The cave town of Vardzia
Vardzia Travel Blog› entry 19 of 30 › view all entries
Today we visited the cave town of Vardzia and Khertvisi Fortress. The cave town of Vardzia is said to date from 1185, when Queen Tamar of Georgia was riding through the valley with her Uncle. She wandered off to explore some caves, and when her uncle called out for her she shouted out “Vardzia” (“Here I am Uncle”). The caves were developed into a city, with 3000 caves over 19 levels. Most of these were destroyed by an earthquake in 1456, with only 550 caves remaining.
Khertvisi fortress is one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia, founded ~200 BCE. The fortress is old enough that it was destroyed by Alexander the Great on his campaign to the east. The present walls are much younger, built in 1354, but today the only inhabitants were a cluster of four cows, who for some reason had climbed up into the fortress and had taken up residence in one of the towers. As has been the case across rural Georgia, the cluster of houses around the fortress was teeming with farm life, with a pace of donkeys, a rafter of turkey chicks and three adorable puppies who really liked to have their bellies scratched.