Kutaisi is an administrative center of Imereti and is the second most significant cultural and industrial city in Georgia. Archaeological dates reveal that the territory of modern Kutaisi and its environs were settled by humans as early as 100,000 years ago. And in the 15–13th centuries BC, the area was home to the Colchian culture. The city has had other names over the years as well, including Aya, Kutaya, and Kutatisium.
Once here, don’t forget to visit Gelati Monastery and Bagrati Church. Gelati is one of the prominent medieval centers located 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from Kutaisi. The building of the monastery was ordered by King David the builder, the most powerful king of Georgia. The complex consists of various buildings built between the 12th and 13th centuries.
Gelati Monastery of Holy Mother of God stands out for its mosaics created in 1125–1130. At the center of the church, there is a fresco depicting Saint Mary with Baby Jesus in her hands. It serves as the central part of the whole composition.
Bagrati Church, built in 1003 by Bagrat III, has symbolic and historical significance.
Okatse Canyon is a natural landmark situated in the gorge of the Okatse River in Khoni Municipality. The width of the canyon varies from three to 15 meters (9.8–49.2 feet) and the depth between 20–100 meters (65.6–328 feet).
Adorned by several affluent waterfalls and Oskhapo Lake, the area attracts many local and foreign visitors during the summer months. It also features a number of natural stone bridges and caves.
Climatic and spa resort Sairme lies in Bagdati Municipality and is famous for its natural hot and cold mineral water springs. Legend has it that shepherds who were chasing wounded deer discovered the waters. Surrounded by deciduous and coniferous forests, the area makes a great spot in which to relax and take some time off from your travels.
The Vani Archeological Museum is home to some of the most important artifacts of ancient Georgia. Researchers believe that one of the principal Colchian towns was located here and that its golden age came between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC. The city-type settlement developed here on the basis of that ancient village, whose ruins are now in abundance in and around the modern town of Vani.
Mgvimevi monastery has a unique location. Located in Chiatura Municipality, near Mgvimevi village, it is only accessible via numerous narrow stairs from Chiatura and a long man-made tunnel.
Chiatura is the country’s center for manganese production. Besides wandering through abandoned Soviet factories, the must-do attraction here is to ride on an antique cable car that hasn’t changed for at least 50 years.
The Katskhi Pillar is a limestone monolith in Chiatura Municipality near Katskhi village. This 40-meter-high (131.2 feet) pillar overlooks the small river valley of Katskhura. In 2009, the monastery on top of the pillar underwent restoration, and researchers discovered ruins that date back to the 9th or 10th century.
The Imereti region is home to several very famous Georgian writers and poets. And if you’re interested in how Georgian literature was shaped, you can visit their house-museums scattered across the region.
The house-museum of Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli (1840–1915), established in the patrimonial palace of the Tseretelis, presents his and his ancestors’ personal things, including Italian, French, and German furniture from the 19th century, utensils, a library, and his and his colleagues’ manuscripts.
Another museum that might be of interest is the ancestor palaces of other famous poets, including Titsian (1893–1937) and Galaktion Tabidzes (1891–1959). Admire their personal belongings such as clothes, accessories, embroidery samples, paintings of Georgian artists, and trinkets, to name a few.