8 Kazbegi sights worth seeing
Kazbegi (Georgia) is a rich in sights small town, spread out at the foot of Mount Kazbegi. In 2007 it was renamed Stepantsminda. Here the air is excellent and the climate is excellent, because this area is located at the foot of the mountains and most of its territory is occupied by unspoiled nature.
In addition to the sights and beauty of the mountain range, Kazbegi is famous for its ideal conditions for outdoor activities and extreme tourism – mountaineering and rock climbing, paragliding, horse and bike rides, rafting. Kazbegi is also famous for being the birthplace of khinkali, a traditional Georgian dish.
One of the most famous peaks of the Caucasus Mountains – mountain Kazbek height of over 5000 meters. She is located on the border between Georgia and Russia. Kazbek, covered with eternal snow and ice, is, in fact, an extinct volcano, whose last eruption was observed about 2.5 thousand years ago. There are many fascinating legends and beliefs associated with Mount Kazbek.
Kazbek is an ideal place for fans of mountaineering and extreme sports. For everyone else it will be interesting to go on an organized hike, as the mountain is rich with many sights. Among them, several temples, including the Trinity Church and the cave monastery of Bethlemi, and a weather station located at an altitude of 3,700 meters.
The best views of the mountain are from several points. You can fully see the top of Kazbek only in the morning – in the afternoon it is covered by large dense clouds.
Address: Kazbek, Georgia.
The Church of the Holy Trinity in Gergeti
Holy Trinity Church in Gergeti.
The Church of the Holy Trinity in Gergeti is a symbol of Kazbegi and one of the most beautiful sights of Georgia. The ancient structure, which dates back presumably to the XIV century, is the only cross-domed church in the historic Khevi region.
The architectural monument rises on a hill at the foot of Mount Kazbek – against a background of mountain glaciers. The temple stands at an altitude of 2,170 meters, literally above the clouds, and from below it seems that it floats in the air. You can get here by car or on foot along a winding serpentine road. A shorter but more difficult way is a steep climb up.
The Gergeti Church is considered the tallest structure in Europe. With its unique combination of stone antiquity, snow-capped mountains, and picturesque surroundings, it’s no wonder this attraction is popular with tourists.
The outside of the church is decorated with bas-reliefs and carvings with traditional Georgian ornaments in the form of crosses, sun, animals, vines, etc. A forged iron door leads to the church. Its interior decoration is ascetic – lack of plaster, iconostasis of VI century, several surviving fragments of frescos.
The only source of light are narrow windows. Among the valuable relics of the church is an icon of the Mother of God of the XVII century. Next to the church, there is a medieval bell tower. A small observation deck offers a picturesque view of the surrounding area.
Address: Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Oni, Georgia.
It is an incredibly picturesque and secluded place for relaxation of body and soul, free from the crowds of tourists. The high-mountain Truso valley is located in the upper reaches of the Terek River. It takes 30-40 minutes to get here by off-road vehicle.
The way to the valley itself is no less picturesque than the final point of the route, so a hike that takes 3-4 hours guarantees a much greater experience. Late summer and early fall are the best times to visit the valley.
Despite the short length of Truso Valley, there is a lot to see. In the tight Terek Gorge, you can admire small waterfalls coming right out of the rock.
The main natural attractions of the valley are considered about 60 different mineral springs – sulfuric, calcium, iron and others, as well as a bottomless lake with bubbling mineral water. At the end of the accessible part of Truso Gorge is the ancient village-fortress of Zakagori from the 14th century, with ruins of towers and a citadel.
Address: Truso, Resi, Georgia.
Not far from the famous Military-Georgian Road in a mountain gorge is a picturesque natural landmark – Gvelet waterfall. It takes 15 minutes by car and longer 1-1,5 hours on foot, but it is more interesting. The stony, winding road leading to the waterfall along the right bank of the mountain stream is marked with white and blue markers.
The slopes of Gwelet Gorge were formed from dark clay shale and andesitic lavas. The waterfall is about 25 meters high. Above it, a cloud of splashes and water dust forms, and the falling water gurgles down at the foot of the cliff in a deep funnel.
The Gwelet Falls are at their fullest in May and June. It does not freeze in winter, and the surrounding area is picturesque at any time of year.
Address: Gveleti Falls, Tso, Georgia.
This natural landmark is located in the Kazbegi region between the Abano and Gergeti glaciers on top of Mount Kazbeg. The mysterious cave at an altitude of 4,100 meters above sea level was accidentally discovered by a Georgian mountaineer in 1947.
The ancient valuables found in the cave, dating back to the XIII-XIX centuries, indicate that it once served as a monk’s cell. Who created this cave monastery among the mountains and glaciers is still unknown.
Betlem Cave is considered the oldest and most inaccessible cave Orthodox temple not only in Georgia, but in the whole world. Its entrance is carved into the steep cliff. Because it is difficult to get there only if you have climbing skills and special equipment.
The iron gate with a long chain that closed the cave and the valuable items found in it are now stored in the museum of local history Kazbegi. The cave is rather spacious inside – domed vault, semicircular walls, tiled floor, and one window above the door.
Address: Kazbek, Georgia.
The Arch of Friendship of Peoples
The Arch of Friendship of Peoples.
This is one of the landmarks located along the famous Military-Georgian Road. The arch is set north of the Gadauri ski resort – on the Krestov pass. The monument was created in 1983, designed by Z. Tsereteli for the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Georgia.
The Arch of Friendship of Peoples is a semicircular structure of stone and concrete, set 2,384 meters above the bluff and the mountain river. The inner surface of the arch is decorated with a huge mosaic panel depicting significant events in the history of Georgia and Russia, and in the middle is an excerpt from Rustaveli’s poem “The Knight in Tiger’s Skin.
The main reason to visit this place is the huge observation deck, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain scenery. Fans of extreme sports have the opportunity to fly in a paraglider.
Address: Monument of Friendship of Peoples, Ganisi, Georgia.
In the village of Sioni, Stepantsminda district, you can see the triangular roof of the ancient three-nave Hevis Sioni basilica in front of the entrance to the gorge. The temple was built on top of a low hill in the IX-X centuries.
A characteristic of the style at the time the temple was built was the ascetic decorative design of the smooth walls of the facade. Around the basilica you can see the ancient cemetery, and not far from it – a memorial plate with an almost destroyed stone cross and the inscription carved in ancient Georgian script.
Next to the small later belfry, at the entrance to the fence, there are semicircular stone benches and armchairs where members of the Council of the oldest of the villages of the Chevi historical region used to sit.
Address: Sioni Village, Georgia.
Sno Gorge with a combat tower
Sno Gorge with a combat tower.
On the edge of the spur of mountain Sioni, on the right tributary of the river Terek rises a slender pyramidal watchtower. According to legend, it was built by a craftsman named Sisauri, who lived in the XII-XIII centuries – during the reign of Queen Tamara.
According to historians, the fortress Sno was erected at the turn of the XVI and XVII centuries. The tower, standing on the inaccessible top of a rocky hill, was repeatedly besieged by the mountain peoples – Lezgins, Kists and others.
Small in size, the fortress in the past occupied an important strategic position – it closed the Sno Gorge, from which it was possible to reach other mountain regions of Georgia. The fortress consists of a circular stone fence and a single tower, located on the north side. Stairs carved in the rock lead to the entrance to the fortress.
Kazbegi, Georgia – what places to see
Going on a trip but don’t know what sights in Kazbegi, Georgia are worth seeing first? Looking for inexpensive and varied entertainment for the whole family? We have selected the most interesting and popular places in Stepantsminda (modern name Kazbegi) to make your trip memorable for years to come. You will love this town, located at the foot of Mount Kazbek, for its landscapes, architecture and ancient buildings. So, here are 6 of the most beautiful sights of Kazbegi.
Built in the 14th century, the Trinity Church in Gergeti is one of the most visited attractions in Georgia. If you come to Kazbegi it is a must-see. The church is located at an altitude of over 2000 meters, right above the village of Stepantsminda. From there you can get excellent views of the mountains and villages of Georgia, so be sure to bring a good camera.
There are two ways to get to the temple: on foot and by car. The ascent by yourself takes from 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on your physical condition. The road is quite steep and constantly goes uphill, in addition, on the way there are no facilities, so do not go to the church with children. It is better to hike early in the morning so as not to get burned and get sunstroke.
The ascent by car takes only 30-40 minutes. At the foot of the mountain there are always cab drivers and cars of Kazbegi residents, who are happy to take you to the most beautiful places and even arrange a small excursion (for a fee). Do not go to Trinity Church on your own car. First, only very powerful off-road vehicles are able to make this trip, and secondly the road is steep and quite dangerous, an untrained driver may experience difficulties.
- Choose the right clothes and shoes. Optimal for a trip to the kazbegi in the spring, summer and fall is a sweatshirt over a T-shirt, long pants and closed, comfortable shoes. Bring a backpack with food, water and a windbreaker (the weather changes frequently in this area). In the winter, be sure to wear a hat and scarf and a warm jacket, but not a coat, as it will not be comfortable to move around in.
- Do not go to the church in the fog or rain. The most beautiful view that opens from this landmark is the clouds that “lie” on the mountains. Here you can take stunning photos of Kazbegi, but only in clear weather.
- It is not necessary to walk along the road designed for cars. Although cars pass through here infrequently, it is quite dangerous, because it is strewn with stones. In addition, it is almost one and a half times longer than the one hikers usually walk on.
Made of stone, it has been perfectly preserved to this day. Women in pants and with uncovered head are not allowed to enter here, so you can take a free scarf and skirt at the entrance. Gergeti church is lit only by candles of the people who come. In it you can buy icons and crosses. They say that any wish made here is sure to come true. You should definitely visit this sacred place.
Many writers have written about this mountain, including Lermontov and Pushkin. We must say, not in vain. Landscapes that can be seen only here are breathtaking, and from the top of the mountain, where the height reaches 5000 meters, you can see the most stunning views in Georgia.
Only trained climbers can overcome this climb, but Kazbek is also worth a visit for ordinary travelers (for example, you can get to the Trinity Church, which we wrote about above). Also at an altitude of just over 400 meters there is a plateau, from which there is a unique view of the temple and Kazbegi. You can get to the plateau on foot by buying a map in the town or browsing the route on the Internet. The easiest way to get there is by cab (cost about 50 GEL).
On a side note! To visit this attraction in Kazbegi and spend a minimum of effort on the ascent, find experienced fellow travelers or go on a bus tour. Use the recommendations above to choose the right clothes and timing for your trip.
It is located in a small mountain gorge, not far from the central Kazbegi highway. You can get there on foot or by car. Fascinating hike takes about an hour, but is not suitable for the elderly and people with poor physical fitness. Also be careful when hiking with small children – at times the path is very narrow and rocky. To get to the waterfall itself you need to walk across the mountain stream (a popular place for photos in Kazbegi and Georgia in general) on a wooden bridge and go upstream.
The way by car from the foot of the mountain to the equipped parking lot takes only 15 minutes, but to get to the waterfall, you must overcome 700 meters on foot. It is possible to swim in it, but there is a strong current and there are always many tourists.
- To visit Gveleta Falls is better to be on a sunny day to get the maximum experience and great photos.
- The waterfall belongs to those sights that can be seen in Kazbegi both in winter and summer, because the surrounding areas are picturesque both under a blanket of snow and in a green outfit.
- There is still snow in early spring, so if you like to travel in warm weather, it is better to wait until late April. The best time to visit the falls is May-June, when it is at its fullest.
- Wear comfortable sports clothes and shoes, and bring food and water, as there are no stores in the area at all.
This wonderful place is not so popular with tourists, it is perfect for those who like a quiet and relaxing holiday. To fully enjoy the local scenery, you can go for a hike with tents, as there is usually no strong winds and it is quite warm in the spring and summer. The path through the valley ends with the border control, so make a route beforehand and don’t forget to take a map.
You can drive through the valley in an off-road vehicle if you book it in town. The trip takes 1-2 hours each way, not counting the stops. On the way you can look at the mountain river, a lake with mineral “boiling” water, a natural gorge, and abandoned fire towers. Right in the valley there is a cafe where you can rest and gain strength, and a small village whose residents sell delicious cheese and other homemade products.
- The best companions to visit Truso Valley are the locals, usually gathering at the beginning of the trail. These wonderful guides will not only save you money compared to the official organizations, but they will also show you the most beautiful places, cook dinner over a campfire and make great company.
- The road through the valley can only be done by off-road vehicles. Don’t trust drivers in other cars – you’re likely to get stuck along the way.
- The road on foot takes 3-4 hours, so do not set off if you do not have enough physical fitness. The valley is very large and beautiful, a great place for a two- or three-day trip with tents.
- Don’t make the trip right after it rains or the next day. At this time, the already rough rocky road becomes even more dangerous, causing drivers to raise fares with no guarantee that there won’t be trouble on the way.
- Make an appointment in advance with the driver about the time. Usually, they are waiting for tourists only one hour, so if you are late without agreeing in advance, you can stay in the valley without an escort.
- The best time to visit the site is late summer and early fall. During this period, it is the most suitable temperature and is full of beautiful plants.
Another fascinating place on Mount Kazbek, located at an altitude of 4000 meters. This is the oldest cave temple of Christians, formed in the 6th century AD, found by a Georgian mountain climber in the 1950s.
The cave is located between the glaciers, it is one of the unique places in Georgia, which should be seen in Kazbegi. Here were found cells of monks, tombstones and many other monuments, which are now stored in the city museum.
- It is very cold in the caves, so you should bring a scarf and a hat. Don’t forget a pair of spare shoes – one pair should be comfortable (for the ascent itself), the other should be warm.
- If you want to visit this place, but do not have enough training, you can visit one of the similar caves (there are several on Kazbek, all at different heights), located a little lower.
Kazbegi National Park.
This is one of the most visited and popular reserves in Georgia. It is located in the mountains, the lowest section is located at an altitude of 1,400 meters. Much of the park’s area is protected, with rushing mountain rivers.
There are several forests with rare species of trees on the territory of the attraction. Subalpine birches, mountain ash and pine trees grow here. In addition, it is the only place where Radde’s birches, which are listed in the Red Book, grow.
In the southern part of the park are meadows with various types of shrubs and green plants. It is home to rare species of fauna, such as lynxes and mountain eagles, if you are lucky enough to see them up close.
To date, the territory of the reserve is not equipped, there is almost no developed infrastructure and there is no full-fledged reception center for tourists. In Kazbegi National Park there are always walking and bus tours, which can be ordered both in advance and on arrival. In addition, you have the opportunity to enjoy a horseback ride on the territory of the reserve or become a participant in a specialized educational tour, which is organized daily for everyone to observe the animals of the park.
Learn how to get to Stepantsminda on this page.
For a walk in the park you need to take two sets of clothes – warm and light. Since the park is located at different heights, the temperature varies depending on the part of the reserve you are walking through. For example, in areas above 2,000 meters, there is no summer as such, it is always cold and everything is covered with snow.
We hope that our selection and tips will help you to visit the most interesting sights in Kazbegi, Georgia. It is a beautiful city where you can enjoy a relaxing holiday and insanely beautiful scenery. Have a great trip!
All attractions near Kazbegi are marked on the map in Russian.
Video: views of Stepantsminda from the air and sights in the neighborhood.
Author: Elena Lunina
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