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Stalin's desk at the museum | © DAVID HOLT / WikiCommons
Stalin's desk at the museum | © DAVID HOLT / WikiCommons
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Best Things to See and Do in Shida Kartli

Picture of Baia Dzagnidze
Updated: 13 February 2018
Shida Kartli, translated as Inner Kartli, is a region in eastern Georgia and part of the historic Kingdom of Kartli. From ancient times, the region was crisscrossed by several important trade routes. Today, its northern part, Tskhinvali, is under de-facto control of Russian Federation and a separatist regime. However, we’ll guide you to some of the best, and safe, things to see and do.
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Visit the oldest church in the region

Samtavisi is a medieval Georgian Orthodox cross-domed church built in 1030 and is the cornerstone of Georgian religious architecture. The architect, unfortunately, is unknown, but he created a unique design of the worship place. He was the first who created the center-domed design of a church which became very popular across the country in the following years. The composition is so perfect that it’s impossible to add or subtract anything from it.

Since its construction, Samtavisi was damaged and restored several times, and thus lost its initial charm. In 2007 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List.

Samtavisi Cathedral, Samtavisi village, Georgia

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Wander through one of the earliest educational centers

Kvatakhevi church, built in the 12-13th centuries, is located in Kaspi Municipality, in the village of Tsinarekhi. The complex includes the main church, a tower and monk cells. It was once the literary and educational center of Georgia, where many writers and calligraphers from various parts of the country worked and studied. Several manuscripts from the library are still preserved today.

Zahesi-Mtskheta-Kavtiskhevi-Gori-Tsinarekhi-Kvatakhevi Road, Georgia

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Admire the frescos of Georgian kings at Kintsvisi

Kitsvisi Monastery, built in the same period as Kvatakhevi, is located in Kareli Municipality and was built by royal order. The complex consists of several buildings, where St Nicolas Church is the main one. This center-domed church belongs to the 13th-century and is home to some of the greatest examples of the medieval mural art of that period. The walls here depict Kings George II, Lasha-Giorgi, and Queen Tamar, who in Georgian literature is referred to as King Tamar. Unfortunately, few of these frescos survived undamaged until today.

Kareli-Kintvisi Monasteri Road, Georgia

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Wander through the cave city

Uplistsikhe Architectural Complex dates back to the first half of the 1 millennium BC. The inner town is relatively better preserved and represents a compositional center for the entire complex. Being one of the most important historical monuments in Georgia, Uplistsikhe can serve as a day trip from Tbilisi.

Uplistsikhe Complex Road, Georgia, +995 557 31 68 21

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