What's on your mind?
cave city complex in Georgia
town in Georgia (country)
Armenia's 2nd largest city which once dwarfed Yerevan. Small old town area still shows earthquake damage from 1988.
– The highest inhabited region of Europe, centred around Mestia, is home to the mysterious Svans and is a UNESCO World Heritage site
the capital, and by far the largest city
The monastery was established in the tenth century, but the principal church, St. Sabas, was built sometime in the thirteenth century. Until the twentieth century, the monastery had been perfectly preserved, as its hidden location saved it from Ottoman discovery throughout the empire's three-century long control of southwestern Georgia. Alas, the Soviets found it, and abused it in the usual soulless fashion, albeit not to the same extent as many other Georgian Orthodox establishments—the frescoed walls were not whitewashed, and remain in good condition (especially following a recent restoration). During a visit, make sure to climb up the nearby slopes towards a rocky outcropping to get lovely views over the monastery and the valleys in the distance. Also make sure not to use flash photography in the churches, unless you want to see some seriously angry monks. If you can make yourself understood, you can overnight in the monastery's chambers.
historic province of Georgia
The Stalin Museum is the highlight of a visit to the city of Gori. Behind its faux-Venetian facade is an impressive museum filled with paraphernalia and media documenting the life and career of I.V. Jughashvili. The museum's portrayal of Stalin is one-sidedly nostalgic, which can be jarring for visitors, but the exhibits are actually quite well done and there are ample Georgian babushkas throughout the museum who will be more than happy to elaborate on the exhibits and answer questions. Unfortunately, the exhibits are overwhelmingly in Russian and Georgian, to the disadvantage of most Western visitors. But the main show requires no language—Stalin's death mask. Stalin's bronze death mask is not so exciting in and of itself, but the lighting and bizarre, personality cult-chic, red velvet display will surely elicit goose bumps. At the ticket office, ask about an English or German-speaking guide. Guided tours start regularly. They are sometimes available and will often show you the inside of Stalin's home and train car.
ancient rock-hewn town in Georgia
What's on your mind?