Europe > Caucasus > Georgia (country) > Samtskhe-Javakheti > Vardzia
Vardzia is a cave monastery site in Georgia, on the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain. The first cave dwellings were created in the second half of the 12 century during the reign of Giorgi III. The site is now a part of the Vardzia Historical–Architectural Museum-Reserve. Vardzia was seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1283, but soon partially rebuilt.
Most people do an organized tour from Akhaltsikhe or Borjomi.
By public transport; from Akhaltsikhe there are three marshrutkas/buses a day. Vardzia to Akhaltsikhe bus times are: 9am, 1pm, and 3pm.
Admission to Vardzia is 3GEL.
Vardzia itself is only walkable.
Vanis Kvabebi, another cave monastery, is less than an hours walk away.
- Church of the Dormition. A late 12th century church decorated by elaborate mural paintings. Among them are the portraits of Giorgi III and of queen Tamar, his daughter and successor, during whose reign the paintings were created. Other painting include scenes from the New Testament and images of saints.
There is a cafe opposite the ticket office which operates only in peak season.
There are a number of guesthouses around the Vardzia area.
Staff and people hanging around the Vardzia ticket office will likely offer you a guesthouse if you so need one.
One such is Gocha Guesthouse, run by Gocha who checks your tickets on entry. His guesthouse is in the nearby village of Nakalakevi. He will take you to and from the guesthouse according to his work hours. Comfortable beds, wifi, and homecooked meals. He charges 20 Lari a night for a bed, 10 Lari for dinner, 10 for breakfast, and 5 if you try either his homemade wine of vodka. He may offer to take you to the Madame [Nuns] Monastery and will charge you 10 Lari for his troubles. He speaks little English but enough to get by.
- Vanis Kvabebi is another cave monastery nearby.