KVEMO KARTLI IS SITUATED IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF EASTERN GEORGIA. ITS AREA IS 6901 SQ. KM. THE REGION IS DIVIDED IN 7 ADMINISTRATIVE-TERRITORIAL UNITS. THE REGION COMPRISES THE TOWN OF RUSTAVI AND MUNICIPALITIES OF GARDABANI, BOLNISI, MARNEULI, DMANISI, TETRI TSKARO AND TSALKA. FROM THE EAST THE REGION IS BORDERED BY KAKHETI, FROM THE NORTH – BY SHIDA KARTLI AND MTSKHETA-MTIANETI, FROM THE WEST – BY SAMTSKHE-JAVAKHETI, AND FROM THE SOUTH – BY ARMENIA AND AZERBAIJAN. THE REGION LIES WITHIN THE BOUNDARIES OF SEMI-DESERT, DRY SUBTROPICAL AND HIGHMOUNTAIN ALPINE ZONES. FROM HISTORICAL POINT, KVEMO KARTLI IS ABORIGINAL GEORGIAN SOIL AND A REGION NOTED FOR ITS NATURAL AFFLUENCE AND BEAUTY. REGIONS TERRITORY KEEPS THE REMNANTS AND TRACKS OF ALL PERIODS OF MANKIND’S HISTORY. THE WORLD ACKNOWLEDGED UNEARTHING OF THE ANCIENT STATION OF HOMINIDS AND THE REMAINS OF HUMANS (AGED 1,8 MILLION YEARS) IN DMANISI SETTLEMENT AS THE OUTSTANDING ARCHEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY. IN THE MIDDLE BRONZE AGE THE BRILLIANT TRIALETI BARROWS GREAT CULTURE WAS POPULAR HERE. IN KAZRETI, ON THE SLOPES OF SAKDRISI MOUNT, UNIQUE GOLD MINES DATING THE SECOND HALF OF IV MILLENNIUM BC WERE DISCOVERED. HERE ARE ALSO HISTORICAL MONUMENTS DATING V-VI CC. AND THEREAFTER PERIODS WHICH ARE WELL-PRESERVED, SETTLEMENT OF THE FIRST MILLENNIUM BC AND MANY OTHER SIGHTS… OVERALL, THERE ARE MORE THAN 650 HISTORICAL MONUMENTS, 300 OF THEM HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN VARIOUS TOURIST ROUTES.
Arsena’s Cave is located in Algeti National Park at a distance of 1 km from Manglisi bourogh. According to a legend, the said monument served as one of the shelters for the popular hero Arsena Odzelashvili. The place is only accessible on foot.
The cross-dome type cathedral of Betania is located in the region of Kvemo Kartli, 15 km to the south-west from Tbilisi, in the gorge of river Vere. Betania was considered lost and was discovered anew in the XIX century. To the west of the main cathedral there is a small hall church of St. George erected in 1196 by the father’s sister of Queen Tamar, Rusudan. Church was abandoned for a long time, and in mid-XIX century it was cleaned by an artist, Grigori Gagarin, who also revealed a fresco of Bagrationi Royal family (Giorgi III, Tamar, Giorgi IV). In 1894-1896 monk community settled in the monastery again. The outer coverage of the Cathedral has been rehabilitated. Eastern facade and window rims have ornaments. The best specimens of XII-XIII century Georgian mural painting are present here.
There is a figure of Christ Pantokratoros in the arch of the altar, on the walls of the apse there are images of Prophets. On the northern wall there is a mural showing the cicle of crucifixion of the Lord, on the southern wall – scenes from the Old Testament. On the West wall was painted a composition of Doomsday (today preserved only in fragments). The outstanding specimens of secular painting are the portraits of the Royal family depicted on the southern wall – Giorgi III, Queen Tamar and Giorgi IV Lasha. Those paintings were performed in 1206 when Giorgi IV Lasha received benediction of shared crown. Famous Georgian poet and public figure, Grigol Orbeliani, devoted a poem The Face of Queen Tamar at the Church of Betania to this fresco. On the southern wall of the cathedral there is the portrait of a church warden Sumbat Orbeli donned in the attire of a monk and keeping a model of the church in hands. Monastery of Betania was rehabilitated in 2000, extra cells have been built.
Dmanisi is a fortified town of Middle Ages. It is located in Kvemo Kartli, at the confluence of rivers Finezauri and Mashavera, 93 kilometers to the south-west from Tbilisi. In historical sources it was first mentioned in IX century while the town was under domination of Arabs and was ruled by Emir. In the 80-ies of the XI century Dmanisi was conquered by the Seljuks. In 1123 David IV Agmashenebeli liberated Dmanisi and turned it into a Royal town that was a reason of its special advantage in XII-XIII centuries. Here passed caravan ways toward Central Asia, operated a mint coining money. In XIV-XV centuries Dmanisi resisted several assaults (Tamerlane, Yakub Khan) causing economic decline and devastation of the town. Dmanisi was often taken by the invaders (Ottomans, Persians).
The town used to be encircled by a high fence built from basalt stone and reinforced by abutment with entrance gates built in from south-west. Within the town the streets were paved with 2,5 m tiles. Inside the fortress there is a three-nave Basilica – Dmanisi Sioni (VI c.) which was attached with richly ornamented gates during the reign of Giorgi IV Lasha (1210-1223). Fortress hosts also a church and a belfry from late feudal times. On the territory of the ruins were discovered: wide tunnel leading down to the river, shops (oil distillery, pottery), baths, encampments, cellars, mosque with a minaret, and madrasah. The dwellings of wealthy Dmanisi residents were decorated with color stones.
The environs of Dmanisi were settled from times immemorial. In 1992 archeologists discovered here the remains of human bodies (lower jaw, teeth). The German paleoanthropologists proved that these remains are 1.800.000 years old. Therefore, these are the remains of the oldest human beings on the Eurasian continent. Scholars created plaster casts of Dmanopithec – a man and a woman were given old Georgian names Zezva and Mzia. These casts are kept in Tbilisi, at the Georgian State Museum.
Manglisi Sioni is an important Georgian architectural monument and one of the oldest Christian centers in Georgia. The first church in Manglisi was built in IV century, and from V century it is a center of Episcopacy. The dates of basic layers of today’s cathedral go down to VII century. In 1002 cathedral was renovated. Eastern part of the cathedral, entrance gates and ornamentation of walls belong to XI century. Painting of the dome also belongs to that era. In 1852 the Russian administration whitewashed interior of the cathedral that totally destroyed fresco painting. The fence of the cathedral and a belfry built in it were constructed at that time. There is a trace of Russian architecture in the décor of the cathedral. In the courtyard of the cathedral there are a lot of graves of XVIII-XIX centuries.
Klio Publishing House
Bolnisi Sioni is one of the oldest Christian churches in Georgia. The three-nave Basilica of the Virgin Mary is located in 5 km from the town of Bolnisi. It is distinguished with its architecture and ornaments. In the cavity of the southern entrance to the Cathedral was applied a construction inscription denoting that cathedral was built in 479-494. This inscription is at the same time the oldest specimen of the Georgian script discovered on the territory of Georgia. The inscription tells us that cathedral was built by the first Bishop of Bolnisi, David, during the reign of the king of Kartli, Vakhtang Gorgasali (457-491). The belfry standing by the cathedral was built in XVII century.
The Tsugrugasheni cathedral is located in the historical Kvemo Kartli, on the right side of the expanded gorge of river Poladauri, in a couple of kilometers from Bolnisi Sioni, on the right bank of river Bolnisistskali, on the mountain slope. In the inscriptions of the church are mentioned Giorgi IV Lasha (1210-1223) and a builder of the church, Hasan, son of Arseni. Tsugrugasheni was planned like Betania church, but it is smaller with much higher neck of the dome. The outer form of the construction is stretched from east to west and is placed in the form of slightly prolonged square. The interior space is created from four sleeves of the cross of which only eastern sleeve ends with apse. On the both sides of the altar are placed two-story auxiliary premises which in its first floor have table of oblation and a deacon’s closet. From the north the chuch has an annexe presumably added later, a family burial vault. In the construction of the cathedral colour stones were used with extreme subtlety: warm yellowish golden, wine and blue colour stones. The cathedral is lavishly decorated with rich ornaments.
Gudarekhi is a village in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia, notable for a nearby monastic complex and archaeological site. It is located in the Algeti Valley, some 8 km of the town Tetritsqaro, south of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.
A large-scale archaeological research of the area was carried out in 1938 and 1939. It revealed the remnants of a medieval urban settlement with well-developed pottery production. The complex consists of a ruined palace, living premises, a wine cellar, a pilastered building, and several other structures which date from the 12th-13th and 16th-17th centuries.
To the south of the ruined settlement lies the monastery consisting of a single nave church and a free-standing two-storey bell-tower. The church was commissioned from the architect Chichaporisdze in the 13th century. It is built of well hewn stones, with richly incrustated and decorated façades. The church formerly possessed an avidly decorated iconostasis which is now on display at the Art Museum of Georgia in Tbilisi. The bell-tower was erected during the reign of Demetre II of Georgia in 1278. The complex was repaired in 2006.
Birtvisi Forest – Birtvisi forest is an 11th century monument and is located in Tetritskaro Municipality, 30 km away from Manglisi borough. You should take the road from Manglisi toward village Partskhisi, and from there 7 km to the east is located the said monument. It is possible to reach the vicinity of Birtvisi by any means of transportation and from there on a trail by foot.
Algeti National Park is located in Tetritskaro district. It comprises the southern slopes of the eastern area of Trialeti mountain range in the Algeti river gorge and is located at an altitude of 1,100-1,950 m above sea level.
The main entrance of the national park is located near the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary of Manglisi. Algeti National Park Administration has a small infrastructural unit – a picnic area with auxiliary buildings. A tourist trail called “Sanepo Ridge” starts from the cathedral and includes a visit to the picnic area. It is possible to hire a guide and horses to enjoy the visit to its fullest. Visitors can visit the national park at any time of the year, though it is much more difficult in winter due to heavy snow.