Bagrati Cathedral, Georgia Republic © Halaston
The Georgia Republic is fast becoming a popular tourist hub. Offering vast mountain ranges with superb walking, skiing and snowboarding opportunities, a magnificent sub-tropical coastline with a temperate climate, immense architectural and archaeological sites, and a modern capital displaying contemporary Georgian culture, there is plenty for visitors to see and do in Georgia.
Located on the strip of land between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea known as the Caucasus, Georgia has been continuously inhabited since the Stone Age. The busiest trade route of the ancient world, the Silk Road, ran through Georgia, enriching the region both economically and culturally. Because of its transcontinental location the country has been invaded and occupied throughout the centuries by various forces such as the Persians, Romans, Arab Caliphs and Mongols. This turbulent history is best seen in the country's impressive archaeological ruins, some dating back to the 5th century BC, and in its impressive fortresses and churches.
Having gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has only recently started to really embrace its potential as a tourist destination. Known for their sincere hospitality, Georgians do their best to make visitors feel welcome. Often guests are invited to dine at residents' homes to partake in the supra tradition, a sampling of the local cuisine which is an amazing blend of Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Persian and European flavours. Such occasions are marked by toasts of wine, reflecting the 3,000 year-old Georgian viticultural heritage.
The capital, Tbilisi, named after the warm springs found in the area, has a distinct Mediterranean atmosphere. Visitors can wander the winding narrow streets and indulge in the café culture, visit some of the finest museums and art galleries in the region, as well as the theatre and Turkish baths. At the other end of this small country, the warm Black Sea invites travellers to discover its more isolated beaches and visit the many local markets, spilling over with fresh produce from the orange, banana and lemon groves found in the area.