Visit 4th century monasteries in the Caucasus region

Caucasus monasteries


What was I thinking having only one experience on my list about the region, focusing only in the Caucasus monasteries? I’m so happy I decided to spend a month going around all 3 countries of the region, enjoying wine, mountains and monasteries!

What’s the Caucasus, you ask? This little region trapped between Europe and Asia, is, at the same time, part of both and of neither. Because of its strategic position, surrounded by Turkey, Russia and Iran, it has always been seen as a place to conquered. Passed around from Persians, to Ottomans, to the Russian empire, it finally reached independence, as 3 countries of the 15 successors of the USSR (plus a few disputed territories).

What I find fascinating is that the identities and cultures of each of these countries survived throughout all the invasions. Each of them has its own language, religion, traditions, cuisine, art… and they are completely different from the other ones. Another thing that amazed me was the geographical diversity. You can’t believe you’re in the same country when in a few hours you can go from tea plantations to over 5000 meters peaks.

Logistics are a nightmare when you start planning a trip around the region. There’s no crossing between Armenia and Azerbaijan. You can’t enter Azerbaijan with a Nagorno-Karabakh visa, which is officially an Azerbaijani region, although it declared independence and now it only can be accessed through Armenia, who actually has control over it. There’re two territories in Georgia that are disputed with Russia, although both declared a de facto independence. Abkhazia you can visit, from both Georgia and Russia (even though the Georgian border was closed when I tried to go), but you can’t exit through a different country than the one you entered it. The other one is South Ossetia, which can’t be visited at the moment. Arggg! It’s so hard to keep up!

So, to make it simple, the most logical way of doing it is Azerbaijan-> Georgia (+Abkhazia) -> Armenia (+NK). I knew I’d arrive overland from Tabriz in Iran to Baku, and I’d leave from Yerevan. The rest was a mystery. Me, my backpack, and 30 days to explore.

A month is way too much for one blog post (especially with the crazy number of photos I take), so I wrote one per country. Here you can go through the journal of my 30 days journey in the stunning Caucasus region:

Caucasus monasteries

As my aim was to visit the monasteries of the Caucasus –and although I got carried away with the mountains and wine– I’ll leave you a photo essay of the ones you cannot miss! I should have included more of the region on the list, but I can assure you that the monasteries were not a mistake. Only seeing some of them was well worth the trip!

Khor Virap monastery, Armenia
Khor Virap monastery, Armenia
Geghard monastery, Armenia
Geghard monastery, Armenia
Sevanavank, Sevan lake monastery, Armenia
Sevan lake monastery, Armenia
Tatev monastery, Armenia
Tatev monastery, Armenia
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta, Georgia
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, Mtskheta, Georgia
Bodbe monastery, Georgia
Bodbe monastery, Georgia
Davit Gareji monastery, Georgia
Davit Gareji monastery, Georgia
Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia
Gergeti Trinity Church, Kazbegi, Georgia
Vardzia, Georgia
Vardzia, Georgia
Church of Saint Elishe, Kis, Azerbaijan
Church of Saint Elishe, Kis, Azerbaijan


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Caucasus monasteries

16 thoughts on “Visit 4th century monasteries in the Caucasus region”

    1. It’s so hard to pinpoint this region in the map. The people there will tell you that they’re Europeans, but there’s so much influence from Asia as well! The important part is that I got you interested 🙂

  1. Such a detailed guide with amazing photographs. I would love to travel to the Caucasus region and explore its monasteries and mountains. Definitely sounds like the visas and border crossings are complicated and confusing so I really appreciate your suggestion for the most logical route to explore the region.

    1. The region is a jigsaw indeed, but it’s easy to navigate if you know about the political situation. I’m happy the post helped you! And that you enjoyed the photos ❤️

    1. I loved Georgia! I could have spent the whole month only there, easily. Hope you and your sister get to go soon! And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions on the region 🙂

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