On the hills of Georgia

Text: Natalia Remmer


The town in the Kura Valley met us with night lights on the holy mountain of Mtatsminda, where today the TV tower rises, fresh mountain air and some mysterious silence, absolutely unusual for capitals and big cities. Simple and strict, without excessive gloss and gloss. We’ll talk more about architectural monuments, but first I would like to dwell on the main attraction of the Georgian capital, and, I am sure, the whole country is "Sakartvelo" (as the Georgians themselves call their homeland). This, of course, is the locals. A nation whose character has been tempered for centuries in battles, surviving victories and failures, rallying and dividing, but nevertheless invincible and precisely aware of its exclusiveness.

Georgians, almost everyone, are characterized by some almost unbelievable self-esteem with which they carry themselves through life with their heads held high. Moreover, it does not depend on the level of wealth, nor on social status. Georgia and its people are inseparable from its history! In its rich cultural heritage - in music, literature, dance - braveness, wisdom, love of freedom and hatred of enemies, generosity, hospitality and cheerfulness are sung. At the same time, hospitality in this case should be put in the first place. Here they say briefly and clearly: the guest is from God.

Mother of Georgia is looking at us from the top of the Salalaki hill: she holds in her left hand a cup of wine to meet friends, and in her right hand - for those who came with bad intentions. From the observation deck on Mount Mtatsminda, one can see a monument to St. Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Iberian king and the great commander who laid the foundation of the modern capital, flaunts over the highest Mechet rock, over the bend of the Kura.

In fact, there are several legends about the founding of Tbilisi.

One of them says that Vakhtang Gorgasali hunted in the local forests with a falcon, which, chasing a pheasant, fell into the gorge and, along with its prey, clawed in a hot spring. Having examined the surroundings, the king ordered the city of "warm keys" to be laid (the 6th century AD) - this is how the name Tbilisi is translated from Georgian.

Until now, the famous sulfur baths attract tourists from many countries of the world. They say that not visiting them during a visit to Tbilisi is like coming to Paris and not climbing the Eiffel Tower. Alexander Pushkin enthusiastically responded to visiting baths in his "Journey to Arzrum": "I have never met anything more luxurious than Tiflis baths in Russia or Turkey." It is this quote that still adorns the entrance to the sulfur catacombs.

If we continue our discussions about the characteristic features of the Georgian nation, then, of course, the Orthodox faith remains one of its main bonds. And in this sense, Georgia, which adopted the Byzantine religion back in 342 BC. e., much more confidently can be called a stronghold of Orthodoxy than, for example, Kievan Rus. In 2002, the Church of the Holy Trinity, better known as Tsminda Sameba, was opened on the hill of St. Elijah, one of the highest in the world and the largest in Georgia.

He successfully fit into the panorama of the city, becoming its symbol, along with the Narikala fortress and the mountain of Mtatsminda already mentioned above. The temple seemed to me more sincere and modest, without an excessive desire for boyar luxury and abundance, without the notorious imperial ambitions. No matter what they say about the current and regularly changing authorities, Tbilisi is growing and building.

True, new architectural masterpieces do not always fit well with the appearance of the ancient capital. The "modern" glass constructions that can be said to disfigure the appearance of the historical center - first of all, the so-called Public Services House (or "mushroom house") and the even more ridiculous covered "Peace Bridge" across the Kura River, look rather foolish and naive. However, Georgians have long learned to relate to such things with humor. In the evening, the streets of the old city are filled with noisy fun and loud songs, and it seems that Tbilisi is becoming even warmer and more welcoming. In fact, even having met a Georgian once, in his face he will almost certainly be able to find a friend, which means that he will have to come back again and again to a town unlike any other in the world.

The sun, air and water ...

As well as wine and a casino. However, now is not about that ... So, in the morning of the next day, having had plenty of fun in the streets of Tbilisi, we set off high in the mountains. Our path lay through the "Norwegian fjords" and alpine meadows to one of the most wonderful and picturesque corners of Georgia - Kazbegi. Yes, that same “distant, longed-for breg” from Alexander Pushkin’s poem “Monastery on Kazbek”, familiar from the school curriculum. Stepantsminda settlement is practically a state in a state. Located on the Georgian Military Highway, at an altitude of over 1700 meters.

He comfortably placed a school, a local club, a hospital, several hotels and even a university in a small valley. With a population of only a thousand people. The beauty of local landscapes can be described in the most striking colors, but what can not be expressed in words is the purity of the mountain air with a slight admixture of pine needles and, probably, a million healing herbs blooming here in the summer.

In 2012, in the village, at the foot of the very mountain of St. Stepan (it was she who gave the name to the village) a new hotel was opened - Kazbegi Rooms Hotel - the first and so far the only one in this chain (later hotels of this chain will be opened in Tbilisi and Batumi). Once at this resort, instantly transported to 30-40 years ago. In those days when there was a Soviet camp site in its place, where students gathered in the dining room in the evenings, joked, laughed, clanged dishes, and the next morning - a cheerful, friendly company, with backpacks and ice axes - went to conquer Kazbek.

Today, wooden French stools have been replaced by vintage French furniture, plasma panels have replaced the radio, instead of a common shower, a huge pool and spa have appeared, and the rest is the same atmosphere of lightness and carefree youth. To give the hotel an identity, Soviet posters were found in the basement of one of the old cinemas, and they decorated the walls of rooms and corridors. Where else in Georgia will you find signs in Russian ?! The rooms have old telephones with disks, log floors and a shower that can be set to ice water. Fresh, clean mountain air, the mooing of cows and the cry of roosters - instead of morning azan ...

Indeed, you need to go to Georgia to get oxygen, there is something to fill the lungs with. In Kazbegi, you can completely abandon reality: just go to a spacious terrace, lie on a soft couch and watch the clouds float all day, touching the top of the famous five-thousand-meter-high. Against this background is the very ark sung by the poet, the Trinity Church in Gergeti. It was built in the XIV century at an altitude of 2170 meters.

"White ragged clouds dragged over the top of the mountain, and a secluded monastery, illuminated by the rays of the sun, seemed to float in the air, carried by clouds." This is how the temple was described by Alexander Pushkin in 1829. Two centuries have passed, and nothing has changed. Joy and freedom - with such feelings we left this treasured corner, by the way, very popular among the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula. However, people come here from Europe and Australia. Among Russians, the hotel has already become a popular venue for weddings. Very soon, a ski slope will be built near the hotel (which, of course, will “pull off” some tourists from the neighboring village of Gaudauri). They also promise to equip a helipad: then the flight from Tbilisi in flying weather will take no more than half an hour instead of the current two along the mountain serpentine. In a word, it's worth returning to check.

Atypical low-coster

From Dubai to Tbilisi and back we were delivered by the brand new “Airbus” of FlyGeorgia airline. Three hours of comfortable flight, hot meals on board and, of course, a good selection of Georgian wines and a friendly crew - all at the price of a low-cost flight. In other words, Georgian hospitality begins on board the ship!

The editors of the Russian Emirates thank FlyGeorgia airline for organizing a trip to Georgia, as well as the Holiday Inn Tbilisi and Kazbegi Rooms Hotel for their hospitality!

Watch the video: Hylo Brown The Hills of Georgia 1962 (February 2020).