Ananuri is a castle complex on the Aragvi River in Georgia, about 45 miles (70 kilometres) from Tbilisi.
Ananuri was a castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi, a feudal dynasty which ruled the area from the 13th century. The castle was the scene of numerous battles.
In 1739, Ananuri was attacked by forces from a rival duchy, commanded by Shanshe of Ksani and was set on fire. The Aragvi clan was massacred. However, four years later, the local peasants revolted against rule by the Shamshe, killing the usurpers and inviting King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. However, in 1746, King Teimuraz was forced to suppress another peasant uprising, with the help of King Erekle II of Kakheti. The fortress remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.
Gudauri is a ski resort located on the south-facing plateau of The Greater Caucasus Mountain Range in Georgia. The resort is situated in the Stepantsminda District, along the Georgian Military Highway near the Cross Pass, at an elevation of 2,200 meters (7,200 ft.) above sea level with skiable area enjoying maximum exposure to the sun. Gudauri lies 120 km to the north of the capital Tbilisi and two hours drive from the Tbilisi International Airport or even a short helicopter flight from the capital. The resort offers high quality skiing opportunities. The slopes of Gudauri are completely above the tree line and are best for free-riders and are generally considered to be avalanche-safe. The ski season lasts from December to April. Heliskiing is also available throughout the season.
Stepantsminda, formerly Kazbegi, is a townlet in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of north-eastern Georgia. Historically and ethnographically, the town is part of the Khevi province. It is the center of the Kazbegi Municipality.
According to tradition, Stepantsminda, literally “Saint Stephan”, was named so after a Georgian Orthodox monk Stephan, who constructed a hermitage at this location on what later became the Georgian Military Highway. It came under the control of a local feudal magnate, the Chopikashvili clan, who were in charge of collecting tolls on travelers in the area in the late 18th century. After the expansion of the Russian Empire into the Kingdom of Georgia in the early 19th century, the people of the region revolted against Russian rule. However, the local lord Gabriel Chopikashvili, son of Kazi-Beg, remained steadfast in his loyalty to Russia and helped to suppress the revolt. In return, he was promoted to officer in the Russian Army. He adopted the surname Kazbegi, and the village under his control was also frequently referred to as “Kazbegi”. The name was officially changed to Kazbegi already under the Soviet rule in 1925. Gabriel Chopikashvili-Kazbegi’s grandson was the famed Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi, who was born in this town. In 2006, the town reverted to its original name of Stepantsminda.
GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH
Gergeti Trinity Church is a popular name for Holy Trinity Church near the village of Gergeti in Georgia. The church is situated on the right bank of the river Chkheri (the left tributary of the river Tergi), at an elevation of 2170 meters (7120 feet), under Mount Kazbegi.
The Gergeti Trinity Church was built in the 14th century, and is the only cross-cupola church in Khevi province. The separate belltower dates from the same period as the church itself. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by the vastness of nature has made it a symbol for Georgia. The 18th century Georgian author Vakhushti Batonishvili wrote that in times of danger, precious relics from Mtskheta, including Saint Nino’s Cross were brought here for safekeeping. During the Soviet era, all religious services were prohibited, but the church remained a popular tourist destination. The church is now an active establishment of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church
The church is a popular waypoint for trekkers in the area, and can be reached by a steep 3 hour climb up the mountain, or around 30 minutes by jeep up a rough mountain trail.