Kakhetians, whose culture was shaped by numerous conquerors, the Great Silk Road merchants and the indigenous population, meet tourists with warm hearts, the finest wine, and delightful Georgian feast – ‘Supra’. Accompanied by ‘Mravaljamieri’, a unique example of Georgian polyphony, they honor the guest and pray for the continuation of unity and peace.
Kakheti, one of the largest Georgian regions, is in the far-east of the country, neighboring Azerbaijan and Russia. Even though the first human movement on Kakhetian territory is dated back to the Neolithic Era (~6000 BC), Kakheti was not settled before XII century BC.
During its lengthy history, Kakheti, located at the crossroads of civilizations, religions, and the famous Silk Road was appealing to the countless conquerors, who shaped its culture in various ways.
Being the transit point between Asia and Europe was not enough for Georgians, who in response to the boosted trade increased production of domestic goods. Even though the oldest wine in the world was found in another Georgian region – Kvemo Kartli – Kakheti is still the standard-bearer of Georgian winemaking, with viticulture being a sacred agricultural endeavour. The Kakhetian climate is ideal for viticulture, making it the biggest producer of wine among all Georgian regions.
Individual entrepreneurs, as well as big companies, are investing in the wine-making potential of the region. Among traditional Georgian varieties of white and red wine are Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane and many more.
What to see in Kakheti:
- Telavi – the capital of Kakheti, 100km east of Tbilisi. The city is surrounded by various monasteries, including Ikalto, Vanta, and The view of the Alazani Valley from Telavi is spectacular.
- Ikalto Monastery – built in the 6th century by Zenon, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers, a group of Christian missionaries who established a monastic life in Georgia. In the 11th century, the Ikalto Academy was built, which remained the main educational institution of the region until the 17th century. Ikalto Monastery is 10km north-west of Telavi.
- Alaverdi Monastery – built in the 11th century by Kakhetian King Kvirike on the remains of the monastery established by Joseph, one of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers. It is one of the biggest cathedrals in the country, built on a cross-like foundation. In 2007, Alaverdi Monastery was listed as a Tentative Heritage Site by UNESCO. Alaverdi is 20km north-west of Telavi.
- Sighnaghi – the town is a fusion of traditional Georgian architecture and superb views of the Alazani Valley. Sighnaghi is 112km east of Tbilisi. Because of the magical atmosphere of the town, Sighnaghi is known as a City of Love, where many couples choose to spend their wedding days. The Sighnaghi Museum holds the permanent exhibition of Niko Pirosmani, a renowned self-taught artist whose works are sold at Sotheby’s.
- House Museum of Chavchavadze in Tsinandali – the chateau was presented to the noble Garsevan Chavchavadze by the King Erekle II. The first Georgian wine madeusing European methodology was bottled at Tsinandali Chateau. The mansion features European architecture, and is surrounded by an enormous garden, preserving numerous indigenous plants. The House Museum is 9km south-east of Telavi.
Best time to visit Kakheti: Late August – Late October
How to get to Kakheti:
- Tbilisi – Telavi (100km)
- Marshutka (minibus)
- Tbilisi – Sighnaghi (112km)