Vardzia is one of the essential places to visit in Georgia. It is the largest cave town in the country and was built between the 12th and 13th centuries in the bowels of Mount Erusheti. There are a whopping 1,800 caves in the town and experts say that in the period of their greatest splendor, these caves could accommodate 50,000 people.
Unfortunately, in 1283 an earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the city and today there are only about 600 caves 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 believers staying here 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, and 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 to here. From Akhaltsikhe, the distance is 37 miles.
Lately, some B & B have been opened in the area. There are enough attractions in the area so why not stay a couple of days?
Opening Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Price. 3 GEL.
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 mention the other 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).
- 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.
Medium Price Lodging
Valodia Cottage Hotel
Phone: +995 595 642346 // +995 5 99 11 62 07
It is in the vicinity of Vardzia and is a haven of peace along the river. It is a comfortable place, a mixture of farm and hotel, with a beautiful and huge garden. It has comfortable, bright, clean and relaxing rooms with private bathrooms (individual: 78 GEL, double: 115 GEL, triple: 140 GEL, lux: 210 GEL).
The family that runs the business is very nice and they will help you out as much as you need. They grow vegetables themselves and the fish they serve is from the river next door, so make the most of them. They are also beekeepers. The complex houses different buildings. It is located a couple of miles from Vardzia. Price double room: 75 GEL.