It was time for us to explore the Vardzia cave monastery in southern Georgia. To get there we travelled a road starting from Khertvisi. The road follows Mtkvari River passes through narrow canyons and rocky hillsides. The views are amazing and we were like little kids whispering each others ear: “Wow look at those rocks.. look, loooook!!”
In Vardzia our enthusiasm continued when we walked through its magic hallways, caves and secret tunnels, trying to imagine how people were living there in its glorious days. For us it was amazing to explore such a place full of interesting history.
Fabled queen Tamar of Georgia (of which one of 4 surviving frescoes is in Varzia) ordered the construction of this underground sanctuary in 1185 to protect Georgians from Mongols. It was carved into the side of the Erusheli mountain, located in the south of the country near the town of Aspindza.
The glorious days didn’t last long and thou it kept Georgians safe from Mongols, a mother nature has no mercy. As we could see the cave city was ripped apart via strong earthquake (only a century after its construction) destroying more than two-thirds of the city.
Nowadays the place is maintained by a small group of zealous monks. We didn’t see any of them, who knows, maybe during daytime they are hiding from the crowds of tourists 😉
Even it was not seasoned at its height, busses full of people were continuously arriving there. At time to time in narrow tunnels deep inside the rock, we had to wait in a queue to continue our tour.
Normally we try to avoid such places, but because of its unique character, Vardzia is a must see place in Georgia!