Afternoon at your own leisure.
You will start your discovery of Baku in the Old Town, the historical center of the city. Among the many beautiful buildings of the Old Town you will see:
Maiden Tower Tower – the iconic symbol of the city, whose origins are shrouded in mystery. No one knows quite when or why the tower was built, or where its name came from. One legend which has inspired songs and poems tells that the name stems from a king who fell in love with his daughter, the princess, and wanted to marry her. The princess tried to delay the marriage by asking her father to build the biggest tower she had ever seen. When the tower was completed, the princess went up to admire the view and threw herself into the waves of the Caspian Sea to avoid such a terrible fate. From the top of the tower you can enjoy wonderful views across the alleyways and minarets of the old town. The Tower also holds a museum which details the history and evolution of Baku, and is well worth a stop.
The 15th century The Palace of the Shirvanshahs which is dubbed as a “pearl of old Azerbaijani architecture.” This beautiful complex contains the main building of the palace, Divanhane, the shah’s mosque with a minaret and burial vaults as well as a mausoleum and remains of a bath houses.
Next on the itinerary is Synyk Gala Mosque – the most ancient temple in Azerbaijan which was built in 1078. The great mosque got its name “Synyk-Kala” when Baku was conquered by Peter I. The city was bombarded by cannons and one destroyed the upper part of the minaret but the main building survived. Since that day the mosque has been known as Synyk-Kala which means “Destroyed Tower.”
For your final morning stop you will visit the Juma Mosque, also known as Friday Mosque. The mosque is built on the site of a temple of pagan fire worshipers, with four arches still standing as evidence of the old building. The pagan temple was transformed into a mosque in the 14th century, the mosque you see today built by a Baku philanthropist two hundred years ago.
Your guide will suggest a restaurant for the lunch break, where you may order dolma or qutab – some of the most popular dishes of the Azerbaijani cuisine.
The afternoon part of the tour is dedicated to the modern side of Baku. During recent years many new significant buildings have been constructed in the city and are now considered as some of Baku’s key landmarks alongside the historical sights. You will have time to stroll along the Seaside Boulevard, and admire the Flame Towers which is the tallest skyscraper in the city, and covered in LEDs which display images of fire that can be seen from every part of the city.
In the evening you will gather for the Welcome Dinner to know more about your travel mates, discuss the details of the tour and enjoy the Azerbaijani cuisine in a fancy local restaurant.
Overnight in Baku.
Azerbaijan is home to over half of the world’s mud volcanoes. These fascinating geological structures draw academics from all over the world as well as tourists who believe that the mud holds various medicinal qualities. You will also have a chance to visit the Petroglyph Museum, which contains an exhibition of Gobustan petroglyphs (rock art) and provides some more detail about the art you will see out on the trail.
This is a half-day tour, and afterwards you will be transferred back to Baku. You will tour inside of Heydar Aliyev Center which was designed by famous architect Zaha Hadid.
Free afternoon. Overnight.
On the way you will visit Juma Mosque in Shamakha and Diri Baba Mausoleum in Maraza city. This unique mausoleum is located on a cliff, opposite an ancient cemetery and has many myths and legends attached to it. A grand two story building, it’s an incredibly picturesque location, situated in a grotto with its clean lines contrasting against the roughness of the cliff face and verdant vegetation.
Upon arrival to Sheki, you have an introduction tour of the city and visit the Sheki Khans Palace. The Khans summer palace is the only remaining structure from the larger palatial complex inside the Sheki Khans’ Fortress and has undergone substantial, sympathetic regeneration. The building is lavishly decorated, the tiles and stained glass found within the building are particularly appealing, as are the external murals and fountains which can be found in the gardens surrounding the palace.
You will also visit the Sheki History Museum, which is considered one of the most important for the curation and display of fabulous artifacts of the Khanate period.
This city is a true gem for sightseeing and your guide will help you uncover the very best of it. You will also have time to visit the mosque and bazaar so that you can experience the day to day life of local people in Sheki.
After the tour, you will be accommodated in a traditional, welcoming hotel.
You will start to discover this country from Kakheti, in the eastern part of Georgia, famous for the old tradition of wine-making. We will visit the nunnery of span style=”color: #549be0;” data-tooltip=”http://capitaltravel.ge/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/bodbe-signagi-300×171.jpg”>Bodbe, a significant pilgrimage site in Georgia due to its association with St Nino. 3km away are St Nino’s spring, believed to have been created through St Nino’s prayers and believed to have strong healing powers. We’ll then move on to the highlight of today’s tour – a visit to Signagi, the so-called “city of love”. Packed full of 19th century architecture Signagi resembles an Italian city with its Mediterranean-style colorful, small houses and narrow old streets. With views over the Alazani valley to the Caucasus on the horizon the town is a very pleasant place to while away an afternoon. You have time to visit the Signagi Museum- a well displayed, modern museum where you’ll learn more about life in Kakheti.
After the tour of Signagi, we’ll visit one of the traditional, authentic wineries of Kakheti where you will discover more about the traditional methods of wine making in Georgia, and perhaps sample a bottle or two.
Transfer to Tbilisi. Accommodation and overnight.
One of the highlights of the day is a visit to Narikala – the capital’s ancient fortress, where the stunning views over the city will open out before you. You’ll be whisked to the top in a cable car and after your visit will wander down by foot through the narrow and historic streets of the Old Town, among them the newly renovated Shardenikucha – the street which never sleeps, and one of Tbilisi’s nighttime hot spots.
After the city tour, you’ll be ready for lunch. Your guide will be happy to recommend a local restaurant so you can try some Georgian dishes or you are free to find your own spot if you prefer.
In the afternoon you’ll visit a beautiful and historic suburb of Tbilisi, Mtskheta – the old, legendary capital of Georgia, just 20km from the city center. The historic capital of Eastern Georgia (Kartli) and set at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi Rivers, Mtskheta has remained at the spiritual heart of Georgia since Christianity was established. The Svetitskhoveli cathedral remains at the center of the Orthodox church and has inspired many Georgian poets and artists over the years. Legend has it that a seamless robe of Christ’s is buried somewhere within the temple and you’ll find fragments of paintings dating back to the 11th century, including one depicting a hand which stories tell is the hand of the cathedrals architect which king Giorgi amputated to stop him making another cathedral as beautiful as Scetitskhoveli.
Afterwards you’ll visit Jvari Monastery (Monastery of the Cross), previously a pagan temple and latterly turned into Christian church. Perched on a windblown, rocky promontory, take some time to enjoy the exceptional scenery and take some photos of this amazing UNESCO world heritage listed structure.
In the evening return to the hotel and spend the evening exploring the city on your own.
Later on we will visit the pride of many Georgians – the ski resort Gudauri, located at an altitude of 2195m. With kilometers of ski runs, the cheapest ski passes in Europe and sun drenched south facing slopes the resort offers fabulous terrain for beginners and advanced skiers alike. In summer hiking, horse riding, birdwatching and climbing are some of the many activities on offer.
Finally, we will go up the mountain by 4×4 jeeps and enjoy the breath-taking views from the Gergety Trinity Church – built in medieval time the church is located on the slope of Mount Kazbek with the Caucus mountains rising in the background. The only cross-cupola church in Khevi, photos of the church and detached bell-tower have become symbols of Georgia, inspiring travelers to from across the world to visit Georgia.
After the tour, we will travel back to Tbilisi.
Later you will visit Gori, the regional capital of Shida Kartli in eastern Georgia. Situated on the road connecting east and west Georgia, Gori was an important medieval stronghold. The birthplace of Joseph Stalin, there is a rather biased but worthwhile museum dedicated to the man who was one of the key influencers in 20th century world history. Visitors can see the tiny house where Stalin spent his formative years; trace the story of his life through the various exhibitions. There is also a statue of Stalin in front of the city hall, unique because of its excellent preservation in a region where most statues of the man have been destroyed.
You will continue to discover Georgia and go to Imereti, a province situated along the upper reaches of the Rioni river and where some historians say the myth of Golden Fleece originated. You will visit the capital of this region, third largest city and Georgia and administrative capital of the country where the new parliament is functioning – the city of Kutaisi. A pretty city, cut in half by the Rioni river, with tree lines streets and numerous gardens filled with flowers in spring and summertime.
You will move on to visit the Gelati Monastery, a masterpiece of Georgia’s golden age and an important medieval complex. One of the main intellectual and cultural centers in medieval Georgia, Gelati housed an academy which brought together intellectuals from around the country. A huge number of manuscripts and murals are preserved at the monastery which is also the burial place of the Georgian king, David IV.
Accommodation and overnight in Kutaisi.
One of Georgia’s natural wonders the cave was discovered in 1984 and includes stalactites and stalagmites as well as many rivers. Lit with lovely illuminations visitors can enjoy petrified waterfalls and beautiful rock formations in the 6 cave complex. You will walk along a well laid path for about 1000m to the sound of quiet classical music which adds to the magical atmosphere in this beautiful place. Russian and English speaking guides are available to explain some of the geological features of the caves and the tour will end with a short boat ride on the underground river, a beautiful way to end an enchanting visit.
After you will go for an overnight in Akhaltsikhe – an ancient small town which has several significant sights and used to be an important battleground between Ottoman and Russian Empires. At least 800 years old Akhaltsikhe was an important administrative city during the Ottoman era. The city is situated on the both banks of the Potskhovi river, which separates old city in the north from the new city to the south. I
A tour of the medieval Rabati Fortress is a must if you are in the area. This impressive structure was recently restored and now stands as an iconic symbol of Georgia. The complex consists of Sargis Jakeli castle, a church from the late middle ages, a mosque and an 18th century palace. The fortress was originally names Lomisa Castle until the Ottomans conquered the area and renamed the fortification ‘Rabati.’ Ottomans ruled the surrounding land for centuries until Russia took it during the Treaty of Adrianople.
Restoration and reconstruction works began on Rabati May 2011. Destroyed buildings were restored by architects and engineers, using archive materials and images resulting in a sympathetic restoration of this stunning complex. The onsite museum houses over 25,000 important historic artifacts including manuscripts and scrolls dating back to the 11th century.
Overnight in Akhaltsikhe.
On the way you will see Gyumri – the second largest city of Armenia.
Accommodation and overnight in Yerevan.
You will visit the Armenian Genocide Museum which opened in 1995, 80 years after the genocide took place. Here you will learn about a dark chapter of the country’s history and will gain an understanding of the atrocities that took place. Next you will have the chance for a photo-stop in the Republic Square, which is surrounded by stunning architecture and features musical fountains in its center.
You will have the opportunity to view the House of Aznavour (the famous French-Armenian singer) before heading to the world famous ArArAt Brandy factory. At the factory you will have a tour where you will learn about the history of the brand and distillery, along with methods used in the production of the brandy and you can even enjoy a tasting!
After a lunch break, you will continue to the Matenadaran, a fabulous repository of ancient manuscripts, a research institute and museum. The Matenadaran holds one of the world’s richest depositories of medieval manuscripts and books which span a broad range of subjects, including history, philosophy, medicine, literature, art history and cosmography in Armenian and many other languages.
Return to the hotel. Free time. Overnight.
On the shore of the lake stands Sevanavank Monastery. An inscription in one of the monastery churches tells us that it was founded in 874 by Princess Mariam, the daughter of Ashot I. At the time, Armenia was still struggling to free itself from Arab rule and the monastery became a key religious site for the country’s Christian population. The buildings you see today are excellent examples of medieval Armenian architecture and your tour will provide a wonderful introduction to this fascinating country’s history and religion.
You will also go to Dilijan, a balneal resort and one of the most famous cities of Armenia.
Today you will go to the ancient capital of Armenia – Vagarshapat, also known as Echmiadzin. It’s unofficially dubbed as “the holy city of Armenia” because of Echmiadzin Cathedral, the mother of the Armenian Church. Considered the oldest cathedral in the world, the original church is thought to have been built between 301-303AD, replacing a pagan temple. Tradition tells us that the church was built by Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of Armenia. Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 2000 the cathedral is an important place of pilgrimage.
We will then proceed to one of the most impressive sights of Armenia – Garni Temple – a pagan Temple of the Sun, built in the Roman era and reconstructed in the Soviet period. This is the only building of its kind in all post-USSR countries and now stands as one of the most iconic landmarks of Armenia. Finally, you will visit – Geghard – a monastic complex and unique architectural construction showcasing Armenian medieval architecture. Founded in the 4th century by Saint Gregory at the site of a sacred spring the monastery is partly carved out of the mountain. The name Geghard means “the Monastery of the Spear”, and stems from the spear which wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, and now displayed in the Echmiadzin treasury.
After the tour you return to Yerevan. Overnight.
Your driver will meet you at the hotel lobby for the scheduled transfer to Yerevan International Airport.
We are looking forward to arrange next vacations for you in the future!