Georgia Jewish Heritage Tour9 Days | Tbilisi, Mtskheta, Gori, Surami, Akhaltsikhe, Nikortsminda, Oni, Kutaisi, Vani, Kulashi, Batumi

Georgia Jewish Heritage Tour

Discover the fascinating 2,000+ year history of Georgia’s Jewish community as you visit several major Jewish settlements and their beautiful synagogues on this 9-day Jewish tour of Georgia. Learn about the origins and history of Jews in the country, how Jewish people have practiced their faith and culture here over many years, and how the community endured during the years of Soviet repression. Get to know Georgia’s small, but vibrant, community of Jews today – meet the locals and find out about their lifestyle and institutions, taste traditional Georgian-Jewish dishes, and hear the unique Judeo-Georgian language. In addition, explore some of Georgia’s other historical and tourism highlights.

Please note: If requested, we will try to arrange an opportunity to join prayer services (Shacharit, Mincha, or Maariv), and/or a Shabbat dinner/celebration. However, this will depend on the travel dates, itinerary, and synagogue schedules, and cannot be guaranteed.

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Tbilisi – arrival and city tour
 
Arrive at Tbilisi International airport. Meet your driver and transfer to the hotel for check-in (from 12:00). After a short break, meet your guide and start a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. Start at Metekhi Church and the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the legendary founder of Tbilisi. Take the cable car to Narikala Fortress to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the city. Then, walk past the only mosque in Tbilisi sulphur bath house district. Enjoy a stroll through the Sharden area, which is full of narrow streets with cozy cafés, wine bars, and souvenir shops, and breathe in the history of Old Tbilisi. Visit the Great Synagogue, which was built between 1895 and 1903. Have lunch at a kosher restaurant and then visit the David Baazov Museum of the History of the Jews of Georgia and Georgian-Jewish Relations. Founded in 1933, the museum is a treasure-trove of religious and cultural artifacts documenting Jewish history and life in Georgia. After exploring the museum, cross the Bridge of Peace to Rike Park. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gori – Surami – Akhaltsikhe
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 meet your driver and guide and drive to Mtskheta, one of the oldest towns in Georgia and its cultural and religious centre. It is where many Jews settled down after fleeing Jerusalem when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the First Temple (586 BCE), and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first stop will be at Jvari Church, which is built on a hilltop and is a true architectural masterpiece of the early Medieval Period. Enjoy the views of the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers, before continuing to Svetitstkhoveli, which is the main cathedral of Mtskheta and a sacred place where the robe of Christ is kept. Then drive to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin. Discover the city’s long Jewish history, including the large synagogue and Jewish graveyard. The last stop is Surami, where you’ll visit the synagogue. Then continue to Akhaltsikhe for overnight at a hotel.
Day 3: Akhaltsikhe
 
After breakfast, explore the Rabati fortress. This stands on a small hill right on the bank of the Potskhovi River. The name of the stone fortress comes from the Arabic for “fortified place”. Akhaltsikhe is one of the main places where Jews settled in Georgia. Visit the synagogue, which was built in 1863 and is still active – with different traditional Jewish holidays celebrated there. Besides the main Shul, the complex also includes a mikvah. Visit the synagogue and the 400-year-old Jewish cemetery nearby. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4: Akhaltsikhe – Nikortsminda Сhurch – Oni
 
Breakfast, then drive to the scenic Racha region. Make a short stop at Nikortsminda church to see the colourful frescoes inside the cathedral, which date to the 17th century. Continue to Oni, a town in the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti region. In the past, Oni was a famous centre of Jewish culture. Nowadays, the town still has a small number of Jewish families. See (from the outside) Oni synagogue, which was built in 1895 in an eclectic style. Dinner and overnight at a local guesthouse.
Day 5: Oni – Kutaisi
 
After breakfast, drive to Kutaisi, Georgia’s second-largest city in Georgia. Jews lived mainly in the north-east of the city, on the left bank of the river Rioni, and some Jewish families still live in the city. Visit the main synagogue, which was built in 1885. This is an active synagogue that regularly holds minyan and is particularly busy in summer when Jewish visitors from Israel and the Georgian diaspora arrive. In the evening, enjoy a home-cooked dinner at Toma’s Marani (wine cellar) to experience genuine Georgian hospitality and drink homemade wine. Overnight at a hotel.
Day 6: Kutaisi – Vani – Kulashi – Kutaisi
 
Breakfast. Visit Bagrati Cathedral, one of the best examples of late-medieval architecture in Georgia. This cathedral towers over Kutaisi and is visible from almost any point in the city. Afterwards, visit Gelati Monastery and Academy, which was built by King David the Builder (considered the most powerful king in Georgia’s history). Gelati, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a major centre of spiritual and scientific life in the Middle Ages, the tomb of Georgian kings, and a cult place for pilgrims. Next, drive to Vani, a town in the Imereti region of western Georgia, when you can admire the exterior of the 19th century synagogue. Continue to Kulashi, a small town that used to be home to one of Georgia’s largest Jewish communities. See the 18th century synagogue from the outside. Return to Kutaisi for overnight at the hotel.
Day 7: Kutaisi – Batumi
 
After breakfast, check out of the hotel and head to Batumi, Georgia’s second most-populated city, which is located on the Black Sea coast. Take a walking tour around Batumi’s old town. As part of the tour, visit the synagogue, which was built by Semyon Vulkovich in 1904, and the Jewish graveyard. Continue to Europe Square, the Piazza, Alphabet Tower, and the Ali and Nino statue. End the tour with a ride on Georgia’s longest cableway (about 6 minutes) to the best panoramic viewpoint in the city. Overnight at a hotel.
Day 8: Batumi – Tbilisi
 
Breakfast, followed by hotel check-out (by 12:00). Free time to relax or explore the city until your transfer to the train station in the late afternoon. Take the evening train to Tbilisi. Overnight at the hotel.
Optional excursion with guide and driver (at no extra charge) to Makhuntseti Waterfall and the Adjarian Wine House. You’ll have the opportunity to taste wine made from Chkhaveri grapes, which are harvested only in western Georgia. The culture of winemaking has been preserved for centuries in the small town of Keda.
Day 9: Tbilisi – departure
 
Breakfast. Check out of the hotel by 12:00. Free time until your transfer to the airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers (1-2 pax by sedan, 3-4 pax by Mercedes Vito or similar, 5-10 pax by Mercedes Sprinter passenger van);
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme with local, English-speaking guide;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • First class ticket on train Batumi – Tbilisi;
  • Lunch at a kosher restaurant on Day 1;
  • Dinner and wine tasting at Toma’s Marani on Day 5;
  • Home-cooked dinner on Day 4;
  • Bottled mineral water (500ml per person per day).
  • Full board (lunches and dinners not specified in the itinerary);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for driver and guide (although they would be appreciated).

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
Lux Option
Akhaltsikhe - 2 nights
Tiflis, Almi guesthouse or similarGino Rabati, LomsiaGino Rabati, Lomsia
Kutaisi - 2 nights
Solomon, Terrace Kutaisi, Old Town, Empire or similarKing David, Tskaltubo Plaze, Argo Boutique or similarBest Western Congress
Oni - 1 night
Guesthouse Gallery, or similarGuesthouse Gallery, or similarGuesthouse Gallery, or similar
Batumi - 1 night
Galogre, Piazza Four Colours or similarIntourist, Piazza Boutique or similarSheraton Batumi, Divan Suites or similar
Tbilisi - 2 nights
Tiflis or similarRiver Side, Citrus or similarTiflis Palace, Ambassadori or similar

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