Akhaltsikhe is a town in Southern Georgia, founded in Middle Ages. Its name means “a new fortress”, because the town’s fortress used to be the most important landmark of the region. In 1579 it was a center of a region of Ottoman Empire, then, during Russian – Turkish war in 1828 – 1829, it was brought back to Georgia, which used to be a part of Russian Empire.
Now, the huge freshly renovated fortress of Rabati remains the main landmark of Akhaltsikhe. Its upper part includes the castle of Jakeli family, where the Museum of Samtskhe-Javakheti region is situated; there are also an Akhmediye Mosque, an orthodox church, an amphitheatre and a citadel. The other part of Rabati includes touristic objects as hotels, cafes, restaurants, an information center, and even a marriage hall. It is a very beautiful place for a wedding ceremony and a romantic photo shooting, indeed!
Beside this, there are also several interesting places near Akhaltsikhe: an ancient fortress of Atskuri, which has been constructed in the X century, and also Saphara monastery, which kept its beauty even after the most difficult years in Georgian history.
If we talk about important landmarks of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, we can’t avoid mentioning Vardzia, an impressive cave town founded by King George III in the XII century. During its golden time it accommodated around 50.000 people. The infrastructure included living quarters, wine cellars, religious places like churches or monasteries, and even a library. There was even a sewerage system in the town! Hard to believe, that already in XII century far in the mountains people could live in such a developed town hewn in rocks… That’s why you have to go to Vardzia to see it with your own eyes!