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Telavi – the Centre of Kakheti Region

Telavi – the Centre of Kakheti Region

Telavi is located in the heart of Kakheti, the historical area of eastern Georgia, in the valleys of the rivers Iori and Alazani. A trip to Telavi is an excursion around a surprisingly beautiful region to the world of ancient temples and monasteries, picturesque rivers and valleys where amber grapes grow under the warm sun rays. Telavi is not only the region centre. It is the centre of Georgian winemaking which is a cult there.

Telavi is located in the most beautiful Alazani valley on the slope of Tsivi-Gombor ridge. The city is situated at 490 m above the sea level so the air there is fresh and pure. The landscapes of Telavi and its vicinities are very impressive. You will enjoy the green river valleys, the slopes of the mountains of the Major Caucasus with its peaks and wood-grown slopes and Alpine meadows. Winters in Kakheti are cold; summers are dry and hot.

As a contemporary city Telavi was born in 1801. But its history goes back as deep as the roots of centuries-old elms. By the way, these trees (in Georgian “tela”) which are abundant there gave the city its name, according to many historians.

Telavi is the most ancient city of Georgia along with Tbilisi, Mtskheta and Kutaisi. It has been known since he 1st – 2nd centuries AD and for a long time was an important trading centre on the caravan route from Near East to Europe . The history of Telavi is closely connected with Kakheti's history since it was always a part of it. The independent history of Kakheti began in the 7 th century when it separated to become an independent feudal princedom. In the 12 th century Kakheti was a part of united Georgia under David the Builder, and Telavi became one of the major cities of Georgia with well-developed trade and crafts. From the second half of the 13 th century after Mongolian invasion Telavi lost its significance.

In the 2nd half of the 15 th century Kakheti was an independent kingdom which continually struggled for independence with Iran and Turkey in the 16 th – 18 th centuries. In the 17 th century Telavi started to prosper again: Kahetian tsar Archil II transferred his residence from Gremi to Telavi. In 1762 Kartli and Kakheti formed a united kingdom which in 1801 was attached to Russia . Within Russian empire the city was called Telav; first it was a part of Georgian-Imeretian province, and afterwards – Tiflis province.

Today Telavi is a big modern city with the population of more than 20,000. When tourists come there they love the possibility to experience ancient traditions of winemaking kept in Kakheti from time immemorial. Kahetian wines are known all over the world. There about 70 various wines are made. The most known are Kindzmarauli, Saperavi, Tsinandali, Akhasheni.

In terms of history the city and its vicinities are incredibly interesting. A lot of important cultural monuments of the have survived up to now. Alaverdi temple, Ikalto monastery, Shuamta monastic complex, Bodbe cult complex are among them.

Alaverdi Cathedral

Located 20 km from Telavi is a Kakheti relic, one of the most well-known medieval temples in Georgia – Alaverdi cathedral (located in the settlement with the same name). It was built in the beginning of the 11 th century and was one of the tallest structures of the time. The temple was built on the site of a small church of St. George. Read more...


Located 10 km from Telavi there is a big village of Tsinandali , the well-known wine-growing settlement where the patrimonial estate of Chavchavadze princes is. In the manor there is Chavchavadze Museum with furniture and personal things of the princes. Read more...


The fortress with such name has survived Telavi center. "Batonis-tsihe" means “The Master's Fortress”. In the 17 th – 18 th centuries this fortress was the residence of Kakhetin tsars. Read more...


Bochorma, the main Kakhetin fortress, is located on a hillside 1,000 m above the sea level. From such a height the surroundings from all sides were visible as far as eyes could see. Read more...

John Zedazeni Monastery

In the picturesque Telani vicinities there stands John Zedazeni monastic complex. It was constructed in the 7 th - 8 th centuries next to the old fortress. The monastery was named in honor of monastery superior between 501 and 531. Read more...


Ancient academy of Ikalto is famous for the fact that Shota Rustaveli, the outstanding Georgian poet of the 12 th century, used to study there. The academy is a part of St. Xenon monastic complex, located 8 km from Telavi. Read more...


Sighnaghi is a small town in the east of Kakheti. It is famous for the fortress of the same name, which is listed among the most known and major fortresses of Georgia. Read more...


St. George monastic and Episcopal complex, situated in Bodbe (Kakheti) is the national Georgian relic. In St. George cathedral are kept the remains of Nino of Kappadokia, Equal-to-the-Apostles, the great Baptist of Georgia, the harbinger of Christianity. Read more...


Nekresi Monastery which has survived in Alazani river valley consists of several cult structures of different times. Read more...

Shuamta Monastic Complex

Near Telavi in the village of Shuamta you will see the fragments of Dzveli-Shuamta and Akhali Shuamta monasteries (old Shuamta and new Shauamta). These two monasteries absolutely differ from each other in architecture and were built at different times. Read more...

Kvelatsmind Church in Gurdzhaani (the 9 th -17 th centuries)

The little provincial town of Gurdzhaani near Telavi is famous for its unique monument of medieval Georgian architecture – Kvelatsmind church – the only two-domed church in Georgia. It looks quite modest - a grey stone temple with the cross-shaped facade and rectangular in plan. Read more...

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