the ancient Kalde village and move along the Chkhutnieri Pass

Discovering Chiatura and Kutaisi

Moving into West Georgia, you’ll encounter a landscape that’s vastly different from the East. In an inland valley on the banks of the Qvirila River, you’ll find the old mining town of Chiatura. While steeped in history of its own, perhaps the biggest attraction in Chiatura is the network of cable cars used to connect the city to surrounding mining settlements. These Soviet-style cable cars are still operational today.

Kutaisi, west Georgia, home to the centuries-old Bagrati Cathedral
Kutaisi, west Georgia, home to the centuries-old Bagrati Cathedral

Nearby is the town of Kutaisi, which is a must-see for history buffs. It’s one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and the third-largest in Georgia. Here, you’ll find the ruins of the 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral. Travel a few kilometres further and you’ll find the Gelati Monastery, a UEO World Heritage site. The stunning architecture in Kutaisi must be seen to be believed.

Exploring the Uplistsikhe Cave Town

The ancient cave town of Uplistsikhe dates back to the 1st millennium AD. It can be found about 10 kilometres from Gori, and to this day, it still features a range of cultural influences that have been present in the region over the years. As you explore this ancient town, you’ll walk through tunnels, visit wine cellars and check out some of the impressive architecture, such as an amphitheatre carved into the hillside and beautiful churches.

Uplistsikhe was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC
Uplistsikhe was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC

Visiting Mtskheta

Mtskheta is the ancient capital of Georgia and also its religious centre. Its history dates back over 3,000 years, and as such, it includes more than one UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of these is the Jvari Church, which was built in the 6th century and sits on a rocky mountaintop and has survived to this day. When it was built, many tried to replicate its architecture, to the point that many Georgian churches followed the Jvari style.

Also in Mtskheta is the famous Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, built back in the 11th century. While its architecture is impressive, being the second-largest church in Georgia, it’s what’s inside that draws people to the area. The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is known as the burial place of the Robe of Christ.

Tbilisi’s Old Town

If you want history, one of the best places to visit in Georgia is the old town of Tbilisi. It’s the capital of Georgia and home to over a million people from a variety of backgrounds. Tbilisi has a complicated history, falling under Persian and Russian rule at various stages, meaning there are many religious and architectural gems to explore.

Experience a range of Eastern Orthodox churches, art nouveau buildings, and Soviet Modernist structures. Particular highlights are the Narikala Fortress, first constructed in the 4th century, and the Kartlis Deda. The Kartlis Deda is a statue that sits atop Sololaki Hill. The 20-metre-tall monument depicts a woman in national Georgian dress, dubbed ‘The Mother of Georgia’.

Sighnaghi

Sighnaghi is a small town in the Eastern region of Kakheti. While it’s one of Georgia’s smallest, it is also incredibly popular as it sits right in a wine-growing region. The unique landscape features cobblestone streets, picturesque views across the Alazani Valley and a range of colourful pastel houses. Visitors can even try out some traditional wine made in a Kveri (clay vessel). This method of wine production features on UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list.

If you’d like to experience a life-changing journey through beautiful Georgia, contact Crooked Compass today.