Six reasons to visit Georgia now

Updated: Feb 14

Georgia is sandwiched between the Caucasus Mountains to the north, the Black Sea to the west and deserts to the south, and it borders Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey. This small country is not only a crossroads of cultures but also has a wealth of spectacular landscapes.

Until recently, many would have struggled to place the country of Georgia on the map (or at least mistake it for the U.S. state of the same name), but it's emerging as a hot travel destination.


Here are nine places to see and enjoy when you visit Georgia:


1. Tbilisi: An eclectic melting pot


From the hanging balconies in the crumbling Old Tbilisi district and the Persian-style sulfur baths clad in turquoise mosaics, to unique art nouveau buildings falling into disrepair sitting side by side with futuristic glass structures, Tbilisi is a city that inspires.

The Georgian capital lies on the banks of the Mtkvari River and is surrounded by mountains on all three sides.

Archeologists trace the first settlement in today's Tbilisi to the 4th millennium BC. Its position on the old Silk Road turned it into a multicultural hub, reflected today in the city's ethnic diversity and eclectic architecture.

The baths in Abanotubani follow the Persian tradition, only the thermal water bubbles up naturally from the ground below.





2. Ushguli: Europe's highest village


Way up in the Caucasus Mountains around 2,200 meters above sea level, this small village is Europe's highest continuously inhabited settlement.

Sitting at the foot of Mount Shkhara, Georgia's highest point, Ushguli is famous for the medieval defensive towers connected to each house.

It's deep in the Svaneti region, known for its unique culture that was once cut off from the rest of the country.



3. The birthplace of wine


When we think of the origin of wine we tend to think of France, Italy, Greece or Persia, but Georgia is in fact one of the world's oldest wine regions.

In 2003, archaeologists found evidence that Stone Age people were producing wine here up to 8,000 years ago.

Since then, wine has played a core part in Georgia's national identity.

The country's ancient tradition of fermenting grape juice in clay vessels, known as kvevris, has made it onto UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. There are hundreds of indigenous grape varieties, and Georgian wine is slowly gaining recognition globally.




4. Mysterious cave cities


Georgia is home to some of the most unusual cave cities in Europe. By themselves, they're reason alone to visit the country.

The oldest is Uplistsikhe, an ancient settlement that resembles a lunar landscape. Others include Davit Gareja, a vast monastic complex carved into the rock of Mount Gareja, and Vardzia, a spectacular underground city that once housed 2,000 monks.




5. Supra: A traditional Georgian feast

One of the best ways to get to know the country is through its food. In fact, if you haven't tried a Georgian supra, or feast, you haven't experienced all Georgia has to offer.

The local cheese bread is called khachapuri, the most famous being the Adjaran variety. It's a baked bread boat filled with gooey, melted, tangy sulguni cheese, a whole egg yolk and some slivers of butter. Yes, it's heart stopping, but so delicious.

Khinkhali dumplings come with a spiced meat filling that releases its juices when cooked, so you have to suck out the stock before eating. Then there are delectable walnut dressing salads, bean stews cooked with fragrant cilantro and mtsvadi, tender marinated meat cooked on a kebab skewer.


6. The people and Georgian hospitality

Georgians might appear a serious bunch at first, but most are kind and welcoming. For Georgians, a guest is a sacred thing, and they will often go out of their way to help you. Their generosity and hospitality will often take the form of lots of food and even more drink.


Adapted from CNN travel


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