Prometheus Cave, Martvili Canyon & Kutaisi
During the Tour we will visit Prometheus cave, Martvili canyon, Gelati monastery, Motsameta Monastery and Kutaisi town.
History of the region
Historically Georgia was formed by two relative tribes, Colchis on the West and Diaokhi on the South. Western part of the country is not distinguished by the history only, country is divided geographically as well by the ridge of Likhi. Climate dominant on the western side is subtropical due the Black Sea. Western Georgia nowadays is represented by different regions: Imereti, Samegrelo, Lechkhumi, Svaneti, Racha, Guria and Adjaria.
After Arab invasion 8th-12th century, West Georgia and Kutaisi became cultural and political center of Georgian nation and liberation of all Georgian territories also started from here by the king David. One time Kutaisi was the capital of Kolkhi kingdom and was called Aia. After the liberation of Tbilisi from Arabs in 1122 capital was moved from Kutaisi to Tbilisi, but then again, hard to say how many times was invaded Georgia. After Mongol devastation Country was divided again between West and East and Kutaisi became the capital of Western kingdom.
Not so much survived from Ancient times, except of course monasteries and churches and one of those 3 UNESCO heritage sites of Georgia is situated here, Gelati monastery and Academy built at the time of King David the Builder in 12th century, Motsameta monastery from 10th and Bagrati cathedral from 11th. Unfortunately last one was removed from UNESCO tentative list due to the idiotic “reconstruction” when to the remnants of the cathedral were redesigned with modern elements.
Worth to mention old part of Kutaisi, from 19th centuries as nothing special was left from Communist times here as elsewhere. Center of Kutaisi really nice and authentic, despite the kitch monument in a very center with Argonaut theme, where former dictator tried to bind name of Argonauts with Kutaisi but nobody acknowledged him that nothing to be proud about their Journey as they stole Golden Fleece from us and with the gold, Princes Medea as well followed them, who was creator of the country and murder of her kids. So let’s forget about Argonauts, we can still be proud as by this famous myth word was delivered to the universe about unknown country, It’s like the story about Stalin, who is the symbol of evil but still loved by many Georgians because of his prominence.
Not only Kutaisi, there are many sites within West Georgia worth to see.
Prometheus cave was opened for wide public not long time ago, just in 2011, by the initiative of former president of Georgia. In 1984 new halls where discovered by speleologists, but cave was kept in secret during Soviet times as Soviets wanted to use as a shelter in the case of Nuclear attack. This is the only cave with the monument of of old man at the exit. He was the guard of the cave from 80th and after the collapse of Soviets, during chaotic 90th he was guarding cave without any allowance. What I remember he is the only Georgian who’s statue was made in life, Giorgi Tkabladze definitely deserves respect as if not him cave could be damaged by vandals.
Original name of the Prometheus cave is Kumistavi cave, from which starts Kumistavi river. But new name was given by former president, who was at the same time main architect, designer, linguist, historian and all in one dictator. So like other dictators, it was his priority to name places, design cities, handle fate of the people and so on. It was his strange idea fix, he didn’t know anything about Georgian mythology, nor about Greek but still could know some names from Greek mythology. Thus many places bear names of Greek heroes or monuments and are erected in honor of those heroes. Funny moment, these names always are out of concept and sometimes bear nothing good for the fame of Georgians.
So nothing had to do here Prometheus, who was tied by myths within high Caucasus mountains, nor Medea, Argonauts spent night in the cave, whose names were given to halls of the cave. Despite mess with naming, I’m thankful to the dictator that he opened this cave for wide public. Cave on it’s own is very interesting, it’s much longer than Sataplia cave, which isn’t far away. Length of Prometheus cave 1420m, depth 40m, age 40-70 million years. Cave presented with underground river, small lake, stalagmites and by stalactites.
Cost of the ticket for adults 20GEL, for kids and students 5GEL. closed on Monday.
Another place not to Miss not far from Kutaisi is Martvili Canyon and Martvili monastery from 7th century. Both are within biggest region of Georgia, Samegrelo. Megrels are Georgians as others but speak another language-Megrealian, which with Svani language is part of Kartvelian(Georgian) language group but similarities between these two languages can be traced on linguistic level, Georgian speakers can’t understand Megrelian.
Martvili monastery was built on a place where pagan oak tree was worshiped before. Tree was removed and place was converted to the Christian shrine. It was actually common practice like in Mtskheta Svetitskhoveli cathedral and Jvari monastery where build on a place of pagan tree. Nowadays church is silent, nice place to visit and views above the Kolkheti lowland are amazing as well.
Not far from Martvili monastery main attraction is Martvili Canyon which is located at the place what Megrelians call Gochkadili. Gochkadili’s equivalent in Georgian is “Gachedili” and can be translated as blocked or clogged. Funny name, but it was named in 17th century by dukes of Samegrelo as they built bridge between two sides of the canyon. It was beloved place of Dadiani dukes. Few years ago here was free entrance, but because of high flow of visitors, territory was heavily littered. Now it’s part of APA and is protected by the state. Length of Canyon is approximately 1km and it’s not deep, but very narrow, several waterfalls and blue crystal clear water is the real beauty of the nature.
Entrance on a territory of the canyon 15GEL, boat ticket 13GEL.
For the real nature lover my advise is to go further Via Balda village there is interesting trail which goes up to the head of the river Abasha, where river flows from long cave where inside the cave it forms 30m high waterfall, then flows out and creates 67m high Oniore waterfall. On the way to Onore approx. 7km trail goes via another two Toba waterfalls. Another interesting place to see and possible overnight stay in tents is boxwood forest. So this track will be really good challenge for real nature lovers.
Early morning Drive to Kutaisi, Road approx 5 hours with the lunch stop on the way. Upon arrival we can gave a little rest in lovely guesthouse or hotel depending on request. Then we will have enough time to visit nearby located Motsameta and Gelati monasteries. Relaxing evening in Kutaisi. Center of Kutaisi, some nice places to taste Imeretian Cuisine, wines. And enjoy fascinating Architecture of the city.
Next day Via Tskaltubo town we will drive to Prometheus cave, after visit lunch and drive to Martvili Canyon. We will enjoy some time at the canyon, then drive up to hill where Martvili monastery is located, after all we will have dinner in local restaurant and drive back to Kutaisi.
On a day 3 we can drive back to Tbilisi. Tour can be extended with the wild trail to waterfalls Toba and Oniore. In this case it will become 4 day tour.