Distance from Tbilisi: 80 km
Hours to drive: 1 hour 20 minutes
Best time to visit: spring, summer, autumn, winter
Kakheti is the most important wine region in Georgia in quantitative, qualitative and even historic terms. Almost three-quarters of the country's wine grapes are grown here, on land that has been used for viticulture for thousands of years. In June 2013, when Russia lifted its seven-year ban on Georgian wine imports, the first wines across the border were from Kakheti wineries.
Kakheti is home to some of the oldest human habitations in the entire Caucasus region, and archaeological findings have suggested that wine has been produced here for several thousand years. The region's strong relationship with wine and vine was captured in Georgia's famous hymn 'Thou Art a Vineyard', written in the 12th Century by Demetrius I – a king known for his writing and poetry – during his time at the David Gareja monastery in southern Kakheti (very close to Georgia's border with Azerbaijan). Demetrius dedicated the work to the region's fertility, and it remains an important part of Georgian heritage today.
Sighnaghi is a small town in the east of Georgia situated on the mountainside in the historical region of Kakheti. It was founded in the 17th century during the reign of King Heraclius II of Georgia, and as locals say, it is the only city in Georgia that has fully preserved the fortress walls that are crowned with watchtowers, where one can climb to get the magnificent view of the Alazani valley.
The Monastery of St. Nino at Bodbe - is a Georgian Orthodox monastic complex and the seat of the Bishops of Bodbe located 2 km from the town of Sighnaghi, Kakheti, Georgia. Originally built in the 9th century, it has been significantly remodeled, especially in the 17th century. The monastery now functions as a nunnery and is one of the major pilgrimage sites in Georgia, due to its association with St. Nino, the 4th-century female evangelist of Georgians, whose relics are shrined there.
Gremi is a 16th-century architectural monument – the royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels – in Kakheti, Georgia. The complex is what has survived from the once flourishing town of Gremi .Standing above the green valley of Alazan, Gremi attracts travelers whose road goes between Telavi and Kvareli. The architectural ensemble of Gremi in the look that it has up to present day was built in the 16th century in the times of King Levan of Kakheti, who announced Gremi the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti.
Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery.While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George. The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph (Yoseb, Amba) Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former pagan religious center dedicated to the Moon. At a height of over 55 meters, Alaverdi Cathedral is the second tallest religious building in Georgia, after Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi. Its overall size is also smaller than the cathedral of Svetitskhoveli in Mtskheta. The monastery is the focus of the annual religious celebration Alaverdoba. Situated in the heart of the world's oldest wine region, the monks also make their own wine, known as Alaverdi Monastery Cellar.
Nekresi - is a historic town in Kakheti. The town was established by king Pharnajom (around 2nd-1st centuries BC). In the 4th century AD, king Thrdat built a church in this place. This church became a refuge to one of the Assyrian fathers, Abibus, in the late 6th century. Around this time Diocese of Nekresi was established, which existed until the 19th century.
Ujarma - is a fortress-town .The fortress is one of the most important Georgian architectural monuments of Early Middle Ages, due to its strategic location and value in the past. It was built in the 3rd century AD, as one of the Georgian kings’ and prince’s main residencies. From 5th through to 6th centuries AD the Ujarma fortress saw its highest prosperity period during the reign of King Vakhtang Gorgasali and his son Dachi.
Ikalto monastery was founded by Saint Zenon, one of the 13 Syrian Fathers, in the late 6th century. It was known as one of the most significant cultural-scholastic centres of Georgia. An academy was founded at the monastery during king David the Builder by Arsen Ikaltoeli (Ikaltoeli meaning from Ikalto) in the early 12th century.There are three churches on the monastery grounds – Khvtaeba, Kvelatsminda and Sameba. The main church, Khvtaeba (Holy Spirit), was built in the 8th–9th century on the site of an older church (in which Saint Zenon had been buried). In 1616 the Persian invaders led by Shah Abbas I set the Ikalto Academy on fire and it ceased to exist.
Dzveli (‘Old’) and Akhali (‘New’) Shuamta Monasteries. Both of them stand in a forest of deciduous trees which makes them look even more fascinating. These two monasteries absolutely differ from each other in architecture and were built at different times.
The architectural ensemble Dzveli Suamta is situated 7km of Telavi. Its consists of a 5th century basilica, one of the most curious examples of Christian Georgian architecture; a 17th century domed church of a type close to the Mtskheta Jvari Church but of a smaller size (with a smaller depth of the apses; an increased significance of the dome drum and a more pronounced design of the tromps); a small 7th century domed church which is also of a cross design in plan, but without corner rooms and with equal axes. The church was built of cobblestones; the corner was faced with hewn stones. In the 16th century Zveli Shuamta Monastery was abandoned. Not far from it a new, Akhali Shuamta Monastery was built by Tinatin Gurieli, the wife of King Levan II (1520-1574). The Church had a dome and was designed in the form of a cross in plan. It was built of brick; the inner walls were decorated with paintings and some of the portraits of the founders have been preserved. The Church was restored by Irakli II. The complex includes also a bell-tower and some minor buildings. A Chavchavadze was buried here.
Kvetera Church - is a Georgian Orthodox church in a historic fortified town of Kvetera in Kakheti. Kvetera Church was built in the early part of the 10th century. It is a relatively small church and resembles the Georgian cross-dome style of architecture. The dome rests on a round tympanum and rises over the central square pace. The Projections end in an apse, which have niches between them. The facade of the church is not designed with a lot of ornaments which is typical for Kakhetian churches. Most of the facade is decorated with symmetrical arches.
Town of Kvetera used to one of the center of the Principality of Kakheti. According to Vakhushti Bagrationi, Kvetera dates back at least to 8th century AD. It is also mentioned in the written document from the 11th century.