This was a day of travel to Kazvegi in the high Caucasus Mountains. Our journey took us through pastoral villages along the Military Highway, the main road north to one of two natural passes through the mountains. We passed the Zhinvali reservoir and navigated countless hairpin turns as we climbed to the highest point through the Jvari pass. During our journey, we stopped at the Jvari church atop a hill overlooking the town of Mtskheta and the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers.
The church stands where Saint Nino, the most revered saint in Georgia, set her cross upon a pagan site. Saint Nino was an ever-present figure throughout our trip. She is responsible for Georgia’s adoption of Christianity as the national religion.
We visited the 11th century Sveti Tskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, the largest cathedral in Georgia, which is built on the site of the first church in Georgia and is where Christ’s robe is reputedly buried. Lunch was at the Iago winery where we were hosted by Marina, one of the country’s few women winemakers. As well as a tour, we were treated to a bread-making lesson. The bread was cooked on the inside of a charcoal-fired clay oven and a number of us tried a hand (with varying success) at slapping the dough into the insides of the oven.
As we moved on, we stopped at the soviet-constructed Russian-Georgian Peace Memorial overlooking the valley with its mosaics depicting the cultural highlights of both countries. At the last stage of our journey, as we descended into the Darali Gorge and the town of Kazbegi, where we visited a felt studio and learned about the labor-intensive process of turning the raw materials of wool, silk, and herbal dyes into beautiful wall hangings and other household and personal items.
All of our rooms during our stay in Kazbegi, faced Mount Kazbegi, the third tallest mountain in the Caucasus at 16,500 feet. It was an exquisite site at any time of day.
[Holly Jobe, Recorder]