The unpronounceably named southern flank of Georgia is a highly scenic region whose cultural and natural attractions have unfortunately not prevented it from becoming one of the country’s most economically backward areas. Its biggest attractions are the spectacular 12th-century cave city of Vardzia and the beautiful Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. Also here are the popular spa resort of Borjomi and the ski resort of Bakuriani. Landscapes are very varied, from the alpine forests and meadows around Borjomi and Bakuriani to the bare volcanic canyons of the Vardzia area.
Historically known as Meskheti, the region has played an important part in Georgian history. It was part of Tao-Klarjeti, the collection of princedoms from which the Bagrationi dynasty expanded its power in the 9th and 10th centuries, leading to the unification of most of Georgia under their rule in 1008. A cradle of Georgian culture, Tao-Klarjeti extended well into what’s now northeast Turkey, where many interesting Georgian churches and monasteries may still be seen. Tao-Klarjeti fell under Ottoman rule from the 1550s to the 1870s. It was briefly part of independent Georgia after the Russian Revolution, but most of it was reoccupied by Turkey when the Red Army attacked Georgia in 1921.
Javakheti is the more elevated southeastern half of Samtskhe-Javakheti. Bordering Armenia, it has a majority Armenian population.
Samtskhe-Javakheti destination guides
Azerbaijan, Georgia & Armenia
The Caucasus region of Central Asia holds a wealth of unexplored territories. Wedged between two seas, surrounded by Europe's largest mountain range and straddling two continents, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia are home to some extraordinarily beautiful scenery and incredibly hospitable people.