Caving, canyoning, kayaking, trekking, biking, bird watching and boating are all activities that can be enjoyed while visiting the Samegrelo Region. Marked trails near the Martvili Monastery allow you to enjoy the canyons of Balda, Gachedili, Gochipe and the Motena and Toba caves and cascade waterfall. In the Kolkheti national park visitors can also join in a variety of wildlife tours.
Kolkheti national park
Kolkheti national park – The national park is located in western Georgia. It covers the eastern zone of the Black Sea coast and the basin of the Paliastomi Lake. The park was established to protect and ensure the survival of the wetland eco system.
The Kolkheti national park and Paliastomi Lake are famous throughout the Caucasus for their abundant birdlife and unique scenery. Trekking, camping and horseback riding are possible in the Tsalenikha forest and along the Tekhuri River.
What to see in Samegrelo Region
Poti, or “Phasis” is mentioned as far back as the 8th century BC when the ancient Greek historian Strabo wrote: “In Phasis there are people speaking 60 different languages”. Today the city is as lively and busy as it was counties ago. Thanks to its location on the Silk Road at the crossroad of Asia and Europe, it was one of the world’s busiest ports and the bustling activity in the city has not change for centuries. It is still main port and trade center of Georgia.
Anaklia is a rapidly developing Black Sea resort located in the Zugdidi Municipality, where the Enguri River flows in to the Black Sea. Many of its sun-worshipping visitors come to see the ruins of the old fortress, which dates back to 1703. Today Anaklia’s beauty attracts many interests from international local investors.
Samegrelo is rich in karst caves and many of them are located in the Migaria mountain system. They include Zesnakhe, Potoltsvena or “fall of the leaves”, and the Velvet Caves with are the most well known. The caves are a paradise for cave enthusiasts due to the numerous explored and unexplored caverns. The glacier lake Tobavarchkhili (2,643m) is worth a special mention, as it is only possible to reach this glacier lake after a 20 km hike from Chkhorotsku.
Nokalakevi, is a truly fascinating place, literally meaning “the place where a town was”, Nokalakevi was called Tsikhegoji – the fortress of Kuji. According to Georgian history, the fortress was built by Kuji – Duke of Egrisi and Svaneti in the 3rd Century BC. It is thought to be the mythological city of Aia, capital of the kindom of Colchis, and home of the fabled Golden Fleece.
Archeological excavations have found several different layers of civilization in the Nokalakevi territory. The oldest layer dates back to the 8th – 7th century BC. Various valuable items have been unearthed here, including wine vessels, golden, silver, bronze and glass adornments, diverse pottery and ceramic objects. The ruins of the ancient palaces, Christian churches, bath, and tunnels have also been identified and preserved.
The Martvili Monastery
In the 7th century the monastery of Saint Martyrs was built in the village of Martvili. Its foundation is a huge oak tree that for centuries served as a pagan idol. People used to worship this tree as God of fertility, fruitfulness and prosperity. In the 1st century one of Christ’s Apostles – Andrew the First, converted the natives to Christianity who then cut down the oak tree and in its place built a church named after Andrew the First. The church is cross-domed, and paintings on the walls date back to the 6th and 7th century. A two-story cathedral was built next to the church in the 10th century. In the middle ages the Martvili Monastery was a center of culture and education, attracting many writes, translators and philosophers.
The Rukhi Castle
The Rukhi castle is located in the village of Rukhi, on the left bank of the Enguri River. It was built in the 17th century by the duke of Samegrelo, Levan Dadiani II, and served as the major fortification for the Dukes of Samegrelo. The castle consists of a citadel and an inner courtyard with two impressive towers.
The Dadiani Palace
The Dadiani Palace, located in Zugdidi, belonged to the former Dukes of Samegrelo. In 1921 a museum was founded in the palace housing items and archives of the palace’s rulers. The museum complex consists of the palaces of Ekaterine Chavchavadze – Dadiani and Niko Dadiani (19th century), a church and a decorative garden laid out by the Dadianis. Niko Dadiani’s palace contains the largest ballroom in all of Georgia and the palace garden is planted with unique trees and bushes from all over the world.
In 1850 Prince David Dadiani, opened a museum in the palace. It housed a collection of ancient stone-age items, European military weapons of the Middle Ages, paintings, and fine works of art.
Today more than 50,000 rare exhibits are on display at the museum. Among its collection of relics of European monarchs and imperil families there is a death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte. The museum also hoses the relics of Christian saints, including the Shroud of St. Mary, which was brought to Georgia in 1453. The protected arm of St. Marine, parts of St. Kvirike, St. George and John the Baptist are also hosed here.
Dadiani Palaces Historical and Architectural Museum
The museum complex includes palaces of the Samegrelo Queen Ekaterine Chavchavadze – Dadiani and Prince Niko Dadiani, a court church, and a botanic garden. In the museum you will see goldsmith works from the 1st century BC – 9th century AD; archeological materials representing antique period Greek and Georgian culture; a collection of Christian sacred objects, samples of European applied art; relics of Samegrelo princes, and collection of paintings from Russian, French and English artists.
The Tsaishi Cathedral
The Tsaishi Cathedral Curch of St. Mary is administered by the Zugdidi and Tsaishi Eparchy of Georgian Orthodox Church. The domed church was built in the 13th – 14th centuries but was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in the 17th century. The oldest part of the church is located outside the wall and judging by its interior dates back to the 11th century.
The Tsalenjikha Cathedral
The Tsalenjikha Cathedral Curch (10th – 11th centuries) stands on a hill outside Tsalenjikha. A bilingual Greek – Georgian inscription on the South-Western pillar of the church reveals that the interior of the church was frescoed by Cyrus Emanuel Eugenicus, a Byzantine artist from Constantinople. The Mengrelian Price Levan Dadiani II and his wife Nestan-Darejani are buried in the Western area of the church.
The Khobi Church
The Khobi church is located on the left bank of the rive Khobistskali, three kilometers from the city of Khobi, in the village of Nojikhevi. In old times it was called The Khobi Monastery. The Khobi Monastery is an architectural complex consisting of a church, a palace, a bell tower, and the ruins of buildings. The stone church tower, with seven windows, is one of the biggest bell towers in Georgia and was once covered in frescoes. Inside its walls stands a 13th century church , decorated with ornaments and frescoes.
The Kortskheli Church
The Kortskheli Church sand on a hill eight kilometers North-East of Zugdidi on the road of Tsalenjikha. From there visitors can see the mountains of Svaneti and Abkhazia, Samegrelo, the lowland of Kolkhi, and the Black Sea. According to historical documents, the church was built and frescoes in the 17th century by Levan Dadiani II.
The Zugdidi Church
This church was built especially for an icon of the Virgin Mary of Vlakerni. The icon, as well as the waistband of the Virgin Mary, was regarded as the most sacred items of Samegrelo. The icon was taken to Russia and given to Alexander I with the hope that the Emperor would one day return this relic to Georgia. Lates, the Emperor did return the icon along with the finances for building a church to Levan Dadiani.
The Poti Cathedral
The Guria – Samegrelo eparchy church was established in Poti during the 19th century. The military governor of Kutaisi established a committee for the building of a Cathedral on June 17th 1895 with the permission of the Russian Commander. The church was meant to be built in a Georgian architectural style, but the Russian government rejected this project and the architects Zelenko and Marfeldi had to submit a new design. According to that proposal, it was intended for the church to be a small version of the Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople with enough room for 2000 parishioners. On the North side of the church icons were made in the Greek-Byzantine style; the south side icon were in a Georgian-Byzantine style, and the central side icons were in a Russian-Byzantine style. Saint Nino and Saint David the Builder were featured amongst these icons.
In 1932 the communist governors of Poti turns the church into a theatre. It was given back to the patriarchy in 2005 an has now returned to its original function.
Resorts in Samegrelo Region
Mukhuri & Lugela
The mineral water of Lugela comes from the gorge of the Khobistskhali River, located in the upper part of the Samegrelo range. The famous resort of Mukhuri is situated three kilometer from Lugela. The water here is clear with a naturally high mineral content, and has a unique property that this water doesn’t freeze – even at – 25 OC.
With a season lasting from June to October, Lebarde is a thermal spa resort located on the Egrisi mountain range at 1,600 meters above sea level. Winters are mild and summers are quite cool with an average temperature of around 16 OC in August. The mountain air and health restoring properties of the mineral waters are good for locals and visitors alike.
Menji, a thermal spa resort in Senaki, is situated in the Tsivi River gorge and has a subtropical climate, with mild snowless winters and warm, humid summers. The resort is open all year round and boasts a special mineral water that is said to help cure many diseases and conditions.