Vardzia 23.05.2017


Image for Vardzia

There are way too many ancient buildings and artefacts in Georgia. Khertvisi fortress is one of it. The first time it was mentioned is around II century BC.

Photo 1276
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1276
(cc) by Rushan

The fortress was overtaken several times, however only ruins survived to nowadays.

Photo 1277
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1277
(cc) by Rushan

On the same way a bit closer to Turkish border there is cave monastery Vardzia.

Photo 1278
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1278
(cc) by Rushan

The monastery is located in the same picturesque gorge, as Khertvisi castle. It housed up to 2000 monks, and its caves are located on 13 levels. Unfortunately monastery has suffered earthquake that destroyed fa├žades of many caves.

Photo 1279
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1279
(cc) by Rushan

Outside only cave entrances are seen. However there are also many tunnels inside connecting caves with each other. Some are quite narrow, some - wide enough to walk.

Photo 1280
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1280
(cc) by Rushan

Renovations are still ongoing in the monastery. Structure supporters were installed in caves that can collapse due to cracks in their walls and ceilings.

Photo 1281
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1281
(cc) by Rushan

Monastery was invaded by Turks in XVI century. Later Turk shepherds used caves as shelters and burned camp-fires inside. Frescoes on walls were preserved thanks to this smoke.
Curiously enough, monks produced their wine, and monastery had 25 wine cellars.

Photo 1282
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1282
(cc) by Rushan

Further we had to cross Georgian-Armenian border. Georgian road to the border is in a very poor condition. Seems like road service is aware about it and even removed part of asphalt around holes, but forgot to put a new asphalt. So holes became even worse.
Armenian border officers held a council whether they could let us in, after they have known that we had been in Azerbaijan. Finally they figured out that we are not Azeri, and let us through, having written down our address in Gyumri.

Photo 1283
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1283
(cc) by Rushan

Interesting, that Armenia in average is higher than Georgia. For example the road from border to Gyumri is around 2000 meters above sea level. That's why clouds look that close.
Along the road there are many abandoned soviet factories. As we were told, the region de-gradated after the 1988 Armenian earthquake. It didn't restore to the past level after that.

Photo 1284
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1284
(cc) by Rushan

The city of Gyumri looks extremely poor. Even in the city center.

Photo 1285
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1285
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1286
(cc) by Rushan
Photo 1286
(cc) by Rushan

 
 
 
 

Points of interest and source links