Lake Paravani near Akhalkalaki

Lake Paravani near Akhalkalaki

Paravani, the largest lake in Georgia, is known not only for its beauty but also for the numerous legends and mysteries associated with it.

According to one of the legends, Saint Nino, the enlightener of Georgia, arrived at the shore of the lake in the 4th century. Soon she converted the whole country to Christianity.


Nino was born in Cappadocia, in an Orthodox Christian family. She studied the Holy Scriptures in Jerusalem. When she was studying the Gospel, Nino began to think about the fate of the tunic of the Lord (the shirt that covered the body of Jesus during the crucifixion). Nino learned from her tutor, an old woman called Nianfora, that tunic had been taken to Iberia (modern-day Georgia) an ancient kingdom in the Caucasus region. One day Nino dreamt about the mother of God, Saint Mary. She gave her a wooden cross, made with the branches of the vine, and directed her to Iberia to spread Christianity. When Nino woke up, she was holding the cross. Nino tied it up with her hair and brought the cross to Georgia.

Nino set off on the road accompanied by the Armenian queen Hripsime, her mentor Gayane and 35 other girls, who had fled from the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. On the way, the procession was overtaken by Tsar Trdat III. He killed and tortured all the women except Nino, who managed to hide in the rose bushes. Grieve-stricken Nino continued her long journey and reached the lake Paravani.

The lake and the surrounding natural landscapes impressed the girl with their calmness and beauty.

Nino spent several days near the lake. Local people helped her to regain her strength and she set off to the capital city Mtskheta.

One more secret about the lake

The dark waters of the lake hold many unresolved mysteries. Divers discovered strange-shaped structures at the bottom of it, covering an area of 900 m2. Scientists deduced that these are ancient burials, which for unknown reasons are located deep underwater. Household items, dishes, fishing tools, and many other items were also found there. According to archeological studies, they date back to the 4th century BC. Most probably, at that time the lake was dried up, and people lived here. Who were they and how they lived remains a mystery.

The lake today

The total area of lake Paravani is about 40 km2. Given its location and high altitude, the water always preserves low temperature, and it is covered with a thick crust of ice during wintertime.

The climate here is quite harsh and windy. About 5,000 pine trees were planted in the surrounding areas to enrich the local flora since only these trees can withstand difficult weather conditions during the cold season.

The small village Foka is located on the southern shores of the lake. There is a convent named after St. Nino in the village. In the small shop of the convent, one can buy various goods created by the nuns: hats, painted dishes, sweets, jams and marmalades, oils, and chocolate.

If you plan to travel to Georgia, don’t miss visiting Lake Paravani. The turquoise water of the lake, mixed with the serenity of the scrounging hills reminds us of the story of St. Nino, who many centuries ago, standing on the shore, turned her gaze towards Iberia with hope ...