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Bagrationi Cathedral, 1003 AD

Bagrat Cathedral, 1003 AD, UNESCO

Ancient Quevries

Ancient wine amphoras, Alaverdi Monastery

Gelati Monastery and Academy

Gelati Monastery and Academy, UNESCO

Tbilisi Old Town

Old Town, Tbilisi

Sighnaghi

City of Sighnaghi

Vardzia Cave Complex

Vardzia Cave Complex, 12th century

svetitsxoveli

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, 12th century, UNESCO

Gergeti Monastery

Gergeti-Sameba Monastery, 13th century

Alaverdi Monastery

12th c. Alaverdi Monastery, Telavi area

church in Gremi

16th c. Gremi castle-citadel, Telavi area

Jvari Church

Jvari church, 6th century, Mtskheta, UNESCO

Samtavisi Church

Samtavisi Church

Sighnaghi

Walled City: Sighnaghi

Khandzta Monastery, Tao-Klarjeti, 10th c.

Parkhali Monastery, Tao-Klarjeti, 10th c.

Svaneti

Svaneti

Discover Georgia Tours

Private tours

Wine tours

+ The birth-place of wine, viticulture is alive and well in the South Caucasus. Come learn how the grape has been cultivated for thousands of years, and taste the essence of homemade wines. Fermented in buried earthenware amphoras called qevri, this wine is only drunk with toasts to the heavens and to the ancestors. It will make you feel like you are tasting the warmth and life of sunbeams, concentrated in the grape, which may be one reason that cults of the Sun account for many pre-Christian rituals and songs. Experience wine the ancient way on one our custom designed tours.

Sample itineraries

 

Song tours

+ Three-voiced polyphonic folk music mesmerizes everyone who hears it. This tour focuses on taking interested clientele to various parts of the country where different song cultures survive. A music focused trip, participants will be rehearsing several hours a day with instructors, and singing songs in the context of the music, i.e. in the fields for worksongs, travelers songs while walking, liturgical pieces in the churches, and around the dinner table for feast-songs. Tour leader John A. Graham has been singing, studying, and teaching Georgian folk and sacred music since 2002. Contact us to design a unique itinerary that fits your musical interests.

Sample itineraries

 

Culture tours

+ At our best, our tours combine elements of wine tourism, music tourism, bird-watching, architectural discovery, interactions with many different kinds of Georgians, and the finest in Georgian cuisine and hospitality. We have experience tailoring our itineraries to focus on particular areas of study, for example, medieval architecture, modern monasticism, mountain cultures and traditions, traditional music, and viticulture. Contact us to design a custom tour for you.

Sample itineraries

 

Tour Destinations

Mtkvari River Valley

+ Starting in Tbilisi (named for the hot springs along the river), we journey upstream to the ancient capital Mtskheta. Dominated by the 11th century Cathedral of the "Living Cross," Mtskheta is a quaint little hamlet at the confluence of Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers. The Romans reached Mtskheta in 65 AD... read more

Sighnaghi

+ Sighnaghi, a hilltop fortress town built by King Erekle in the 18th century; boasts twenty seven towers and a four kilometer defensive wall overlooking the broad Alezani valley, commanding a 180 degree view of the Great Caucasus Range. Once an artisan capital... read more

Telavi

+ Telavi, regional capital of the Kakheti region. Telavi is situated at the top of the long Alezani wine-growing valley, at the base of the Great Caucasus range, and has been the seat of kings for several centuries... read more

Tbilisi

+ Tbilisi, capital city of Georgia, founded in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali. A center of trade and conflict for centuries, Tbilisi has been sacked forty times by various invaders but survives today as the modern hub of the South Caucasus. Nevertheless, the downtown area is full of winding cobblestone streets... read more

Qazbegi

+ Mount Qazbegi, the mythical mountain hold of Prometheus' epic torture, elevates to an impressive snowcap, 15,000 feet above sea level. Against this backdrop, the small hamlet of St. Stephens and the hauntingly silhouetted Gergeti Trinity Monastery (13th century) strikes an indelibly austere frame... read more

Tao-Klarjeti

+ Tao-Klarjeti is the mountainous region in contemporary North-Eastern Turkey that was once the birth of the medieval Georgian "Golden Era" that lasted from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. We will enter Turkey via the border from Akhaltsikhe, map here, visas obtainable for $20 at the border for American citizens. The high-plateau topography is criss-crossed with deep canyons... read more

Black Sea Coast

+ Emerging from the mountains of Tao, which plunge directly into the Black Sea, we will be only 30 minutes drive to the current Georgian border at Sarpi. This area has been populated for millenium by Georgian tribes who traded with Ancient Greeks, Romans, and later with caravans from the East traveling the Silk Route... read more

Svaneti

+ Traveling up a narrow gorge from the plains of ancient Colchis, the hidden valleys of Svaneti reveal themselves among the snow-capped peaks of the Great Caucasus range. In the 19th century, famous explorers such as David Freshfield and Vittorio Sella recorded their travels through this area... read more

 

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Leader Profiles:

John A Graham

Ethnomusicologist and Georgian chant scholar, John is a Ph. D. candidate at Princeton University, where he is pursuing research for a dissertation titled "The Transmission and Transcription of Georgian Liturgical Music, 1880-1910." Co-founder of the Monastery tour in 2006, John had already been studying music and language in Georgian since 2003, including on a Fulbright research grant in 2004, and dissertation research in 2009-2011. In 2005, he organized a US-based tour for the world-renowned Anchiskhati Church Choir, and promoted the energetic Zedashe Ensemble to the States in 2007. John brings his developed organizational skills, knowledge of Georgia, and passion for music and history to the Monastery Tour.

Ekaterine Diasamidze

Occasionally, we are joined by the lovely Ekaterine Diasamidze, a passionate music promoter for Georgia's only classical music station, Radio Muza, and a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at the Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. Eka holds a BA from the Tbilisi Conservatory in 2003 and a Masters in Musicology from the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 2005. She has studied Georgian history, is a church chanter, and brings her deep love and knowledge of the Georgian language and culture to our guide team.

Luarsab Togonidze

A longtime friend and co-founder of the Monastery Tours in 2006, Luarsab is an enthusiastic and passionate ambassador of Georgia's many traditional arts. His company, Samoseli Pirveli, makes traditional Georgian garments; photos here. Luarsab has several publications on the history of Georgian monasticism on Mt. Athos, the preservation of church chant in the 19th century, and biographies on individual clergy members from the pre-Bolshevik era. His special hobby is collecting and identifying 19th century portrait photographs.

Shergil Pirtskhelani

Born and raised in the highland region of Svaneti, Shergil's first language, and first musical influences stem from the archaic traditions he grew up in. Now a soloist in the Zedashe Ensemble and resident in East Georgia, Shergil performs and teaches traditional music both in Georgia and abroad. He has toured in the USA, Holland, Latvia, and the UK on several occasions, and brings his passion for music and fine sense of humor and poise to the guide team at Georgianchant.org.

Soso Kopaleishvili

Soso Kopaleishvili is a dynamic performer and educator of Georgian traditional folk and sacred music. As a soloist in the Sakhioba Ensemble, Soso has performed in the UK, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, and the US, as well as in concerts throughout Georgia. Soso studied in the Tbilisi Seminary and the Patriarchate College of Chant Studies, and worked as a radio host in Folk Radio Tbilisi. He is accomplished on many instruments including the doli (drum), chiboni (bagpipe), chonguri (lute), and guitar. His energy and enthusiasm, combined with a skill for ordering the most delicious foods, make him an invaluable asset to our guide team.

 

Where is Georgia?

Georgia is a country nestled in the South Caucasus along the eastern coast of the Black Sea and is bordered by Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Daghestan, and Russia. Ancient names for Georgia include Colchis, Egrisi, Iberia, and Urartu and is attested to in the histories by Strabo, Xenophon, and Herodotus. Georgians call themselves "Karts" and their land Sa-kart-velo.

Some information on the region can be found on the web. See our recommendations with links on our Resources Page, or click here.

 

Flights to Georgia:

Airfare to and from Georgia is reliable, with hub airports in London, Vienna, Paris, and Istanbul. We recommend avoiding hub routes through Moscow.

From New York and Boston, prices in 2011 ranged from $1200-$1400 roundtrip, from European destinations between $600-$700 roundtrip. Many guests found it convenient to route through Istanbul. Airline reservations before May 1st recommended.

The tour provides airport pickup to make your transition as comfortable as possible, and we can help with supplementary hotel reservations depending on the length of your overall visit to Georgia.

 

Contact and Reservations

 

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