Samtskhe-Javakheti is a historic southern region of Georgia which includes present-day Akhaltsikhe, Adigeniand some districts of Aspindza. Its capital is Akhalkalaki.
Samtskhe-Javakheti was a part of historical Meskheti. The strategic location of Samtskhe-Javakheti at the crossroads of three civilizations contributed to intense development of relations between the ancient cultures of Georgia, Asia Minor, and the Middle East. And also its strategic location was favorable for cultural and economic development in the region.
It is edged by the Arsiani Mountains to the west and shares a border with Adjara. To the north it is edged by the Persati Mountains and has borders with Guria and Imereti. Its southern edge runs along the Georgian border with Turkey and Armenia. Samtskhe and Javakheti are separated by the River Jobiskhevi (the right tributary of the Mtkvari River).Samtskhe-Javakheti is a mountainous region, broken by ravines, springs, and lakes, as well as large and fast moving rivers. There are very few large flatlands in Samtskhe and the landscape is complex, composed of flat terraces, hills and volcanic mountains. The main rivers of Samtskhe are the Chorokhi and the Mtkvari.
The climate in this region is severe, cold and dry. Winters are cold with a very little snow, while springs are long and warm. The climate in Javakheti region ranges from moderately humid to a highland dry. Avarage temperature: January: below 0°C; July: +16°C +20°C;
Samtskhe-Javakheti region is rich of cultural – architectural monuments.
This region is rich in balneological resort and spa mineral waters.
Borjomi is the most well-known city in this region. Borjomi located at 900 m above sea level in a picturesque mountain gorge. It boasts a multitude of therapeutic springs and the plant that puts out the world famous Borjomi mineral water. The unique properties of the local water have been known since time immemorial. Archeologists discovered stone baths in the city environs that were filled from the springs and used for bathing at the beginning of the first century BC.
In Borjomi was the summer residence of the Romanovs in the XIX century and early XX century.
Bakuriani is a popular all-year alpine resort situated in the Borjomi Gorge at an altitude of 1,800 m above sea level. In the spring, summer, and early fall, tourists can enjoy climbs to Mount Kokhta and Sekvelomta with stops at Tabatskuri Lake, the Timotesubani cave monastery complex, and the hot springs in Tsikhisjvari.
The alpine skiing season in Bakuriani lasts from December until March. The average depth of snow cover is around 60 cm. The main two-level ski run is Kokhta-1 which is 1,500 m in length. The upper 400 m have a 52-degree gradient. Kokhta-2 is also a two-level run where steep descents alternate with gentle slopes. There is a 300-m trail for beginners with a 10-12-degree gradient. There is a sled run of 1,350 m. The resort has a large number of comfortable 3-star hotels.
Vardzia is a cave monastery complex that also serves as a fortress. It is built into the cliffs of Erusheti. It began to be built during the time of King Georgy III at the end of the 12th century and was finished by his daughter, Queen Tamar, at the beginning of the 13th century. More than 2,000 monks lived in the monastery-fortress; during enemy attacks, it could give shelter to up to 20,000 people.The cliff settlement has nineteen levels. A well-planned system of multitudes of rooms, shelters, vertical and horizontal passages, and secret tunnels has been dug into the stone. The complex has churches, monastic cells, living quarters, cafeterias, storehouses, libraries, water conduits, bathhouses, and apothecaries.
The Rabati Fortress is located in the town of Akhaltsikhe, 60 km. from Vardzia.
Built in the 13th century, the Rabati Fortress developed under the influence of different cultures over subsequent centuries and this is reflected in its architecture. The seven-hectare castle complex has a church, a mosque and a synagogue.