The fabled lands of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are unheard of by many, but this mountainous region harbors some of the world’s most stunning landscapes and ethno-cultural treasures where Christian and Muslim heritages intersect, millennia-old civilization thrives between wealthy metropolises, and the boundaries of Europe and Asia blur.
To help you plan your visit to Caucasus, I am sharing my Caucasus itinerary. I will also assign a rating of 1-3 hearts as a recommendation of how much I love each site.
Day 1: Baku
After a brief transit in Istanbul, I arrived via Turkish Airlines in the perpetually windy city of Baku (♥♥)in Azerbaijan, awashed in oil capital and ever-growing skyline of skyscrapers. But it’s a city which doesn’t forget its heritage, with a well-preserved cultural hub in its old walled city which has made its way into the UNESCO World Heritage List.
It’s the Caucasus nation that has won the Junior Eurovision Song Contest three times — more than any other country. And over the weekend the Republic of Georgia finally hosted the contest in Tbilisi. The stunning capital is an increasingly popular tourist destination — and it’s also a gateway to other wonders, including the awe-inspiring scenery in Kazbegi, the religious gems of Jvari, and the buzz-worthy wine culture of Chateau Mukhrani.
So when Georgia’s National Tourism Board invited us to fly over earlier this fall, we couldn’t say no. Below you can see some of our favourite memories from our trip, mixed with some of our recent coverage from the contest. Junior Eurovision may be over, but Georgia’s tourism industry is here to stay. Let’s do this!
Ushguli, highest Georgian village located in Svaneti has been featured by Cntraveler, luxury and lifestyle travel magazine. Recognized as the Upper Svaneti UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe.
Author of the article is Benjamin Kemper, food and travel writer. According to the article, a visit to Tusheti means the equestrian adventure of the one’s life.
Here is what the article says:
As globalization and development creep in, an ancient community asks itself what’s gained—and lost.
When their horse let out a wheeze and keeled over dead in the snow, Aluda and Gegi Charkseliani knew they were in trouble. The nearest hospital was still ten miles away, and a friend writhing in abdominal pain between them in the saddle needed a doctor badly.
The Acropolis in Athens. The Great Wall in China. The Galápagos Islands in South America. What do all these destinations have in common? Well, aside from being truly iconic, they’re all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
These landmarks are all officially recognized by the United Nations, and for good reason: they’re of special cultural or physical significance. And, as you can imagine, the UNESCO list they feature on basically equates to a ton of bucket list destinations.
Luckily, there’s no need for that bucket list to get stale with the same old sights. UNESCO is always updating its list of ‘New Inscribed Properties’, and just days ago it published its official list for 2017,adding over 20 heritage treasures to it. We’re a fan of all the entries (of course) but thought we’d highlight five that are particularly worth a visit. Enjoy!
Discover which cultural and natural wonders made the prestigious list this year.
Each year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization convenes to determine which sites will be granted World Heritage status in recognition of their outstanding value to humanity. Sites are carefully selected based on six cultural and four natural criteria, ranging from masterpieces of human creative genius to landscapes of exceptional natural beauty.
The 2017 selections span time, geography, and culture—a treasure trove of new destinations to add to your travel wish-list. Discover the ancient ruins, cave paintings, religious ceremonies, and wildlife oases that reveal some of the most compelling chapters of human history.
THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT
Found in northwest England, these picturesque landscapes were shaped by glaciers from the Ice Age and modern agricultural systems.
The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Krakow since 2 July, has decided to remove Georgia’s Gelati Monastery from the List of World Heritage in Danger.
A decision adopted on Sunday, introduced a major reduction in the boundaries of the Georgian site of Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994 and on the List in Danger in 2010. The new boundaries exclude Bagrati Cathedral, which has undergone major reconstruction detrimental to its integrity and authenticity. The decision retains the Monastery of Gelati’s World Heritage standing as a site of outstanding universal value.
Founded in 1106 in the west of Georgia, the Monastery of Gelati is a masterpiece of the Golden Age of medieval Georgia, a period of political strength and economic growth between the 11th and 13th centuries. It is characterized by the facades of smoothly hewn large blocks, balanced proportions and blind arches for exterior decoration.
Media outlets, the Wall Street Journal and National Geographic, are to make a short film about Georgia’s mountainous village Ushguli in the Upper Svaneti region.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ushguli is one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe. Compared to somewhat more developed towns like Mestia, Ushguli has been “saved” by its particularly inaccessible location, which helped preserve the village’s timeless feel.
The press tour of journalists to Ushguli was organized by Georgia’s National Tourism Administration (GNTA) under the Ministry of Economy.
The guests will prepare a short film and article about Ushguli, which will be included on the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and Star Airlines websites and social media.
Six guests were involved in the tour, including National Geographic journalist Robert Reid, who participated in a specially organized horse race.
UNESCO has awarded historical monuments of the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta special enhanced protections in light of armed conflict. The new status of three epic monuments there is seen as a plea from the UNESCO World Heritage for combatants to refrain from fighting in the areas where these monuments are found.
The three Mtskheta monuments join an exclusive list of worldwide sites receiving enhanced protection in armed conflict, based on The Hague Convention. Within the ancient city are three of Georgia’s and the world’s most precious edifices; the Samtavro Monastery, Shiomghvime Monastery, Antioch Church and Svetistkhoveli Cathedral. These three monuments join the current list of sites with enhanced protection also include; the 13th Century Castel de Monte citadel in south-east Italy, city Paphos in Cyprus and the 15th Century Palace of the Shirvanshahs in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
Some of Georgia’s most cherished monuments will be protected in case of conflict after a special meeting of UNESCO granted three sites in the country’s ancient capital Mtskheta the status of ‘enhanced protection’ earlier today.
The decision was made at a special meeting of the UNESCO Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, which convened in France’s capital Paris , from December 8-9.
The committee accepted Georgia’s submission for granting the status to Historical Monuments of Mtskheta – a complex of three sites in Georgia’s ancient capital.
The monuments include the 6th Century Holy Cross Monastery of Jvari, located on a hilltop just outside the city as well as the 11th Century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Samtavro Monastery.