Route Length: 2.2 km.
Route Duration: 1 hrs. 10 min.
Min./Max. Height: 1113/1446m.
Total Ascent/Descent: 356/25 m.
Route Type: Connecting
Difficulty level: Moderate
The route starts in the village Nijgori , at the conjunction of Vardzia highway. Through the centuries-old mulberry orchards the itinerary leads the travelers to the village Old Nijgori. The place at first glimpse reminds a frozen in time medieval village. Old Nijgori often is referred as ‘Marnebi’ by the locals, which means cellars. It is a unique architectural settlement, built on nine terraces. It is designed so that one’s Bani (flat roof of tamped earth) serves as a yard for the other. Old Nijgori used to be a shelter for the peasants, who due to climatic conditions, had fruit orchards planted on the banks of the Mtkvari and spent days away from home. Hence they had set a perfect rural infrastructure in Nijgori.
The trail exits the village, crosses the water stream and winds uphill on a steep slope.
‘A Great Resting Spot’ is set in between the Cellars and Saro Forts. According to a tradition this was a dream spot for exhausted passengers to stop for a moment and take a breath.The massive stones placed there as chairs perfectly serve this purpose.
The trail goes through the Saro outcrops. During the journey the utter silence of deep ravine time after time is revived by the burble of running water from the heights. This is a historical trail, which for centuries was used by the local people of Saro-Khizabavara to harvest their gardens and vineyards planted along the Mtkvari valley.
A shortcut trail heads towards the Saro Fort, bypasses the Monastery fence and enters the historic village of Saro, which till today boasts traditional Meskhetian semi-underground dwellings. This type of dwelling is called ‘Darbazuli Sakhli’- the Hall House, due to its specific structure. For traditional Hall House it was a must to have a main room – hall – which was designed to fold in its walls ritual-like gatherings of the whole multigenerational family. Remarkable is the phenomenon of the hall ceiling, which was built without a single nail, by joining the wood directly to wood – a method of joinery which eventually formed a pyramid-like century-lasting roof structure. Archeologists call this kind of ceiling – the crown, but the locals – a swallow’s ceiling, as flying swallows frequently used to make nests in the corners of the ceiling. At the very top of the ceiling there is left an opening ‘Erdo’ which is the only source of light. The evenly distributed dim light coming from above, the symmetrical cuts of dark wood, and the swallows huddled in the corners, create mesmerizing exposition of the Meskhetian house.
Just 50 meters away from the village, on a mountain outcrop, there are scattered impressive remnants of the cyclopean fortress Saro. The complex, distinguished by the absolute symmetry of stone set, represents one of the most important monuments of the megalithic culture. While the tombs, leftovers of ancient dwellings or cult shrines found in its vicinity testimony that life has been flourishing in Samtskhe-Javakheti since the Bronze Age.
The itinerary comes to an end near the Archangel Church of Saro.