Vardzia: explore the city carved out of the mountain

Vardzia: explore the city carved out of the mountain

Vardzia

Vardzia is one of the essential visits. It is the largest cave town in Georgia. It was built between the 12th and 13th centuries in the bowels of Mount Erusheti. It came to have a whopping about 1,800 caves and experts say that in the period of greatest splendor could accommodate 50,000 people.

Unfortunately, in 1283 an earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the city and today there are only about 600 rooms of various sizes. After the catastrophe, Vardzia was transformed into a monastery. Today it is three miles long and thirteen floors.

Monastic life has returned to the place, although the number of religious is very small. It has twelve chapels. In the center of the complex is the most important of all: the Church of the Assumption. It is a lugubrious temple; beautiful but enigmatic, with murals about saints, scenes from Georgia, Queen Tamara…

Its passageways are labyrinthine and they are sometimes a little claustrophobic. The city had its own wineries, beds, niches, water supply, pharmacy, cells for monks and other spaces. Typically, people usually make day trips from Borjomi or Akhaltsikhe. From the latter, the distance is 37 miles.

Lately, some B & B have been opened in the area, which offers enough attractions to stay a couple of days.

Opening Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Price. 3 GEL.

History

Almost the whole complex was built between 1156 and 1202. King George III started the works and Queen Tamara finished them. The 1282 earthquake collapsed 70% of the buildings and then it began to function as a monastery. In 1551 the Persians sacked it and in 1578, after the invasion of the Ottomans, Vardzia was deserted. In 1938 the monument received the status of the Sanctuary Museum by the Soviet authorities.

The secrets of Vardzia

The surroundings of Vardzia hide some treasures that make more and more people decide to stay for a few days. Aside from the tranquility and beauty of the area, we must add jewels such as the fortresses of Tmogvi and Khervitsi, or the caves of Vani. There are also some interesting routes for hiking. Another popular place is the sulfurous water pools that are one mile away from Vardzia (3 GEL/hour).

Useful information about Vardzia

Transportation

  • Vardzia-Akhaltsikhe: 8:00, 9:00, 3:00, 6:00 p.m.
  • A round trip taxi from Akhaltsikhe is around 60 GEL, and from Borjomi: 120 GEL.
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