The beautiful, rugged landscape of the highland Caucasus countries is a stunning backdrop for the rich cultural history of the region, making this a fascinating place to enjoy an escorted tour. One of the oldest Christian regions in the world, the mountains of Armenia and Georgia have a fascinating history of conflict and still bear the signs of a history steeped in religious turmoil today. In contrast, the rolling hills and vineyards of the verdant Imereti offer inviting cuisine and warm hospitality.
An escorted tour of this fascinating region will give you an insight into countries that have remained largely untouched by modern tourism, allowing you to step back in time and discover the history and culture of this beautiful land. Here are just some of the highlights to look out for.
The best place to start an escorted tour of the Caucasus region is in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. A thriving modern city which has managed to throw off its dour Soviet-era image, Tbilisi is a city in which you can see its rich history written in the juxtaposition of its varied architecture. From a fourth-century fort to Eastern Orthodox churches, Art Nouveau splendour and Soviet Modernist blocks, it is as if every group that has ever put down roots here has left its indelible mark on the city. Explore the old town, but take some time to check out its more modern, contemporary sights as well.
Step Back in Time in Vardzia
The historic twelfth-century cave dwelling of Vardzia, nestled in the Erusheti Mountain, offers a haunting insight into the precarious existence of early Christians in this region. Commissioned by Queen Tamar to protect her people from the invading Mongols, the caves originally contained 6,000 separate apartments, as well as a monastery that was cut into the rock. Unfortunately, most of the site was destroyed by an earthquake in the thirteenth century, but the monastery and some of the apartments still survive today, providing visitors with an enthralling experience as they walk through these historic rooms.
Traditional Wine-growing Techniques
The past and present come together seamlessly in the viticulture of Imereti, where traditional techniques are still used today to create the local wine. The Imereti has one of the oldest wine-making traditions on earth, dating back 8,000 years, so it’s no surprise that the locals know a thing or two about getting the best from the 500 varieties of grapes grown here. The winemakers still use the same chemical-free process that they have always used and still mature their wine in traditional earthenware vessels. Make sure that your escorted tour allows time to stop off for a tasting. You won’t regret it.
Feel the History of Yerevan
Experience the difference between the modernity of Georgia’s capital and the old-world charm of Armenia’s capital, Yerevan. As one of the oldest capital cities in the world, Yerevan has a wide variety of sights to discover, from the Katoghike Church and Erebuni Fortress to the Saint Sarkis Cathedral and the Opera House.
This is a fascinating region to explore, so ensure that you take your time and book an escorted tour, which will show you all of these impressive sights and historic monuments to make the very most of your time here.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing escorted tours to many destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.