Explore Towns in Samtskhe-Javakheti
Bread Festival is an annual event held in the last week of October, in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Initially, it was initiated and organized by the Biological Farming Association “Elkana” and held in 2010 and 2011. In 2021 the Festival was organized together with “Elkana” and Samtskhe-Javakheti DMO. The festival aims to revive and promote indigenous varieties of wheat by involving as many farmers as possible in this activity and fostering collaborative short agri-food chains.
Usually, more than sixty local entrepreneurs take part in the festival by exhibiting their products. You can taste or buy delicious Meskhetian food and of course, bread, made from indigenous wheat varieties, and meet people and enjoy your time in Samtskhe-Javakheti.
Akhalkalaki lies on the edge of the Javakheti Plateau and is the administrative center of Akhalkalaki Municipality. The city is located about 30 kilometres from the border with Turkey. The majority of the population in Akhalkalaki is Armenian.
The name Akhalkalaki, first was recorded in the 11th-century Georgian chronicle, means “a new town”, from Georgian [ɑxɑli], “new”, and [kʰɑlɑkʰi], “city” or “town”.
In the town you can find all needed facilities such as healthcare, educational and cultural centers. The climate of Akhalkalaki is moderately humid with relatively cold dry winters and long cool summers.
Akhalkalaki was founded by Bagrat IV of Georgia in 1064. In 1066, the city was destroyed during the Seljuq invasions of the Kingdom of Georgia. In the 11th century Akhalkalaki became one of the political and economical centers of Javakheti.
Today, agriculture is most developed in the municipality, the leading field is farming. There are also food and agricultural enterprises in Akhalkalaki. The railway line connecting the Turkish and Georgian railways runs through this territory. This town is distinguished by its beautiful landscape, abundance of lakes and interesting cultural monuments. The travelers can also visit ancient castles and temples in the area.
Akhaltsikhe is the capital and biggest town of the region of Samtskhe-Javakheti, founded in the Middle Ages. Akhaltsikhe is a beautiful town with a rich and ancient history. Several roads leading to Tbilisi, Batumi, Borjomi, Gori, Kutaisi pass through the town. It is an administrative center of Akhaltsikhe Municipality and also the whole region of Samtskhe-Javakheti.
It is situated on the south-west of Georgia, not far from the border of Turkey, and has had a strategic significance lately as it was on the crossroad of highways. Its name means “a new fortress”, because the town’s fortress used to be the most important landmark of the region.
The history of Akhaltsikhe is more than a thousand years old. According to the written sources, the city was founded in the 12th century, though it is believed that the first large settlement already appeared here in the 10th century. It was then called Lomsiya, and was the residence of Jakeli princes who were having intestine strives and were even infringing on the central power of Georgia. It was this Prince family who erected this new fortress here that had given the name to the city. In the 14-15th centuries Akhaltsikhe was subject to destruction several times: in 1393 Tamerlane had passed this land with his army, and in 1486 it was burned by the army of a Mongol khan Jakub. Despite this, due to strategic significance and big trading routes, Akhaltsikhe would rise from ashes every time.
In 1579 it was a center of a region of the Ottoman Empire, then, during the Russian – Turkish war in 1828 – 1829, it was brought back to Georgia, which used to be a part of Russian Empire.
Five years ago Akhaltsikhe Castle (located in the ancient district of the town called Rabati), a huge fortress located on a small hill in the middle of the city was totally reconstructed and turned into a huge cultural and historical complex with an area of 7 hectares. It now remains the main landmark of Akhaltsikhe. This old medieval fortress was founded in the XIII century and since then it has been destroyed and restored several times after major military battles. Its upper part includes the castle of the Jakeli family, where the Museum of Samtskhe-Javakheti region is situated; there is also an Akhmediye Mosque, an orthodox church, an amphitheater and a citadel. The other part of Rabati includes touristic objects such 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!
Until the 19th century the Rabati area around the castle was all there was of Akhaltsikhe. It was celebrated for its ethnic and religious diversity and tolerance, in a frontier area where different empires, kingdoms and peoples met. Rabati today still has Georgian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches, a synagogue and a mosque, and the town still has a large Armenian population.
Besides Rabati, Akhaltsikhe also offers other interesting places, like a palace from the 13th/14th century, two synagogues, a Jewish cemetery and several mosques, most of them destroyed. As more than a quarter of the population in Akhaltsikhe is Armenian, there are also several Armenian churches in the city. There is an Armenian Catholic Church Surb Nshan on the small hill not far from the fortress built in the 15-16th centuries. You may find domes of abandoned sulfur baths in one of the quarters.
Aspindza which has the status of town since 1961 is the administrative center of Aspindza Municipality. The word “Aspindza” derives from a Persian word, which means “a place to rest”. The year of the foundation of the town is considered to be 888.
Aspindza is situated in the east side of Akhaltsikhe along the right bank of the river Mtkvari. The town has all kinds of administrative, cultural, educational and healthcare facilities.
The Municipality itself is famous for the number of cultural heritage sites there. You can find almost 300 cultural sites within the administrative borders of the municipality including Vardzia Cave City, Tmogvi Fortress, Khertvisi Fortress and many others. Moreover, except for culture and history, the town is also known for mineralized thermal waters, which have a positive effect on the locomotor and peripheral nervous systems.
Borjomi is the Administrative Center of Borjomi Municipality and lies almost between Akhaltsikhe-Tbilisi road. This town is famous for many reasons – mineral waters, endless evergreen forests, National Park, museums and so on. The best thing about this town is that it can be easily seen in one day. Most attractions, hotels, and restaurants are located in the center. Additionally, it is pretty close to the ski resort Bakuriani.
Borjomi has been closely connected with Bakuriani since the XIX century, after Borjomi mineral water became prominent for healing powers. This led to, in 1871, the Russian King Aleksandre II bestowing Borjomi gorge to his brother, Mikhail Romanov. During the reign of the Romanovs, there was a significant shift in the development of the gorge, where a mineral water bottling plant and holiday houses were built and the Borjomi-Bakuriani railway line was constructed, serving passengers on the unique “Kukushka” train.
One section of the Borjomi-Bakuriani railway line passes over a viaduct (train bridge) designed by the famous French engineer and architect Gustav Eiffel, and constructed by the Georgian engineer Besarion Keburia. The construction of the viaduct over the Tsemistskhali River began in 1897 and the first Borjomi-Bakuriani “Kukuska” train ran in January, 1902. The train is now exclusively a passenger service train used by skiers, tourists, and local residents. Today the renovated “Kukushka” is a symbol of the Borjomi gorge.
Borjomi is surrounded by many local resorts such as Tsaghveri, Tba, Libani, Tsemi, etc. There are a lot of cultural sites too.
Ninotsminda is a town south of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is an administrative center of Ninotsminda Municipality. Translation of the current official name means “Saint Nino” in English and it was given to the town in honor of the illuminator of Georgians St. Nino, in 1991. Before 1991, the town of Ninotsminda was called Bogdanovka – a name going back to the history of the Doukhobor settlement in the region in the 1840s.
This place and surrounding areas have a long history dating back to the Bronze Age. This proved with the facts discovered here, mainly megalithic buildings and remains of the settled places. Here every stone, every bridge and every tree retells the long and interesting story of the past.
Ninotsminda Municipality is not famous only for its cultural heritage but for natural diversity. One of the diverse National Parks with unique birdwatching possibilities is situated here.
There is a mountain steppe climate in Ninotsminda. Winters are cold, light snowy, summers are long and cool.
Nearly 95% of the population is Armenian.