About Samtskhe-Javakheti

//About Samtskhe-Javakheti
About Samtskhe-Javakheti 2016-12-04T17:27:38+00:00

Samtskhe-JavakhetiGeneral information

Samtskhe-Javakheti is one of the largest regions of Georgia. Its total area comprises 6 421 sq/km and its capital and administrative center is the town Akhaltsikhe. To the north-west, the region is bordered by Guria and Imereti; to the north – by region Shida Kartli; to the east by Kvemo Kartli; to the south by Armenia and Turkey and to the west by Adjara. Samtskhe-Javakheti region consists of six districts: Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, Aspindza, Akhalkalaki, and Ninotsminda. The region is ethnically diverse with a mix of Georgians, Armenians, Greeks, Ossetians, Russians and Ukrainians. Samtskhe-Javakheti is the oldest historic territory of Georgia and is considered as the cradle of Georgian culture. The ancient Georgian tribes dwelled in this territory. St. Nino of Capadoccia, the convertor of Georgia to Christianity, entered the country with a holy cross made of vine stems tied by her own hair via the misty mountains of Javakheti. According to literary data and folk narrative, it is the birth place of the most famous Georgian poet – Shota Rustaveli – the area where the unique masterpieces of Georgian culture were born. Samtskhe-Javakheti territory encompasses a part of Meskheti, Javakheti and Tori.


Samtskhe-JavakhetiCivilization began here some 4 000 years ago, when a major tribal union arose known as “Diaokhi”. From VI to IV centuries BC, Samtskhe-Javakheti was a part of the Georgian kingdom Iberia (Kartli) which constituted the territory of eastern and southern Georgia. In the XII century “the golden age” – during the renaissance of Georgian statehood, the great king David IV The Builder, consolidated Meskheti leading to a cultural revival of the country and this region. During the mid XIII century ferocious Mongol hordes invaded Georgia and took control. They were followed by a Turkish invasion, pursuing policy of Islamization. Some Georgians adopted Islam; others escaped it by migration to Kartli and Imereti. Throughout the XIX century, Georgia’s population grew considerably as Christian Armenians fled from Islamic Turkey. As a result of this history there are unique of different cultural influences as seen in the architecture and monuments.


Most ethnic Georgians associate themselves with the Georgian Orthodox church, some Georgians are Catholics. In the XVI-XVII cc. Islamization of the region commenced. According to a concordance between Turkish and Roman Catholic Church, the Turks could not oppress the Roman Catholics. In order to preserve the Christian faith, some Georgians staying in the region turned to Roman Catholicism. Armenians of the region, mostly belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church. In addition, there are small number of ethnic Russian believers from two dissident Orthodox schools: the Molokans Staroveri (Old believers) and Dukhobors.

Vardzia - Samtskhe-JavakhetiLocal Architecture

The villages and abandoned dwelling places of Meskheti have preserved many architectural monuments and household goods depicting the ancient way of life. These complexes prevailing in Samtskhe-Javakheti represent the culture of Darbazi – peasant dwellings, which existed in Colchis as early as the I century AD and were even common in the beginning of the XX century. Each building is one-storey, usually placed upon a mountain slope or hill, with three walls reaching into the earth. The main factors here are interior and roofing so called crown, consisting of horizontally placed wooden piles, arranged in a steeple. A hole is left on its peak for air and light. The crown is square. Below the crown is a hearth where, meals were cooked. The dwelling could also house a Meskhetian bakery/bread oven; the hollow deposit for the grain which, in some cases, could hold two tons of wheat and stone press and stone cut basin to store cheese.


Constant attacks by enemies and the population’s struggle for survival created a system of underground dwellings and shelters, the so-called Darani. Daranis represented cell-like shelters interconnected through a complex system of tunnels. They were fitted with an air and water supply network. Entrances to Daranis are still seen in the villages Kuleti, Ipnieti, Shalosheti, Lepisi, Khizabavra as well as in many other old dwelling sites.

Interesting places

Ude catholic church - Samtskhe-JavakhetiChurches and monasteries

Upper Tmogvi and Javakheti Samtskhe-JavakhetiNational parks and natural monuments


  • Slesa fortress
  • Atskuri fortress
  • Rabati fortress
  • Okro (“golden”) fortress
  • Khertvisi fortress
  • Saro tree fortresses
  • Tmogvi fortress
  • Abuli fortress
  • Shaori fortress
  • “Darns” in Lepisi
  • “Darns” in Khizabavra
  • “Baiebi” complex

Paravani lake - Samtskhe-JavakhetiHistorical villages

  • Uraveli
  • Zveli
  • Khizabavra
  • Saro
  • Upper Tmogvi
  • Agara
  • Lepisi

Resort places

  • Borjomi
  • Likani
  • Tsagveri
  • Bakuriani
  • Abastumani


Main transport to the region is minibuses. From Tbilisi Didube bus station every day are leaving minibuses to Borjomi, Adigeni, Abastumani, Akhaltsikhe, Aspindza, Vardzia and Akhalkalaki. In Akhaltsikhe bus station traveler can find minibuses to almost any village of the region.

Where to stay

List of guesthouses of Samtskhe-Javakheti.

Tours in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Map of Samtskhe-Javakheti

Samtskhe-Javakheti карта

  • Upper Vardzia

Upper Vardzia monastery

December 27th, 2014|0 Comments

Another spiritual currently known as Zeda  (upper)  Vardzia that is earlier compared to Vardzia Monastery is located north-westward of the latter, in the middle of a small gorge,  upstream the Kura River, its main construction

National parks of Georgia list

December 24th, 2014|0 Comments

National parks of Georgia - еhere are up to 30 protected and planed protected areas in Georgia, totally it is 7% of whole territory of the country. Each one is created to protect local natural

  • Jeep tour in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Jeep tour in Samtskhe-Javakheti

December 24th, 2014|Comments Off on Jeep tour in Samtskhe-Javakheti

Samtskhe-Javakheti – historical heart of ancient Georgia. Region is very reach with historical monuments and many of them are hard to reach by regular transport. Region has also big variety of different landscapes – mountains

Jeep tours in Samtskhe-Javakheti

December 23rd, 2014|0 Comments

Jeep tour in Uraveli gorge - Visitors to this area become acquainted with the oldest villages of Meskheti where historic, cultural and ethnographical monuments are preserved.

Saro - Varevani - Toki - Javakheti plateau is one of the most interesting and attractive areas to visit, with valleys, flields full of colourful flowers, a great number of historic and cultural sights and natural monuments. In the villages there are many typical Meskhi houses, terraces, irrigation canals.

Ninotsminda - Saghamo lake - Poka - Paravani lake - Abuli fortress - Shaori fortress - Samsari monastery - At 1500-2000 meters above sea level, the Javakheti plateau offers a wide range of sights including sweeping grassland plains, high craggy mountain peaks, deep canyons and river gorges, broadwetlands and numerous fresh water alpine lakes. The trade routes between Armenia and Bizantium went through this area. Lakes to be visited include Saghamo and Paravani.