Located 221 km away from Tbilisi, Kutaisi is the capital of the Imereti region. One of the oldest cities in the country and former capital, the town offers some of the most ancient cultural landmarks to explore. You’ll find dinosaur footprints, caves, cathedrals and fountain dedicated to the old Greek Myth of Argonauts. If you happen to visit Kutaisi with little time to spare, here are some of the most iconic must-see attractions, but there’s much more in the vicinity.
Sataplia Nature Reserve
The name, Sataplia, translates into English as a ‘place of honey’; named such due to the tradition of collecting honey from the bees inhabiting this small reserve located in Tskaltubo, just 12 km away from Kutaisi. Famous for dinosaur footprints and speleothems, Sataplia has undergone a major refurbishment in the past decade.
The area features a museum, viewing points, cafeteria and glass walkways in the reserve. The tour of the reserve starts at the cave, crosses the hill underground and then goes back passing the dinosaur footprints. The cave is 900 meters long, 10 meters high and 12 meters wide, boasting lit stalagmites and stalactites that enhance the natural beauty of it.
Prometheus Cave, or Kumistavi Cave, is also located nearby Tsklatubo, 20 km from Kutaisi. Discovered in 1984, the cave is one of Georgia’s natural wonders, boasting stunning examples of millennia-old stalagmites, stalactites, cave pearls, underground lakes and petrified waterfalls.
The cave is considered one of the biggest in the country, but only one-tenth of its territory is open for visitors. The 1,060 meter long walking route takes about an hour to explore. Additionally, since 2012 there’s a boat ride offered at the underground river with spectacular views.
The name of the cave comes from the Caucasian myth of Amirani. According to the legend, just like Prometheus, Amirani angered the gods and was punished by being chained somewhere inside the cave, while eagles tormented him and ate his liver days and nights.
Bagrati Cathedral is a jewel of medieval architecture built in the eleventh century. One of the biggest religious sites in the country, Bagrati is adorned with old Georgian ornaments and symbols. The inside interior is massive and features gorgeous frescos on the walls. The cathedral was commissioned by King Bagrat III and still carries his name today.
Gelati Monastery, situated near Bagrati, was built in 1106 by King David IV, also known as David the Builder in Georgian history. The Monastery also features the burial site of the king. Gelati used to be one of the earliest educational institutions; it had an academy on premises. Since 1994, both Bagrati and Gelati are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites as a single entity.
This futuristic building is the new addition to Kutaisi. designed by Alberto Domingo Cabo, a Spanish architect, the building was commissioned by the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. There are tours available in the building, where you’ll be able to learn more about the design of the buildings (as well as visit its main rooms such as a hall for plenary sittings and a Bureau room), learn about the history of the parliamentary system, mission, structure and roles. The tour lasts for 60-70 minutes three times a day on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays of plenary sittings. In order to sign up for the tour, you need to contact them directly.