On the left bank of Mtkvari River, the Tmogvi Fortress is cut into the side of Mount Erusheti. Although its date of construction is not known, it existence is mentioned in historical chronicles as early 914 AD. A few kilometres away, cut into another mountainside is the massive and impressive Vardzia Monastery cave complex. Consisting of thirteen tiers and hundreds of monk' cells, the complex also has a bell tower, meeting halls, churches, libraries, and a pharmacy.
Points of interest: Tmogvi Fortress. Saint George Chapel. Vardzia Cave Monastery Complex.
A Day Trip: The tour begins at the site of an ancient caravanserai on the side of a caravan trade road near Tmogvi fortress. On the way to Tmogvi Fortress, the road crosses Joldi Bridge and passes by an old excavation where green clay was extracted for medical and cosmetic purposes. Nearby the fortress, an ancient city lies in ruins. The journey then continues along the river towards Vardzia Cave Monastery Complex, passing through the village of Chachkari, you see typical Meskhtian architecture, ancient winepresses and the ancient St George Chapel and a Crown Hall. The trip ends at Vardzia (State Museum), where approximately half of the original 600 cells can be seen.
Hiking tour of moderate difficulty. Length of the route: 9.5 km. Duration of the tour: 7 hours. Minimum altitude: 1170 metres above sea level. Maximum altitude: 1650 metres above sea level. Recommendation: This trip is a hiking tour. Although it is mostly moderate walking, there are some areas where the going is steep and the footing is rocky. Picnic lunch is recommended.