Дорога в Ахалцихе
IMG_7057 IMG_7060 IMG_7061 река Паравани (2) Река Паравани (3) река Паравани. Дорога Ахалкалаки Ахалцихе. река Паравани

Destination Akhalkalaki – Khertvisi

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The distance between Akhalkalaki and Khertvisi Fortress is 27km, which will take 33 minutes by car and 5 hours of walk. This road is in rather good condition because it is part of the international highway Akhaltsikhe- Ninotsminda-Armenian Border. Most of the road runs along the Paravani River, but if you go further, due to the relief, you will find the road in some distance from the riverbank, at the height of 50 meters above the river. The Paravani River rises from the biggest lake in Georgia, Lake Paravani. You can go boating down the river from May, at the peak of snow melting, up to the time of its drain in August. The Paravani is the right tributary of the Kura River and they meet just at Khertvisi Fortress. The Paravani River changes depending on the season: in autumn it isn`t so deep as in spring and summer. In this place it flows through the Paravani Canyon. The Paravani-Kura canyons are excellent sites for hiking, extreme travelling, boating and cultural tourism. These canyons are not adapted for tourist excursions, but there are some tourist paths. Anyway, it is the wilderness that attracts people to these places. The Akhalkalaki-Akhaltsikhe road runs through one of the most picturesque places in Samtskhe-Javakheti.It lies in a ravine with beautiful high mountains on both sides, covered with vegetation, trees and bushes. In autumn this vegetation becomes even more colorful, and each turn of the road opens up a new view. In rainy weather and in winter you should be very careful at these turns. Beside the river you will see some fishers and a few fishing farms, where trout are raised. This road connects the municipality with the capital city, it also leads to the cave town of Vardzia. On the way to Vardzia, to the right, there is a village called Khando 41°29′31″ N L 43°24′16″ EL.,above the Khando-Khan Gorge, 10km away from Akhalkalaki. If you turn right from the main direction, you can go into that village to see some churches and splendid views. This village is halfway to Khertvisi. Khertvisi Fortress is located on a high rocky hill in a gorge, where the Kura River meets its right tributary, the Paravani River. It is situated right at the place where the road turns towards the cave town of Vardzia on an impregnable cliff. The fortress and the surrounding walls can be seen from a big distance when you are driving along the road from Akhalkalaki. From here you can see a stunning panorama: a citadel standing on a high impregnable from the north-west rocky mountain. It consists of several parts separated from each other by tall castellated walls with narrow doors. The consolidation of the citadel includes towers of various shape and height. The western tower, which was built later, stands out of all the towers. When you come up to the fortress, you need to go to the left, along the bridge across the river. Here the highway is so close to the fortress that it can`t be seen so well as from the distance. If you go onto the bridge, you will see both the fortress and the confluence of the rivers. Here you will find a parking lot and you can walk up from here. The citadel itself impresses with its walls and towers. It is believed that Alexander the Great once had a battle at the walls of this fortress. The history of the citadel is of great interest. For some time it belonged to a feudal family, then it was occupied by Turks, later it went from one invader to another several times and only in 1828 it was finally returned to Georgia. The village of Khertvisi, part of the Adigeni municipality, lies on the slope of the canyon and from the distance you can see fruit gardens and small cottages. According to some old sources, it used to be a town. Khertvisi is mentioned as a town in the second half of the 18th century, but no buildings have survived from that time. Khertvisi Fortress is only mentioned beginning from the 10-11th centuries. By the end of its functioning, the fortress mainly consisted of two parts: the upper citadel and a big yard paled with tall walls, attached to the citadel from the south and east. On the whole, the fortress consisted of the upper fortress (the citadel), which has mostly survived to these days, and the lower fortress, which is attached to it from the south-east. Most of the buildings existing today date back to the 10th-14th centuries, with some outbuildings from the 16th-18th centuries. In two places there are tunnels leading to the river. They were used not only for water supply, but also for communication when under siege. In 985 a church was built in the fortress. By 1354 new walls had been built in the place of the old walls ruined during the earthquake in 1283. In the 10th – 11th centuries Khertvisi was the center of Samtskhe-Javakheti. In the 12th century the fortress got the status of a town. In the 13th century it was destroyed and by the 15th century it had no power. In the 15th century the fortress belonged to the rulers of Samtskhe-Javakheti from the Jakeli dynasty. The whole area, including the Khertvisi Fortress was finally liberated from the enemy in 1828. By that time the fortress was no longer a defensive building. Today the fortress consists of a powerful citadel and tall stone walls. In the western part of the fortress you can see ruins of the small church and other buildings, and in the north-west there is a tunnel which was used for drinking water supply. Khertvisi is an architectural monument of Georgia, which was rehabilitated in 2017-2018. Along with Vardzia Monastery Complex, Khertvisi has been presented for entering the list of objects of UNESCO World Heritage in Georgia. The distance from Khertvisi to the Cave Town of Vardzia is only 16km, which will take 21 minutes by car and three and a half hours of walk. The Cave Town of Vardzia and Vardzia Monastery is one of the most interesting and extraordinary attractions in Georgia. Today only one third of the ancient complex has survived in the Caucasus. The rock monastery of Vardzia is a place which has become famous worldwide, and in 1938 it officially got the status of a preserve museum.

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