Region of fortress cities - land keeping many secrets
Archaeological researches elucidated the fact that here people had lived since oldest, ancient epoch which is evidenced by the old settlements and burial places are kept till now.
Samtskhe-Javakheti is rich in oldest historic monuments and modern popular resort cities. Numerous monasteries and fortresses are of strategic meaning in the region. It is astonishing to see the city of Vardzia dated XII century, engraved in the rock which plays great role in political and cultural life. There is resort Borjomi in this region, known to everyone with its mineral water and ski-boarding resort Bakuriani. Between Borjomi and Bakuriani short railway line is lead out which small sized train “Kukushak” moves on. Just imagine the train traffic in most beautiful ravines and magic beauty of these ravines, short but unforgettable trip. It is Tsagveri and Likani to be mentioned from recreational complexes where the Palace of Romanovs is located and where Ioseb Stalin used to have rest often.
Samtskhe–Javakheti, is a region in southern Georgia which includes the historical Georgian provinces of Meskheti, Javakheti and Tori. Akhaltsikhe is its capital. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the South Caucasus natural gas pipeline, and the Kars–Tbilisi–Baku railway pass through the region.
History of Meskheti and Javakheti:
Meskheti: – The ancient tribes of Meskhi (or Moschi) and Mosiniks are the first known inhabitants of the area. Some scholars credit the Mosiniks (or Mossynoeci) with the invention of iron metallurgy. From the 2nd millennium to the 4th century BC, Meskheti was believed to be part of the Kingdom of Diauehi, in the 4th century BC to the 6th century AD part of the Kingdom of Iberia. From the 10th to the 15th century it was part of the united Georgian Kingdom. In the 16th century Meskheti was integrated into the Safavid Empire, followed by the Ottoman Empire. After the conclusion of the Russo-Persian War of 1826-28, it was a part of Russian Tiflis Governorate from 1817 till 1829, from 1918 to 1921 part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia, and from 1921 to 1990 part of the Georgian SSR. After independence from the USSR Meskheti was reinstalled as a province of Georgia, and later cast into the new Samtskhe–Javakheti region.
Javakheti: – In ancient sources, the region was recorded as Zabakha in 785 BC, by the king Argishti I of Urartu. According to Cyril Toumanoff, Javakheti was part of the Iberian duchy of Tsunda from the 4th or 3rd century BC. Saint Nino entered Iberia from Javakheti, and, following the course of the River Kura, she arrived in Mtskheta, the capital of the kingdom, once there, she eventually began to preach Christianity, which culminated by Christianization of Iberia.
In struggle against the Arab occupation, Bagrationi dynasty came to rule over Tao-Klarjeti and established the Kouropalatate of Iberia. rulers of Tao-Klarjeti fought the Arabs from there, gradually incorporating the surrounding lands of Samtskhe and Javakheti, along with a few other lesser lands, from the Arab dominance. For a long time the region became a cultural safe-house and one of the most important religious centers of Georgia.
In the mid-10th century, Javakheti was incorporated into Kingdom of Abkhazia. In 964 Leon III of Abkhazia extended his influence to Javakheti, during his reign was built Kumurdo Cathedral. In subsequent centuries, Javakheti was integral part of unified Georgian monarchy and had a period of significant development: lot of bridges, churches, monasteries, and royal residences (Lgivi, Ghrtila, Bozhano, Vardzia) were built. From the 11th century, the center of upper Javakheti became Akhalkalaki. From the 10th century, the center of lowland Javakheti was Tmogvi. From the 12th century, the domain was ruled by representatives of the feudal family of Toreli.
In the 15th century, Javakheti was incorporated to principality of Samtskhe-Saatabago. In the 16th century, the region, as well as the adjacent territories of western Georgia, was occupied by the Ottoman Empire. The Georgian population of Javakheti was displaced to inner regions of Georgia such as Imereti and Kartli. Those who remained gradually became Muslim.
As a result of the struggles of the Russian Empire with the Ottomans, Russian authorities settled Christian Armenians and Caucasus Greeks in the area after 1828. Armenian refugees from the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire came in the early 20th century. Also a large number of Russian Doukhobor sect members settled the region.
What to visit
(XII-XIII centuries) – monastery complex engraved in rock. “If enemy couldn’t have known the dislocation place for King Tamar, there were three hundred sixty-five rooms distinguished as King Tamar had ordered, so many rooms as the days are per year; each day each room was distinguished and construction ended in one year.”
(X century) – one of the fortresses which is hard to take over is built on rocky mountain. Due to the characteristic features of relief, its borders are erected to various heights. In sources it is firstly met in X century. It controlled the road coming from Asia to Georgia through the Gorge of Mtkvari.
Fortress of Medieval Ages on high rocky mountain. Since October 24th 2007, Khertvisi together with Vardzia Monastery is included in the test list of World Inheritance of UNESCO. History writer Leonti Mroveli who should rely upon the verbal tradition, states that in 20ies of IV century B.C. Alexander from Macedonia during his crusade to East visited Khertvisi together with other fortress cities of Georgia.
Borjomi is balneology and climatic resort. Here family members of Russian Emperor, state and cultural workers used to have rest: Maxim Gorki, Peter Chaikovsky, Ioseb Stalin, Giorgi Dimitrov and others. There is mineral water bottling factory is well known in Borjomi. Other small enterprises and cultural institutions are located here (Theatre, Museum of Local Areas).
Water “Borjomi”mineral water from volcanic origin goes up to surface from 8-10 km depth. In difference with the mineral water, it is late in cooling down under ground and comes out of surface in warm condition (38-41°С) which enriches by 60 various mineral compositions existing in mountains of Caucasus. The results of the Borjomi water analysis show that deeply mineralized, modern fresh and low mineralized waters play their role in its formation.
Borjomi mineral waters have been discovered yet in the beginning of first millennium A.D. This is evidenced by 7 stone baths discovered in XX century. As it seems the water of Borjomi of that period was used for exactly the baths and not for drinking purposes. Archaeological materials obtained in Borjomi evidences that mineral water was used till the end of XVI century. The clay pipes of medieval ages are found, which were driven to several springs in Borjomi. As a result of wars taking place in XVI-XVIII centuries the existence of springs was forgotten for many years and those places where these springs are, have been left.
well-known ski-boarding resort and center of international meaning is located 1700 meters from sea level, 30 km from Borjomi and 180 km from Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Bakuriani is ski-boarding resort, main factors for treatment are: mountain air, long-term sunshine and X-ray beams of high activity; people here treat from lymphadenitis, chronicle non tuberculosis diseases of respiratory system and blood anemia. Real paradise of ski-sport Bakuriani – represents the winter sport center of international meaning. Skis, snowboards, snow motorcycles, horses, sledges – are wonderful for sportsmen or those who are fond of active relaxation. Bakuriani valleys are covered with pine forests. Botanic garden of Bakuriani is located on the nearby territories of the city.