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Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

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Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

I'm in the planning stages of a trip to Georgia and wondered whether it was worth seeing both Uplistsikhe or Vardzia or if one was better than the other. I think Vardzia is further away (and harder to get to) but it is bigger. I am a keen photographer so would be grateful for advice on which looks nicest (by that I mean more complete & less of a ruin!). Thanks

Kyiv
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1. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi thumbelina,

We’re just back from a terrific getaway to Georgia, but while we’ve been to Uplistsikhe, we didn’t make it to Vardzia as it was too long for a 1-day side trip. We were based in Tbilisi this time, and to visit Vardzia in no rush it was better to stay overnight somewhere in or near Borjomi. So unfortunately I can’t help you with comparing Uplistsikhe and Vardzia.

But I have a suggestion, if you find out that Vardzia will be off your main rout.

Consider visiting David Gareji monastery complex instead http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5224/ It’s quite close to Tbilisi and can be done as a side trip from there. The monastery is extremely large (by different data, from 20 to 35km long), but only a few of its parts are visited most often. The only problem is you will have to climb up for over 1km to reach them.

I think the decision of visiting both Uplistsikhe AND Vardzia/David Gareji OR just one place depends on how much time you have budgeted for your entire Georgia trip and what other things to see you have planned.

Say, if you plan to see Gori, anyway, there isn’t much to see there except for a fortress and, of course, Stalin’s museum. The latter looked a bit disappointing to me, but for someone with no Soviet background like mine it might be exotic hence worthy. A visit to Uplistsikhe makes this full day trip worth while.

Uplistsikhe is an ancient settlement, a cave/stone city. It has a very scenic location with terrific views. It is, indeed, not too large and is easy to get to – you don’t have to be extremely well fit; however, it is not for someone with limited mobility. But unlike Vardzia and David Gareji, there are no impressive frescoes left there. And if you’ve been to some other cave cities before, you might not be that fascinated. This place is all about its [mostly suggested] history, and without knowing it, it might merely look like some scenic rocks with great panoramic views.

You might also consider adding a visit to the small but interesting Ateni Sioni Church to this day trip en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ateni_Sioni_Church It has amazing frescoes vdjorbenadze.tripod.com/Ateni/Ateni.htm

Have a great trip, whatever you decide!

Edited: 11 January 2012, 13:01
Tel Aviv, Israel
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2. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi Thumbelina and Cora hi to you - I also went to just the Uplistsikhe caves and its pretty easy to do from Tbilisi. Most people take a trip to Gori during there visit to Georgia to see the stalin museum. From here the museum offered to get me a taxi (but some other tourists already had one so I joined them) and if you negotiate a price he will take you to the caves, wait for you and then take you back to Gori where you can easily get back to Tbilisi. Once at the caves you can buy a ticket and there are plenty of guides who will show you round for a fairly reasonable fee. Its very easy to do this whole thing in a day so you may as well do it as its part of the tourist route. There are some very panoramic views from the top. I also fitted in a trip to Mtshkheta where the principle sight is the Jvari monastery also with sweeping views as its on high plateau. You could possibly negotiate the driver to take you here instead of back to Gori. From the town center you can easily negoitiate another taxi to take you to the monastery, wait for you and take you back to the bus stop to catch a Marshtrutka back to tbilisi. It makes for a good packed day and you will have covered some great places.

I thought the caves were pretty impressive and I found the stalin museum fascinating. There are usually english tours every morning. Try and get olga she was great and knew her stuff. There was a very small old lady in the church which to this day has me wondering how she got up there every monring.

have a great trip

angie

www.angietravels.com

Kyiv
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3. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi Angie; great to come across with you in here ;)

I'm sorry to also somewhat disagree with you on Mtskheta (though I realise that, like Stalin's museum, this is a very personal thing, hence there can't be an agreement).

Jvari monastery was impressive, indeed, for its location and exterior, but I found the interior of Sveti Tskoveli absolutely breathtaking! I was only sorry they have trimmed it's surrounding area during the recent reconstruction so perfectly. With no signs of devastation or aging, it lost some charm in my eyes...

Tel Aviv, Israel
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4. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi Cora sounds like you enjoyed your trip. I was there just before coming to Ukraine. Btw I also went to Signaghi which maybe you saw and thumbelina may want to consider. They have a museum dedicated to Pirosmani who was a well known georgian painter and i found the artwork simply lovely, but thats one of the pleasures of traveling coming across things you havent heard of before. The town itself was also rather charming and had it been a very clear day there are supposed to be breathtaking views of the mountains. You can easily do it as a day trip from Tbilisi. I also went to the doll museum in Tbilisi which was a bit quirky but rather cute.

all the best ladies.

Kyiv
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5. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi Angie :)

Yep, I LOVED it! It wasn’t my first trip to Georgia, but my previous visits were all back in the Soviet times. And it was so interesting to see in which aspects the country has changed and in which remained just the same.

Bet you must have enjoyed Tbilisi – they seem to have beaten Kyiv by the number of street sculptures and monuments ;)

As for Signaghi – well, surely visited, and fully subscribe to your recommendations.

It’s just that I’m not too fond of Pirosmani (I knew him very well prior to visiting) (as well as of his Ukrainian “sister-in-arts” Pryjmachenko www.artukraine.com/paintings/pryimachenko.htm ) so I gave his museum a miss.

But as a fortification geek, I did pay tribute to its impressive fortified walls with terrific view over Alazani Valley.

And certainly to one of its wine cellars, for the local wine-tasting ;)

Also visited the nearby St.Nino Monastery in Bodbe, where had been harassed by a local nun for no good reason – she had a vision of me taking photos, which I didn’t, and got extremely rude and shockingly aggressive. This made me feel like at home, being harassed by our babushkas in Orthodox churches LOL But sadly, also spoilt the entire experience.

Edited: 16 January 2012, 15:38
Tel Aviv, Israel
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6. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Hi Cora the nuns are not a friendly bunch of ladies at all - they must have sentry duty for people taking pics. I not only got told off for taking one but thrown out as well. It seems I had wandered too far. Tbilisi was still no competition for Kyiv for monuments and sculptures. Hedgehog still rules supreme :-)

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7. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

:)) It started to snow in Kyiv this week-end, so they brought him some warm clothes: http://zzabavka.livejournal.com/54421.html

Tel Aviv, Israel
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8. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

Priceless :-)

Borjomi, Borjomis...
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9. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

of cource Vardzia is 10-12 times bigger than uplistsikhe,with unic frescos and views,but it's really far from Tbilisi.

10. Re: Uplistsikhe or Vardzia

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