The Cradle of Wine


Kakheti is a region in eastern Georgia consisting from the historical province of Kakheti and the small, mountainous province of Tusheti. Telavi is its capital. Kakheti is bordered by the Russian Federation to the Northeast, Azerbaijan to the Southeast, and the Georgian regions of Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Kvemo Kartli to the west. Total area of region is 11thousand square meters and population 442 thousand. Kakheti is rich with historical monuments - more than 5000.
The region is famous for its wine production and Viticulture. The method of wine production in Kakheti is principally different from European methods. More info on Georgian and Kakhetian wines here.
Best time to visit Kakheti Region is autumn, during “Rtveli”, when Kakhetians collect grapes and prepare for wine making. This is the time when Churchkhelas are also made (popular Georgian sweets, made from grape juice and nuts).
Below we describe all main highlights and attractions one should visit during the travel to the region.
Total Length: 533km; 11 hours without traffic. 
And here is the link for directions on Google Maps: 


David Gareji stands as a Georgian Orthodox monastery complex that has been carved into the rugged terrain of the Kakheti region in Eastern Georgia. Its unique location graces the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja, situated around 60–70 km southeast of Tbilisi. This intricate complex boasts an array of cells, churches, chapels, refectories, and living spaces meticulously hollowed out of the rock formations.
It's noteworthy that a portion of this remarkable complex extends into Azerbaijani territory, sparking an ongoing border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan. Interestingly, if you're not embarking on a journey to Azerbaijan, you can still humorously claim to have set foot on their land! :)
Beyond its historical and spiritual significance, the area is a haven for protected animal species and harbors traces of ancient human settlements. Observe the white seashells embedded in rocks in certain sections; these remnants bear testament to the area's former oceanic covering from ages past.
Adding to its allure, the complex is set against a lunar-like, semi-desert backdrop that transforms into a verdant oasis, adorned with blossoms, as early summer arrives. The expanse of Davit Gareja encompasses approximately 15 monasteries scattered across a remote landscape. While many of these monasteries have been abandoned over time, visitors often focus on two prominent ones: Lavra, which has been restored since the Soviet era and now accommodates monks once again, and Udabno, perched on the hill above Lavra, boasting exquisite frescoes.
Lavra, the initial monastery within this complex, was established by Davit Gareji, one of the 13 ascetic Syrian fathers who returned from the Middle East during the 6th century to propagate Christianity in Georgia. Over time, the complex expanded, leading to the establishment of monastic sites across a wide area. This locale became a hub for manuscript translation, copying, and a renowned school of fresco painting.
The monastic sanctuaries faced tribulations, including devastation by the Mongols in 1265, revival by Giorgi V the Brilliant in the 14th century, plundering by Timur, and a catastrophic destruction on Easter night in 1615, when Shah Abbas’ troops killed thousands of monks and despoiled numerous artistic treasures. Although the monasteries never fully regained their former prominence, they remained active until the late 19th century. Notably, during the Soviet era, the region served as a military training ground, resulting in the desecration of the monasteries by vandals.
It takes two to three hours to explore Lavra and Udabno. In July and August it can get fearfully hot here by the middle of the day, so an early start, getting here by 10am, is a good idea.
Also, keep in mind that there are many snakes and reptiles lurking the area so watch your step carefully.
There are many interesting symbolic myths and legends connected to the complex and reflected in the icons and wall paintings so hiring a guide might be a good idea if you’re into culture, history and legends :)
Useful info:
- There are no entrance fees to the site.
- Keep in mind that David Gareji is an active monastery, and the monks can be pretty strict, so please try dress and act in accordance.
- We recommend wearing long pants.
- Take water with you, there usually is no running water.
- There is a public toilet near the entrance.
- On the way back we highly recommend stopping in a small village Udabno (the first one on the way to Sagarejo, in the middle of Georgian desert), at the very nice cafe "Oasis Club" where you can try tasty Georgian food and refreshments.
They also have a nice guesthouse / hostel and offer some horse riding tours.
E-mail: oasisclubudabno@gmail.com
Tel: +995 574 80 55 63
How to get there:
We recommend hiring a 4WD vehicle with cars4rent.ge and driving a comfortable car on your own.
There are 2 roads going to Gareji, one, the most popular, is on our map, a red rout turning from town Sagarejo. Another option (Google Maps will recommend this one) is to take a road from town Rustavi, the drive will be interesting but the road is in a worse condition so we recommend the one through Sagarejo.
Although if you are more interested in public transport, every season it’s possible to get to David Gareji by mini-bus, operated by Gareji Line, which departs from Freedom Square.
Here is contact information:
Parking by Pushkin Park / Liberty Square (0.45 km)
+995 551 95 14 47
The Gareji Line bus departs at 11am daily, costs 40 GEL per person and the journey takes just over one hour. 
Please double check, the minibus line operates only from Srping to Autumn.


Signagi, a charming small town nestled in the Kakheti region, beckons with its captivating allure. Despite its modest size, Signagi has captured the hearts of travelers, earning its status as a sought-after tourist haven. Positioned at the epicenter of Georgia's renowned wine-producing area, this town entices visitors with its idyllic scenery, pastel-hued residences, and meandering cobblestone pathways. Perched upon a steep hill, Signagi grants a panoramic vista over the expansive Alazani Valley, where the majestic Caucasus Mountains grace the horizon from afar.
The annals of Signagi's history first trace back to the early 18th century. In 1762, King Irakli II of Georgia spearheaded the establishment of the town, overseeing the construction of a formidable fortress designed to safeguard the region against marauding Dagestan tribesmen.
A hallmark of Signagi is its extensive city walls, a remarkable expanse of 4.5 kilometers of stonework that winds along the contours of modest mountain crests. A pair of entrances provides access to the walls, inviting leisurely strolls along this elevated vantage point, affording captivating views of the Alazani Valley. Notably, the stone material used for the fortress and walls was painstakingly transported from the Alazani Valley itself.
With time, the town's stature and population burgeoned, transforming it into an agricultural nucleus during the Soviet era. However, the post-Soviet economic upheaval cast a shadow over Signagi. Yet, a concerted revitalization endeavor, co-funded by international organizations and orchestrated by the Georgian Government, breathed new life into the town. This initiative catered to burgeoning tourist interest while modernizing the local infrastructure.
Signagi, encircled by the vestiges of 18th-century fortifications, is guarded by the legacy of its historical and cultural heritage. Designated a protected zone by the State since 1975, the town's essence is encapsulated by its walled presence. Within its confines, two Georgian Orthodox churches hold sway.
The Ethnographic and Archaeological Museum, which dates back to the 1950s, underwent a metamorphosis, evolving into the Signagi Museum in 2007, now showcasing modern-standard exhibitions.
A moniker of endearment bestowed upon Signagi is the "City of Love" in Georgia. This label finds resonance as numerous couples journey here, often with matrimonial intentions, drawn by the town's romantic aura.
How to get there:
From Tbilisi marshrutkas run daily from Samgori station at 09:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00, and 18:00. Travel duration is 1.5 hours, with a same schedule returning.
Mashrutka's and shared taxis also depart frequently from the Isani bus terminal. Beware of the destination, some only stop in nearby Tsnori, requiring a taxi ride to Signagi (about 10 minutes, 5 lari can be negotiated).


Situated a mere two kilometers distant from Sighnaghi, this exquisite monastery holds profound significance for the Georgian populace, chiefly due to its role as the final resting place of St. Nino, the harbinger of Christianity to Georgia. A pilgrimage to her tomb is believed to invoke the saint's benevolent influence in fulfilling one's heartfelt aspirations.
Wandering through the resplendent monastery garden bestows a sense of tranquility and serenity upon the visitor. Additionally, a venture down to the sanctified spring of St. Nino offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in its revitalizing, frigid waters. Originally erected during the 9th century, the monastery underwent substantial renovations, notably in the 17th century. Presently, the monastery serves as an active nunnery, a testament to its enduring spiritual purpose.


Telavi serves as the central urban hub and administrative nucleus of Kakheti, the eastern province of Georgia. With a populace numbering around 21,800 residents (as of 2002), the city finds its foothold nestled within the gentle slopes of the Tsiv-Gombori Range, positioned at elevations ranging from 500 to 800 meters above sea level.
The roots of Telavi's antiquity extend back to the Bronze Age, as evidenced by early archaeological discoveries. The chronicles that have endured from the 2nd century AD contribute to our understanding of Telavi's early history. An evolution into a significant political and administrative epicenter transpired during the 8th century AD.
During the 10th to the 12th century AD, Telavi ascended to the status of the capital for the Kingdom of Kakheti. The city reached the zenith of its political and economic influence during the "Golden Era" of the Georgian State, spanning the 12th and 13th centuries. However, following the splintering of the unified Georgian Kingdom in the 15th century, Telavi's prominence waned, relegating it to a role as an ordinary trading and craftsmanship hub. It wasn't until the 17th century that Telavi's political significance was rekindled, this time as the capital of the Kakhetian kingdom.
Telavi and its environs abound in a wealth of historical, architectural, and natural treasures.
Noteworthy heritage sites situated within the city include:
  • Dzveli Galavani (old walls) - a fortress constructed during the reign of the early Kakhetian monarchs in the 9th to 10th centuries AD.
  • Church of St. Mary, built in the 16th century AD.
  • Church of the Holy Trinity, dating back to the 6th century AD.
  • "Batonis Tsikhe" fortress (fortress of the master), an impressive structure from the 17th century AD, serving as one of the few remarkably preserved medieval royal palaces in Georgia.
The landscape enveloping Telavi is a picturesque panorama in every direction. The city is enveloped by scenic vistas, with the Tsiv-Gombori Range gracing the southern and southwestern horizons, while the Alazani Valley to the north and east Greater Caucasus Mountain Range to the north.
The allure of Telavi, stemming from its scenic beauty, historical relics, and above all, the renowned hospitality and kind-heartedness of its inhabitants, has solidified its status as a favored tourist destination within Georgia.
At present, Telavi is connected to Tbilisi via two highways. The shorter route, spanning approximately 96 km, traverses the elevated terrains of the Gombori Mountain Range, offering scenic splendor along a well-maintained path, making it a recommended option. Alternatively, a longer route of around 156 km winds through Kakheti's rural expanses.
How to get there:
A shared minibus from Ortochala Bus station cost takes around 4 hours. The driving is appalling.
At the same station you can also find a shared minivan taxis for the price of 10-15 GEL per person.


Tsinandali, situated within Kakheti, Georgia, emerges as a village of distinction, renowned for its historic estate and winery, once belonging to the 19th-century aristocratic poet Alexander Chavchavadze (1786–1846). This captivating enclave finds its place within the Telavi district.
Inherited from his father, Prince Garsevan, Alexander Chavchavadze came into possession of this village nestled in the embrace of the Alazani River valley. With visionary zeal, he embarked on an extensive renovation of the estate. In 1835, an Italianate palace graced the grounds, and an ornamental garden flourished under his care. Tsinandali transformed into a hub of hospitality, where Chavchavadze regaled foreign visitors with music, eloquence, and, notably, the exceptional wines produced in his estate winery. Drawing upon his familiarity with European practices, Chavchavadze melded centuries-old Georgian wine-making traditions with contemporary European techniques. This fusion bore fruit in the form of the esteemed dry white Tsinandali, a wine that continues to be crafted within these walls.
The Tsinandali garden underwent renewal in 1887, later transitioning to state ownership in 1917. In 1947, the estate underwent transformation into a museum.
In this captivating enclave, you can:
Embark on a stroll through the 19th-century cellars while savoring wines crafted in the 21st century.
Delight in a peerless assemblage of approximately 16,500 wine bottles sourced from diverse corners of the globe.
Behold a weathered bottle of Saperavi wine, produced in the year 1836 by the domain's owner, Alexander Chavchavadze.
Saunter through a British-style park, a landscaped marvel envisioned by British horticulturists during the 19th century.
Encounter the enchanting "Alley of Love," a local legend asserting that those who traverse it from end to end, eyes closed, shall see their heart's desire realized.
Working hours:
Monday - Wednesday 10.00 - 18.00,
Friday - Sunday 10.00 - 19.00.
Tel: (+995 350) 2 3 37 17; (+995 5 99) 71 41 22
Park has a cafe and a souvenir shop.


Alaverdi Monastery, an Eastern Orthodox sanctuary located in the Kakheti region of Georgia, stands as a testament to spiritual heritage. While certain sections of the monastery trace their origins to the 6th century, the contemporary cathedral, erected during the 11th century, took the place of an earlier church devoted to St. George.
Initiated by the Assyrian monk Joseph (Yoseb) Alaverdeli, who journeyed from Antioch to establish residence in Alaverdi, a modest village that once served as a pagan center dedicated to the Moon. Towering to a height surpassing 55 meters, the Alaverdi Cathedral ranks as the second loftiest religious edifice in Georgia, second only to Tbilisi's Holy Trinity Cathedral, consecrated in 2004. This monastery assumes a central role in the annual religious observance known as Alaverdoba. Nestled within the epicenter of the world's oldest wine-producing region, the monastic inhabitants further engage in viniculture, crafting their own wine renowned as Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.


Gremi stands as a notable architectural relic from the 16th century, comprising the regal citadel and the Church of the Archangels, situated within Kakheti. This complex, now all that remains of the once-thriving town of Gremi, can be found southwest of the contemporary village bearing the same name, nestled within the Kvareli district. The site rests 175 kilometers to the east of Tbilisi.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Gremi flourished as the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti. Established by Levan of Kakheti, it thrived as a vibrant trading hub along the Silk Road and served as a royal abode until it was devastated by the forces of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1615. The town's former prosperity remained elusive, prompting the Kakheti monarchs to relocate their capital to Telavi in the mid-17th century.
The expanse of the town appears to have encompassed approximately 40 hectares, consisting of three core sectors: the Archangels’ Church complex, the royal residence, and the commercial quarter.
Perched atop a hill, the Archangels’ Church complex encompasses the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, a three-tiered castle, a bell tower, and a wine cellar (marani). A protective wall envelops this enclave, adorned with embrasures, turrets, and towers. Vestiges of a concealed tunnel leading to the Ints’obi River have also endured.
The Church of the Archangels, erected in 1565 and adorned with frescoes by 1577, assumes the form of a cruciform domed structure, predominantly crafted from stone. Its architectural blueprint harmonizes traditional Georgian masonry with a local interpretation of contemporary Iranian design sensibilities. The edifice boasts entrances on its western, southern, and northern sides. Internally, a dome graces the sanctuary, upheld by corner piers and two foundational columns. The facade is divided into three arched sections, while the dome rests upon an arcaded drum punctuated by eight windows.
Within the bell tower, a museum unfolds, housing an array of archaeological artifacts and a cannon from the 16th century, offering a glimpse into history's pages.

Apart from the highlights mentioned above, if you have some extra time we recommend visiting following attractions:


Nekresi emerges as a significant antiquated settlement nestled within Kakheti, situated within the contemporary confines of Kvareli Municipality. Its origins can be traced back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. During the 4th century AD, the monarch Thrdat undertook the construction of a church on this very site. This church, in subsequent years, provided sanctuary to Abibus, one of the esteemed Assyrian fathers, during the latter part of the 6th century. It was around this juncture that the Diocese of Nekresi came into being, a presence that endured until the 19th century.
Recently, a comprehensive restoration initiative has breathed new life into the church. The endeavor encompassed the meticulous repair of stone masonry, the reconstruction of the roof, and the addition of windows, effectively rekindling the church's historical essence.


Ikalto, positioned approximately 10 km to the west of Telavi, unfolds as a village recognized for its venerable monastery complex and the renowned Ikalto Academy.
Attributed to the efforts of Saint Zenon, one of the esteemed Syrian Fathers, the Ikalto monastery took root in the waning years of the 6th century. Emerging as a paramount hub of cultural and scholarly endeavors in Georgia, the monastery gained distinction. The dawn of the 12th century witnessed the establishment of an academy within the monastery, courtesy of Arsen Ikaltoeli during the reign of King David the Builder. This institution, known as the Academy of Ikalto, encompassed a comprehensive curriculum encompassing theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, geography, geometry, as well as practical crafts like pottery, metalwork, viticulture, winemaking, and pharmacology. As legend would have it, the illustrious 12th-century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli received his education within these hallowed halls.
The monastery precinct boasts three churches. The principal church, named the Holy Spirit, took shape in the 8th to 9th centuries upon the grounds of an antecedent church where Saint Zenon found his resting place. In a somber twist, the year 1616 bore witness to the conflagration ignited by Persian invaders led by Shah Abbas I, an event that sealed the demise of the Ikalto Academy.


In the vicinity of Telavi, within the village of Shuamta, a sight awaits that reveals the remnants of the antiquated Shuamta Monastery alongside its more contemporary counterpart, the New Shuamta Monastery. Divergent in architectural style, these two monastic enclaves bear the imprints of distinct eras of construction.
The elder of the two, Old Shuamta Monastery, stands as a complex housing multiple venerable churches. Foremost is the diminutive church at the forefront, which traces its origins back to the 5th century AD. Adjacent to it are two larger and smaller domed churches, a testament to the 7th century. The artistic canvas of these structures was enriched by intricate frescoes during the 12th century.
In a contrasting epoch, New Shuamta Monastery emerged in the 16th century, remaining an active center of devotion to this day. Within its encompassing embrace, the grand temple, a towering bell tower, and the enclosing walls intermingle to form the monastery complex. According to local lore, this monastery's genesis is intertwined with Queen Tina of Kakheti. As a young girl, she was visited by a dream that beckoned her to erect an Orthodox sanctuary. The dream unveiled the location of the future monastery, a terrain initially unfamiliar to Tina. It wasn't until her marriage to a Kakhetian prince and her subsequent journeys across Georgia that the landscape of her vision materialized before her eyes. This serendipitous recognition prompted the foundation of the monastery, perpetuating the legend's narrative.


In Kakheti there are 2 lake resorts. Lopota and Kvareli. Both are situated near small lakes in very beautiful area. Both resorts have very good infrastructure and offer very good leisure and relaxing surroundings. Both resorts are pretty highly priced.
You can see more details at their websites:

Lopota Lake Resort
Tel: +995 32 2 400 400 /+995 591 700 777
Email: info@lopota.ge
Kvareli Lake Resort
Tel: +995322 30 30 30
Email: welcome@kvarelilakeresort.ge
And finally once in the region we highly recommend visiting beautiful national Parks, Vashlovani and Lagodekhi.
For more information on those and other National Parks in Georgia please visit our National Parks page.

Ancient Capital of Georgia



In The Middle of Georgia