Still on day 2 – Our next stop is Mtshketa. It is still part of Jvari – Uplistsikhe – Mtshketa packaged tour (35 uSD from Shoti) but I need to divide day 2 tour into two posts so that I won’t bore you too much on a single long post.
Mtshketa was the original capital of Georgia. An old town, with a very European ambiance. From the brick roads and houses with grape yards, this is where you can really feel the richness of Georgia’s beauty and history.
Our goal here is to see Svetitskhoveli Cathedral – translated as the “Seven Pillars” Cathedral. According to legend, one Georgian merchant was able to buy Christ’s robe and returned to Georgia with it as a gift for her sister – Sidonia. Immediately upon touching the robe, Sidonia died and they couldn’t remove the robe from her grasp. So, they buried her along with the robe. From there grew a cedar tree that was used to build the pillar of the church.
From the cathedral, you can glimpse the Jvari Monastery.
Another Unesco World Heritage, it is the second largest building in Georgia next to Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. (seen on my last day in Georgia)
I am hoping this is the Cedar Tree in the legend, but I am not even sure if this behind me is actually a cedar tree :))
GoPro definitely helped us a lot on shots with big structures as this.
Inside the cathedral is a great view as well
As it was still early, we decided to proceed to Kakheti where it is now sunny. Kakheti is known as the Wine Region of the Country. Going there, you would notice that most of the houses have grape vines hanging on their lawn. I was tempted to ask Shoti to stop just to take pictures with them. But soon, we reached Signagi. Shoti stopped us near the road where we can see from the other side the view of the beautiful city.
Entering the town, it looks like a bigger version of Mtshketa. So, we asked Shoti to drop us in the street later on to just walk and take pictures. We initially plan to experience wine tasting here, but as advised by our beloved tour guide, wine tasting here has a cost for entrance fee, so he recommended a certain wine store in Tbilisi where we can do wine tasting for free with homemade wines for a very cheap price.
Shoti took us directly to what the town people calls the castle – the Signagi City Walls. The place was actually a fortress, with the red bricks and all as you can imagine. We were able to walk part of the walls and have a view of from up there. It looks like the great wall of China – though I haven’t been there, somehow, it resembles what’s in the pictures. The wall goes on around the city.
At one end of the wall, there’s a restaurant with a great view. We were supposed to have barbecues but it will take 30-45 minutes so we passed as we are on our way to Bodbe Monastery – the burial site of St. Nino – the apostle and the woman who introduced Christianity to Georgia.
Bodbe Monastery is just few minutes away from Signagi. On the second structure upon entrance is where St. Nino is buried. You can even go inside and see the burial place. The place was very solemn.
On the far right corner inside this structure lies the relics of St. Nino. Only one person is allowed to enter at a time, so you have to fall in line.
Backside, there is a very long stair that leads to a natural spring. It will take around 30-45 minutes to reach the spring that is believed to have healing qualities. Sadly, we skipped this as we do not have enough strength and time to go there anymore. Instead, Shoti took some pictures of us around.
Then we went back to Signagi to walk around the town and have our ways to all the beautiful houses and stores there.
On our way back to Tbilisi, we asked Shoti to stop at some grape vineyards near the road. It was one of my dreams to go to and fortunately, he was game. Sadly, harvest season time just recently ended so there are no more grape fruits, but I am still glad to have experienced standing in the middle as I have dreamt:
Back to Tbilisi, we had our dinner at Samikitno again and have kebabs and our favorite grape soda.