Folks, you may recall my lovely friend Carrie who has had the pleasure of traveling to some seriously cool locales around the world as part of her job at Reach to Teach. One such locale is The Republic of Georgia, a country that frankly hadn’t crossed my traveler’s radar, but after reading this, am rethinking.
Here are her top 10 reasons to think about visiting, and perhaps living and teaching, in The Republic of Georgia:
Georgia’s Capital City: Tbilisi
As the capital of modern-day Georgia, Tbilisi offers a wealth of historic sights and museums to give travelers a glimpse into the country’s past. A stroll down Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi’s Old Town gives you a great chance to enjoy the old architecture and cobblestone streets, as well as take in a small sample of the shops, cafes and restaurants in Tbilisi. Don’t miss a trip up the hill -either by hiking or by cable car- to Narikala Fortress, where you have spectacular views of the city.
Tbilisi is also the perfect place to see the many ways that Georgia is changing and becoming a part of the modern world. Since this is a popular place to teach in Georgia, a large number of people from all over the world live in Tbilisi, making it a diverse and lively city.
Vardzia Cave Monastery
Vardzia’s nearly 6,000 caves were carved right into the side of the Erusheli Mountain nearly 1,000 years ago. Although this massive cave complex was originally constructed as a fortress, it later became a monastery, and an important spiritual center for Eastern European Christianity.
Although an earthquake in 1283 destroyed much of Vardzia Cave Monastery, what remains today is still impressive enough to draw tourists from all over Georgia and the world. It’s not only a tourist destination, though. Vardzia is still in use as a monastery. Monks still live within its caves, and occasional ceremonies and services are held in its massive stone church.
Mt. Kazbeg and Tsminda Sameba
At 5,033m, Mount Kazbeg is the third highest mountain in Georgia. Particularly adventurous travelers might be interested in climbing the mountain with a guide. Even for less serious trekkers, though, there are plenty of hiking opportunities nearby, ranging from an easy stroll to the climb up Mt. Kazbeg itself.
Near the base of mountain, the village of Kazbegi offers a perfect place to relax and to use as a starting point for hikes around the area. The village is also near Tsminda Sameba, also known as the Gergeti Trinity Church. At an altitude of 2,170m, this church is a popular destination for travelers, as well as a stopping point for those setting out on linger hikes.
Georgian Military Highway
The Caucasus Mountains are rugged terrain, and only a few roads cut all the way across them. The Georgian Military Highway is one of them. This 200km-long road runs all the way from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz in Russia, passing stunning mountain views as well as numerous villages and historic sites. Russians constructed this highway in the early 19th century by Russians, but the route itself has been used for trade and by invading armies for thousands of years.
Anunari Fortified Castle
One of the top destinations along the Georgian Military Highway, Anunari Fortified Castle is about 45 miles from Tbilisi. This huge complex contains a couple of churches, as well as the remains of the walls and towers that once protected the castle. It’s free of charge, and visitors are given pretty much free reign to explore the ruins.
Located near Gori, in Eastern Georgia, Uplistsikhe is also known as The Fortress of the Lord. It dates all the way back to the 16th century BC, making it one of the oldest cities in Georgia. What’s even more remarkable about Uplistsikhe is that this ancient city is carved entirely out of rock.
In Georgia’s ancient kingdom of Kartli, Uplistsikhe was an important religious and political center and a thriving town. Many of the buildings are still intact, and you can see Christian and Pagan architecture existing side-by-side, as well as the stunning workmanship that went into creating an entire city out of stone.
Georgia is famous for its wine – and for good reason! The fertile land of Georgia has been used for wine making since 8000BC, and archaeologists have found evidence that this region is where grapevines were first cultivated. With its long history of wine making, Georgian wines are ranked as some of the best in the world. In particular, Georgia’s Kakheti region is home to some of the most famous wineries, many of which offer wine tasting for guests, as well as a look at Georgia’s unique method of wine making.
Skiing at Bakuriani and Gudauri
With the Causasus Mountains nearby, Georgia is an excellent place for winter sports enthusiasts. Bakuriani and Gudauri are two of the most popular ski resorts. Gudauri is located about two hours by car from Tbilisi, and offers slopes rising to 2,196m above sea level. Bakuriani is another ski resort, near Borjomi, with slopes rising up to 1,700m.
If you’re interested in seeing what life in a Georgian village is like, head to the tiny village of Sighnaghi. With a population of just 2,000, Sighnaghi is a place where old traditions and lifestyles still run strong. Located in Kakheti, in Eastern Georgia, Sighnaghi is also nearby some of Georgia’s best wineries, making it a great place to relax, experience Georgian village life. Stop here for a day or two to relax, take in some magnificent scenery, and try some of Georgia’s famous wines.
Davit Gareja is a famous cave monastery complex, similar to Vardzia. It is located in Eastern Georgia, overlooking the Azerbaijan deserts. It is not only a popular place for tourists, but is also an important destination for pilgrimage, and a religious center.
These are just a handful of the many sights and attractions that The Republic of Georgia has to offer. With its beautiful scenery, rich historical heritage, and warm, welcoming people, Georgia can be the destination of a lifetime. If you are interested in traveling to Georgia and seeing these sights for yourself, you can find information about how to get a free round-trip flight and a monthly stipend to teach in Georgia, please feel free to get in touch with Reach To Teach Recruiting, an official partner of Georgia’s TLG program.