Distance from Tbilisi: 230 km
Hours to drive: 2 hours 30 minutes
Best time to visit: spring, summer, autumn, winter
Kutaisi (ancient names: Aea/Aia, Kotais, Kutatisi, Kutaïsi) is the legislative capital of Georgia, and its 3rd most populous city. Situated 221 kilometres (137 miles) west of Tbilisi, it is the capital of the western region of Imereti.
Kutaisi was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis. Archaeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the kingdom of Colchis in the sixth to fifth centuries BC. Several historians believe that, in Argonautica, a Greek epic poem about Jason and the Argonauts and their journey to Colchis, author Apollonius Rhodius considered Kutaisi their final destination as well as the residence of King Aeëtes. From 978 to 1122 CE, Kutaisi was the capital of the united Kingdom of Georgia, and from the 15th century until 1810, it was the capital of the Imeretian Kingdom. In 1508, the city was conquered by Selim I, who was the son of Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Gelati - is a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi, in the Imereti region of western Georgia. A masterpiece of the Georgian Golden Age, Gelati was founded in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Historically, Gelati was one of the main cultural and intellectual centers in Georgia. It had an Academy which employed some of the most celebrated Georgian scientists, theologians and philosophers, many of whom had previously been active at various orthodox monasteries abroad, such as the Mangana Monastery in Constantinople. Among the religious authors were celebrated scholars as Ioane Petritsi and Arsen Ikaltoeli. Due to the extensive work carried out by the Gelati Academy, people of the time called it "a new Hellas" and "a second Athos".
The Cathedral of the Dormition, or the Kutaisi Cathedral, more commonly known as Bagrati Cathedral - is an 11th-century cathedral in the city of Kutaisi, in the Imereti region of Georgia. A masterpiece of the medieval Georgian architecture, the cathedral suffered heavy damage throughout centuries and was reconstructed to its present state through a gradual process starting in the 1950s, with major conservation works concluding in 2012. A distinct landmark in the scenery of central Kutaisi, the cathedral rests on the Ukimerioni Hill.
Motsameta monastery - It is a small and very beautiful monastery with round turrets crowned with peaked tent-shaped domes. The monastery is standing above the rough Rioni river and is buried in coastal vegetation. According to the legend the monastery was constructed on the place where Muslim aggressors executed David and Konstantin Mkheidze, Georgian princes, who refused to accept Islam. In a small monastery hall on an eminence there is a big rectangular ark with the hallows of the pious princes canonized by Georgian Church . Motsameta attracts crowds of tourists with an ancient superstition: if one crawls three times under the ark and makes a wish while touching the hallows, the princes David and Konstantin will grant it. The Tsar Bagrat III reconstructed the church in the 10 th century. The building was reconstructed again in the 19 th century.