Sighnaghi is the prettiest town in Kakheti, sitting on a hilltop 60km southeast of Telavi and full of 18th- and 19th-century architecture with a distinctly Italianate feel. A big tourism-oriented renovation program has seen a rash of new accommodation and eating options spring up, but the town’s original style has been maintained, with handsome galleried houses around a series of appealing plazas.
Sighnaghi has wonderful views over surrounding hills, the Alazani valley and the Caucasus beyond. The town was originally developed in the 18th century by King Erekle II, in part as a refuge for the area’s populace against Lezgin and Persian attacks. The name Sighnaghi comes from the Turkish siğinak (shelter).