Comprised of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, the Caucasus Region is probably one of the most understated travel destinations in the world. With so much to offer, it’s a surprise that these countries have only recently popped up on the traveler’s radar.
However, the region is getting the attention it deserves now, and we suggest you put it on your travel bucket list for the year. Here’s why:
Svaneti is an ancient region located in northwest Georgia, one of the three countries that make up the Caucasus region. This is the highest destination in the Caucasus Mountains that’s inhabited by people. It is also home to Ushguli, one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in all of Europe. Trekking up to this settlement is a great workout and a fun experience.
Svaneti is a truly mystical place that boasts a rich history. It is home to an indigenous population known as the Svans. The Svans have been here since long ago, and still speak in an ancient, unscripted tongue. As for things to see, you have the ancient towers of Svaneti. There are around 200 of them that have been here since the ninth century. Apart from the towers, Svaneti is home to five museums and 190 churches. Svaneti is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Shikahogh State Reserve
The Shikahogh State Reserve is the second largest forest reserve in Armenia, and to say that it’s stunning would be an understatement. This reserve is truly unspoiled, and proof of this lies in the fact that many of the sections here remain unexplored to this day. The reserve is home to vipers, leopards, wild goats, bears, and a host of other animals. It’s also home to over 1,000 plant species.
Icheri Sheher, also known as “Fortress” or “Old City,” is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The area is known for its stunning architectural structures, which are located all over. One of those beautiful structures is Maiden Tower, which has been standing here since the 12th century. Then, you have the Shirvanshah Palace, which is believed to have been constructed in the 13th century. Architectural feats aside, Icheri Sheher is also recognized for its handicrafts, especially ceramic work and textiles. You’ll find several shops that sell such items. In fact, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll while you go from shop to shop.
Situated on the Eastern side of Georgia, Kakheti is known for the variety of grapes it produces. But, that’s not all. There are many other wonderful things to experience here. For instance, you have the town of Sighnaghi, which is referred to as the “City of Love.” Apparently, couples come here to get married; something to do with romance in the air! Then, you have the monastery complex of Davit Gareja, which serves as a tranquil getaway, and several other attractions. It’s well worth the effort to explore Kakheti.
Armenia has always been known for its monasteries, and Noravank is the most beautiful among them. Constructed in the 13th century, the monastery is also home to the Astvatsatsin or Holy Mother of God church. There’s an interesting legend behind the church – the locals believe that God himself saved it during the Mongol invasion. So, if you do intend to visit monasteries in Armenia, Noravank should be number one on your list.