Many countries have ancient beginnings. But very few can, like Georgia, trace their history back nearly two million years. The discovery of 1.8 million year old remains in the hills just south of Tbilisi provides the missing link in human expansion between Africa and Europe. There are many reasons to come to Georgia, and gold is just one of them. Our museums and even stories are encased with gold: gold statues and figurines, belts and crowns from ancient tribes and peoples, like the Colchis. It was the Colchis, Georgia’s ancient people, who are widely believed to have inspired some of our most famous visitors: Jason and the Argonauts. According to legend, the Colchis owned a famous, superb Golden Fleece and Jason and the Argonauts were sent to claim it and bring it back to Greece. The fleece itself was probably inspired by the practice of sifting for gold in the high, fast flowing mountain rivers of Georgia by leaving a sheep’s fleece in the river overnight. When taken out of the river, hung from a tree and dried out, the gold can literally be brushed out. The whole story of Jason’s quest for the fleece and his meeting with the Georgian princess Medea, the famous sorceress daughter of Aeetes, King of Colchis, can still be enjoyed today in Homer’s The Odyssey.
As one of the first countries in the world to convert to Christianity, in just the 4th century AD, today Georgia is proud to provide for full religious freedom. While the majority of the country is Christian, Georgia has always been a home for people who belong to different religions… It is one of the few countries where churches, mosques, synagogues and chapels co-exist peacefully side by side. Wandering through Tbilisi one can lose count of the religious buildings and memorials, but you never feel like it is too much. Bagrati Cathedral The construction of Bagrati Cathedral, named after Bagrat III – the first king of united Georgia, started at the end of the 10th century and was completed in the early years of the 11th century. The Cathedral holds special importance in the history of Georgia as an architectural and cultural monument. Gelati Monastery The cathedral is situated 11 km westwards from Kutaisi. The Gelati Monastery, with its main buildings erected between the 12th and 17th centuries, was an important religious, cultural and educational center of Georgia. The monastery complex is included in UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage list and its architecture is well known for wonderful mosaics and frescos. King David the Builder, the most celebrated King of Georgia, is buried in the yard of the monastery. Motsameta Monastery Motsameta Monastery is located 6 kilometers from Kutaisi. The present day church dates back to the 11th century, however there are historic records stating that a church was constructed here as far back as the 8th century. Motsameta attracts crowds of tourists with an ancient superstition: if one crawls three times under the ark and makes a wish while touching the hallows, the wish will come true.