Hidden Tunels and Sacred Wall Paintings: Cave City of Vardzia, Georgia
The Cave City of Vardzia is a house of religious retirement, also referred to as a cave monastery, located near Aspindza, towards the southern end of Georgia. Queen Tamar founded the cave monastery in the year of 1185, back when the building was used as a protection shelter against the Mongols.
This thirteen-story complex consisted of six thousand apartments. Back then, Vardzia consisted of a throne room, a church and an intricate irrigation system for watering the farmlands. The complex was accessible only through the hidden tunnels that were located near the Mtkvari River. Today, the Cave Town of Vardzia is a foremost tourist spot in the Samtskhe-Javakheti area of Georgia. The location is preserved by a group of monks and can be visited by the public by paying a nominal fee. Taxicabs, also known as Marshrutkas, in the local language, travel back and forth from the city of Akhaltsikhe to Vardzia on a daily basis. On one hand, one can see about three hundred halls and apartments that have been preserved and can be visited by tourists while, on the other, the old irrigation pipes in some tunnels, still transport drinkable water.
A little travel advice: Getting there is possible by reaching the small town of Aspindza. From here on, you can go on foot, as long as you have a good tent and trekking equipment. Always ensure to carry lots of water and food along with you while you visit the place, as Vardzia lacks any roadside restaurants. However, a riverside picnic before climbing up to the city is always a good option.