If one wants to feel medieval spirit of Georgia, should visit Khada Gorge. It is one of the most marvelous locality of the country, which it astonishes a visitor with spectacular nature and amazing architecture. Towers from feudal past stand alongside modern houses. They are still well preserved, but desolate. According to the legend, golden rams used to pasture at the main tower, which is located further from the settlement and high up in the mountains. These golden rams protected the gorge from evil. Nowadays no one lives in these towers, only sanctuaries are kept there. Decades ago people preferred to build more up-to-date dwellings. But due to hard living conditions, absence of school, hospital and shops they left ancestral place – moved to the city. Only few families stay in the gorge year round. Others arrive during summer time or great holidays, especially local religious celebrations.
Khada Gorge is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) far from Tbilisi, in Mtsketa-Mtianeti region. It is near Gudauri ski resort, starts at Kvesheti village. Total length of the gorge is about 7km (4.4 miles). The way runs along the twisted river, then goes higher and higher. Small villages stand on either side like eagle’s nest. Some of them consist of several houses and it’s kind of shocking for those, for whom definition of “village” means at least thousand inhabitants. Sights and settlements can be reached by car till the end of the gorge. Khada also represents excellent place for trekking. Camp or picnic can be arranged any place – at the waterfall, near the river or on the valleys near the village.
Major sights of the gorge:
- Elguja’s Fortress is first sight of the gorge. In 1881 famous Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi described it in his novel “Elguja”. It is still well preserved and represents a fortification built in the slope of the mountain. The Fortress is constructed by bare stones, without cement. It overlooks the surrounding and had intelligence-defensive functions. Its defenders were the first who noticed enemy and fought against them.
- Acidic water – on the way to the villages, on one place the soil is covered by rust. It’s because of acidic water, which naturally runs from the ground. It contains useful minerals and iron. As it’s considered, the water is characterized by healing properties.
- Korogho fortress and church are constructed on the high mountain. It’s amazing how the builders could carry heavy materials there. The village existed in the early middle ages. It connected the gorge to the Northern Caucasus. Locals protected the road and gave shelter to the people during invasions. The church has unique relief images – 12 scenes, which describe its construction process: oxen carry stones, women take food to the builders, people prepare mortar, architect stands with model of the church, etc. Such decoration is very rare in Georgia. In other words, ruins of Korogho are unique in the whole country.
- Towers, towers everywhere. Khada gorge is known as “place with 60 towers”. Every family in every village had own one – once they served as residential and defensive buildings. Otherwise it was impossible to survive in the hostile environment: Locals often used to fight against enemies. Some of the important towers are Tsetskhijvari (which dates back to IX-X centuries. It has strategic location, overlooks to whole panorama. When its guards noticed enemy, set fire to warn people about upcoming threat), Mindelauri Tower (belonged to Mindelauri family, dates to X-XI centuries. It has inscription into old Georgian alphabet Asomtavruli and 2 faces, which symbolize sun and moon); Tower of Naraidze family in the village Tskere – it has carved image of the hand on the wall.
- Waterfall – beautiful place to have a rest and enjoy with splendid nature.
In short, Khada Gorge is for those, who want to experience new adventures and get lost in the medieval villages. Calmness and wildness of the spot is combined with breathtaking beauty of the mountains. Indeed, it’s worth to visit!