Tourist’s guide to Telavi – the ancient city of winemaking in Georgia

Telavi (Georgia) – this small but incredibly cozy town with a population of only 20 thousand inhabitants is called the “heart” of Kakheti. Wine rivers flow here, hospitality reigns and hospitality, and the rare beauty of nature is fascinating. The heart of many tourists will forever remain in this amazing place. Let’s take a trip together in Telavi.

Telavi city, Georgia

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General information

The historical capital of Kakheti has been known since the 1st century AD, at that time it was a large center of trade located on the way of caravans that brought goods from the East.

Ikalto Monastery
Ikalto Monastery

The settlement is located in the north-east direction from the capital, in the Alazani Valley. The distance from Tbilisi to Telavi is 95 km (on the highway). The geographical location is unique – in the historical part of Georgia, between the valleys of two rivers, on the slopes of the picturesque Tsivi-Gomborsky ridge. Tourists note surprisingly clean and fresh air, because the settlement is located at an altitude of almost 500 m). The resort became popular after the release of the movie Mimino. Telavi is recognized as the country’s wine-making center, but in addition to wine production enterprises, other industrial sectors are actively developing here.

Panoramic view of Telavi

If you are not indifferent to the picturesque grandeur of nature, like to stroll through the ancient ruins and want to taste delicious Georgian wine, Telavi is waiting for you.

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The city’s attractions

Alaverdi Monastery Complex

Alaverdi Monastery ComplexAlaverdi Monastery Complex

Among the sights of Telavi, the Alaverdi monastery complex is recognized as the most striking. On its territory is one of the highest cathedrals in the country – St. George. To date, the issue of including the cathedral on the UNESCO World Heritage List is being considered.

Alaverdi was founded by Christian missionaries who came to Georgia. The cathedral was built by the monarch Kvirike III in the first half of the 11th century. As a result of military events and earthquakes, the building was destroyed and rebuilt many times, and in 1929 the complex was completely destroyed by the Soviet government.

St. George's Cathedral 

 

St. George’s Cathedral

Today in the complex you can visit the Cathedral of St. George, buildings of economic importance, a wine cellar. Despite the destruction, the attraction retained its original appearance, unfortunately, many icons and church valuables were lost. Nevertheless, Alaverdi is a vivid example of ancient Georgian architecture.

The cathedral is located 20 km from the city of Telavi, 10 km from the Telavi-Akhmeta highway. It is most convenient to get here by personal or rented car. Entrance to the territory is free.

Gremy Castle

Located near the city of Telavi. The castle was built on the banks of the Incoba. Here you can see:

  • Church of the Archangels;
  • the bell tower;
  • palace.
Gremy Castle photo

Unfortunately, little has been preserved from the majestic and once luxurious city, which stood on the Great Silk Road and was famous during the Middle Ages. The palace may be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

In the middle of the 15th century, Gremi received the status of the state capital of Kakheti, and the temple was considered the center of Christianity. At the beginning of the 17th century, the city was destroyed by Iranian soldiers and the city of Telavi received the status of the capital.

Church of the Archangels 

 

Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel

On the territory of the ancient castle you can see:

  • fortress walls, which are an original architectural ensemble;
  • burial place of king Levan;
  • ruins – a market, houses, baths, pools;
  • ancient wine cellar;
  • ancient underground passage;
  • a palace in which there is a museum.
Frescoes on the walls in the Church of the Archangels

The temple is active, services are held here, inside it is decorated with unique frescoes, images of monarchs and the faces of saints.

The castle is open every day (closed on Monday). Opening hours from 11-00 to 18-00. You can get there by any transport that follows from Kvareli towards Telavi. The distance to Tbilisi is almost 150 km. The cost of tickets varies, so it’s better to check on the site.

Dzveli Shuamta or Old Shuamta

Another bright attraction in Telavi (Georgia), located in the Gombori Mountains. The date of foundation of the monastery is unclear.

Dzveli Monastery Shuamta

From an architectural point of view, a landmark is three ancient temples built between the 5th and 7th centuries. They are located in a picturesque forest glade. It is incredibly quiet and calm, breathing easily, tourists often stop for a picnic. To get to the monasteries, you need to follow the Telava highway along a dirt road 2 km.

  • Basilica The hall church with gates in opposite walls, thanks to this the building can be passed through and faced with the next building – the cross temple.
  • The big monastery. Construction – an exact repetition of Jvari, the differences are only in size and lack of decoration. This is one of the first domed monasteries in Kakheti. An interesting fact – a few years ago the dome was pyramidal, but today it is completely flat. Who and for what reasons has changed the architecture of the building is unknown.
  • Small monastery. The building looks pretty simple and even boring. Nevertheless, there are several monasteries with similar architecture in the country.

Getting to Old Shuamta is easy. There is a sign on the Telav highway. Moving from Telavi, focus on the hotel with the name “Chateau Mere”, after a few kilometers, turn to the sights. If you are coming from the capital, turn 5.5 km after the bridge over the Turdo River. Admission is free – come and take a walk.

Kvevri and Wine Jug Museum

Kvevri and Wine Jug Museum

You can dilute walks in monasteries and temples by visiting the colorful, private museum of the Kvvri and Vin Kuvshins, which is located in the small village of Napareuli. The founders of the museum are the twin brothers Gia and Gela, who revived family winemaking traditions. They created the Twins Wine House company.

The museum is chamber, cozy and very interesting. The whole process of production of a traditional alcoholic drink of Georgia is clearly demonstrated here. Believe me, after visiting this attraction you will feel like an expert in winemaking.

Kvevri in the context

The original exhibit is a huge jug – qvevri, inside which you can go. It tells amazing stories about wine jugs, about the features of their use in Georgia. The dishes are made by hand, it is a long and painstaking process. It is necessary to correctly choose clay, to prepare it in a special way. The production process takes place in enclosed spaces with constant climatic conditions. Pitchers are burned, covered with beeswax and lime and only after that they are lowered into the cellar into a specially prepared pit. Now go to the preparation of grapes. Wine is stored in a sealed container for 5 to 6 months. After that, two drinks are scooped out of qvevri – wine and chacha.

In the museum you can not only see everything clearly, but also taste and purchase alcoholic beverages.

Getting to the museum is easy – follow Telavi heading north along Routes 43 and 70. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes. As for the cost of visiting, it depends on what services you are interested in:

  • Museum inspection – 17 GEL ($ 6.7);
  • wine tasting – 17 GEL;
  • participation in the grape harvest – 22 GEL ($ 7.5).

Batonis Ciche Fortress

Batonis Ciche Fortress 

 

Batonis Ciche Fortress

If you want to know what to see in Telavi, be sure to pay attention to the heart of this hospitable city – the Batonis-tsikhe fortress. The architectural landmark was built in the 17th century and was originally the residence of the monarchs of Kakheti. Translated from Georgian, the name of the fortress means – the fortress of the master. On the territory of the historical complex you can see:

  • fortress fence;
  • palace;
  • churches;
  • ancient bathhouse;
  • picture gallery;
  • ethnographical museum.

Also here is an amazing monument to the previously reigning monarch Heraclius II.

The fortification of Batonis-tsikhe

The fortress is located at the address – Telavi city (Georgia), Irakli II street, 1. The historical complex is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10-00 to 18-00. Entrance will cost:

  • an adult in 2 lari (a little less than 1 dollar);
  • student in 1 lari (about $ 0.5);
  • a student at 0.5 GEL (about 0.2 dollars).

Telavi Wine Cellar

Located in the Kakheti region near Telavi. Various wines characteristic of Georgia are produced and bottled here – Tsinandali, Akhasheni, Vazisubani, Kindzmarauli.

Telavi wine cellar

The history of the company began in 1915 and until now the production technology is based on ancient winemaking traditions. The wine is stored and infused in earthenware – quwera buried in the ground. Today it is a modern, modernized company, where old recipes and technologies are combined finely with sophisticated, innovative equipment. Here, the recipes of Georgian wine and European recipes are skillfully interwoven – they insist on alcohol in oak barrels.

The pride of the wine cellar is the Talisman collection. The wines for this collection are made from the finest grapes hand-picked.

Telavsky wine cellar is located in the village of Kurdgelauri.

Climate and weather

It is important! Given that the city is located at an altitude of almost 500 meters, it is always fresh and incredibly clean air. Telavi colors are especially bright and saturated.Telavi has a mild, warm climate, you can relax here all year round. You will always be met by hospitable people and pleasant weather. The air temperature in summer is from +22 to +25 degrees. Warm weather lasts from April to October. In winter, the minimum air temperature is 0 degrees. The rainiest months are May and June.

How to get to Telavi

To get to Telavi, you first have to fly by plane to Tbilisi. Then you have the following ways to get from Tbilisi to Telavi.

1 – By bus

Tbilisi Airport 

 

Tbilisi Airport

From the airport building, drive to Isani Metro Station – from here there is a minibus to Telavi. Minibuses depart as they are full. The fare is 8 GEL. The journey takes approximately 2.5 hours.

2- By car

Another possible way to get to Telavi is to rent a taxi from Isani Station. One way travel will cost 35-45 GEL. The road takes only 1.5 hours, as drivers choose a short way, go straight through the mountain pass, while minibus drivers follow the detour.

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Means of transport in Kakheti

The most comfortable way to travel around Kakheti and the Alazani Valley by your own transport. Many tourists prefer to ride a car or even a motorcycle. If you do not have your own transport, you can use other methods.

Telavi Old Town
  1. Minibuses – The slowest and inconvenient transport, as a fixed-route taxi goes irregularly.
  2. Hitch-hiking – A very convenient and quick way, especially when you consider that in Georgia the practice of hitchhiking is common. If you are sociable and courageous enough, you can easily see all the sights not only in Telavi and its environs, but throughout Georgia.
  3. Join a group tour to Georgia – can be purchased online, at tour agency offices or the hotel where you stay.
  4. Pay a local – You can try looking for a car with a driver who agrees to arrange a sightseeing tour for you. The average cost of a trip will cost from 100 to 150 GEL.
  5. Consult your hosts – If you live in a private house, the owners can help find transport and a driver.
  6. With a taxi – Just go to any taxi driver in the city and arrange a trip.

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A trip to Telavi (Georgia) is a trip to a surprisingly beautiful place, the world of ancient architecture, the warm sun and friendly people. Telavi is the center of Georgian winemaking, only here you will learn all the nuances of making wine and try it. Come and enjoy.

 

 


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