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November 29, 2002
|Georgians tell us to visit Vardzia, a cave monastery complex, because every country is proud of their cave monasteries. In freezing weather, wheezing like geezers from colds, we rode a taxi into the barren mountains. In gorges along the way we passed a few dramatic castles, perched like parakeets atop rock outcroppings along a river that led thru rocky passes.|
Castles (Khertvisi pictured) guard the route from Alkhaltsikhe to Vardzia.
Vardzia, a cave city of hundreds of rooms and seven churches, all built into the cliffside. Monks live here without the benefit of satellite TV or plumbing yet this young monk is still chic.
Our cousin Tamar named after a Georgian queen? Queen Tamar ruled Georgia in the 12th century, her armies won major victories against Muslim forces and her country prospered. A contemporary wrote of her reign, "The peasants were like nobles, the nobles like princes, and the princes like kings." She's remembered as one of Georgia's greatest monarchs.