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Vardzia and Akhaltsikhe Castle – medieval military strategies – Geotrace
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Vardzia and Akhaltsikhe Castle – medieval military strategies

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Tour Type

Daily Tour

Group Size

6 people


English, Russian


History of the Middle Ages. Is it the romance of knightly deeds or a period of bloody conspiracies?

Those cities gave way to the medieval complexes that have survived to this day, which witnessed the strengthening of an influential family, weaving intrigues against the strengthening and centralization of royal power to please themselves and to the detriment of the entire state, and then balancing on strings of diplomatic tricks in order to survive themselves and protect their vassals.

Tune in for a long journey of up to 15 hours, during which we will ride along the ancient trade route and along the bottom of the Kura gorge, visit and climb three interesting historical complexes, take many vivid photographs as a keepsake, have lunch in a cozy tavern with beautiful views of the Erusheti plateau, and in the evening, we will return to Tbilisi.

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  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Take your cameras or mobile phone to take a lot of juicy photos.
  • A small amount of cash will come in handy to pay for lunch at the Tavern.
  • If the tour is conducted during a short daylight hours, then we will visit either the Sapara complex or the Khertvisi fortress


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Akhaltsikhe Castle - Rabat
Akhaltsikhe Castle - Rabat

This is a fortress and historical complex in the south of Georgia. In the 9th century, the chronicles referred to the city of Lomsia, which is translated from Georgian as “lion”). Already from that time there was some kind of fortification here. Later, in the 12th century, the influential Jakeli family built a castle on the territory of the fortress, the city was renamed Akhaltsikhe and became the center of the Samtskhe-Javakheti region with multinational quarters and lively trade. But from the 16th to the 19th century, the reinforced and expanded fortress turns into an impregnable strategic object of the Ottoman Empire. The name "rabat" has Arabic roots and means a settlement or trading quarter around the fortress. Therefore, calling the fortress as "Rabat" is not correct, since it is necessary to explain this discount of which fortress.

Sapara monastery complex
Sapara monastery complex

The monastery has existed since the 9th century. At the end of the 13th century, Sapara became the possession of the Jakeli family. The ruler of the principality, Sargis Jakeli, managed to maintain good relations with the Mongols by skillful diplomatic manipulations, which made his reign peaceful and further strengthened the position of the principality. At the end of his life, Sargis took monastic vows and changed his name to Saba (Sava). His son Beka built the largest of the 12 churches here, the Church of Saint Sava, named after his father's patron saint, one of the most architecturally significant churches of its time. Its 14th-century frescoes have been perfectly preserved to this day and are of great cultural importance as an example of the culture of that time. The frescoes depict, in particular, portraits of the Jakeli princes and in three registers scenes from the Old and New Testaments.
From the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 17th century, the Sapara Monastery was empty due to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in Samtskhe. In 1877-1878 the monastery was destroyed by Muslims, in 1893 it was restored.

Khertvisi Fortress
Khertvisi Fortress

This is one of the most ancient fortresses of the Georgian Middle Ages. It is located on a high rocky hill in a gorge at the confluence of the Kura and Paravan rivers. Chroniclers of the Middle Ages wrote in their chronicles that one of the first large cities of Georgia stood on this site, since it is mentioned in connection with the campaign and movement of part of the troops of Alexander the Great in the Caucasus. The bulk of the buildings of the complex that have survived to this day date back to the 10th-14th centuries, as well as small extensions of the 16th-18th centuries. The fortress of Khertvisi, as well as the fortress of Akhaltsikhe Rabat, was controlled by the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th century.

Vardzia cave complex
Vardzia cave complex

Vardzia is an outstanding monument of medieval Georgian architecture erected in the 12th - 13th centuries. Over 900 m along the left bank of the Kura, in the sheer tuff wall of the Erusheti mountain plateau, up to 600 rooms were carved: churches, chapels, residential cells, pantries, baths, refectories, treasuries, libraries. The premises of the complex go 50 meters deep into the cliff and rise to a height of eight floors. Secret passages have been preserved that connected the premises, the remains of the water supply system and the irrigation system. Since 1938 The complex has been declared an open-air museum reserve.


  • Professional guide service
  • Comfortable vehicle
  • 0,5 bottle of water per person
  • Lunch / Dinner service (it can be included in tour price up to additional request and paiment USD10 – USD 15 per person)
  • Entry tickets:
  • Akhaltsikhe Castle – USD10
  • Khertvisi Fortress – USD5
  • Vardzia complex – USD12


10 days
Full day (7+ hours)



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