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28 July 2011 / leggypeggy

A short walk in the Georgian Caucasus

A view of the church and Mt. Kazbek.

We’re in Kazbegi now—at the end of the Georgian Military Highway and just a few kilometres south of the border with Russia. The highway and the village, Kazbegi but now known as Stepantsminda, are part of the ancient passage from Tbilisi over the Caucasus Mountains to Vladikavkaz in Russia.

All 24 of us are enjoying a homestay at the Nazi (pronounced Nazee) Homestay which is overlooked by the Tsminda Sameba Church and snow-peaked Mt Kazbek (which straddles the Georgian–Russian border). I’m sitting on the verandah now—enjoying the view, except that Mt Kazbek is shrouded in fog today. Glad I took a picture of it yesterday.

This morning we trooped up to the church. It’s a near vertical climb in some places and it took just over 90 minutes to reach the top. It’s also possible to go by jeep taxi.

The Tsminda Sameba Church in Kazbegi.

The weathered church and nearby belltower are decorated with some lovely carvings, including one that looks Celtic and one that looks remarkably like two dinosaurs butting heads. John went in to the church but I didn’t because I’m tired of paying to don a skirt. I bet the good Lord doesn’t care if I’m wearing hiking pants.

But there’s life beyond the church. Will, John (not Poor John), Keiran and Glen are the energetic ones. As I type, they are heading up to the church and then taking another long walk on to the Gergeti Glacier. They plan to camp overnight at an altitude of 2960 metres. The fact that the guidebooks describe the stretch from the church to the glacier as a 900-metre ascent and ‘a strenuous walk’ was enough to discourage me.

Carvings on the Tsminda Sameba Church.

The walk down wasn’t as hair-raising as I expected. Once we got to the top, we saw the path we should have used to come up. It was steep, but not as bad as the way we had clambered up. Much of that one was strewn with pine needles, which made the going slippery as well as steep. But descending, we used a mix of the road and less steep paths, so I arrived at the bottom without falling or rolling. At two crucial points, nice young Georgian men gave me a helping hand.

See also the Wildflowers of Georgia, No place like a homestay and Georgian Military Highway.

Some people coming up the way we walked down.


Leave a Comment
  1. jeanleesworld / Jun 25 2016 9:47 pm

    Simply amazing. I see that church on the mount, and I thought of two things: Umberto Eco’s THE NAME OF THE ROSE (I just *had* to bring that up) and Wisconsin’s own Holy Hill. It’s a strange mix, the pride, humility, strength, and faith it would take to build a church on a hilltop or mountaintop. It makes me think of my children who grab stools and stand on them next to me just to prove that they *can* be taller.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 25 2016 10:29 pm

      Knowing your blog, I can see how Umberto Eco came into the conversation. 🙂

      I hope to see Wisconsin’s Holy Hill someday and have a cuppa with you. Would love to see all your children perched on stools. One day they will really be taller than you—unless you are a giant. 🙂


      • jeanleesworld / Jun 26 2016 6:45 am

        I’m 6’1″. My kid brother was *so* keen to pass me up, but I am just a smidgen taller than he. Kinda hoping the same happens with my kids, mwa ha ha!

        That said, yes! Holy Hill is beautiful, but in autumn the colors are heavenly. I don’t throw that term lightly out, either. When the church’s tower is open, one can climb another number of stories above the hilltop and see dozens and dozens of miles all around. You ever come round, I’ll be happy to show you…so long as I can get a babysitter. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 26 2016 7:04 am

        Oh to be taller than my 5’4″. And if I get to your neck of the woods, I’ll pay for the babysitter! 🙂



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