Sighnaghi: Capital of Love
Sighnaghi, known in Georgia and beyond its borders as city of love is a wonderful touristic destination. This small cosy city lies on 113 km east to Tbilisi. During recent years Sighnaghi was fundamentally reconstructed and has become an important center of Georgia’s tourist industry. This small city is famous for the production of Georgian wine and traditional carpets. What can be more attractive for a visitor? Gorgeous Georgian food, wine and carpets to make it warmer, huh…?
Photo by Marco Fieber
If you are coming here from Tbilisi, there are minibuses (marshrutkas) that run daily every odd hour from 7 am – 5 pm, the last one leaving at 6 pm (with a same schedule returning), from Samgori station. It will take you 1.5 hours and will cost 6 Georgian lari (EUR2.50).
The town is really very small, it has approximately 2000 residents and you can easily find out whatever you need just by asking (Russian or English) as locals are used to tourists. We have a list of advises what to do and see while you are on your day trip here. Firstly, do not expect wild night life here, as this is the place to drink local wine and enjoy delicious food in one of the many restaurants and walk and walk and enjoy everything you can see around.
The city is surrounded by a 5 kilometer long fence, which for centuries has served to protect Sighnaghi inhabitants from external enemies. This is one of the most impressing things to see here. It is Sighnaghi town wall, which is one of the biggest in Georgia, its area occupies 40 hectares. The town wall has 23 towers and 6 gates, the total length is 4.5 km. A small section of the wall has been restored for curios people like us. You can enter this part through the tower at the gate on the road to Sakobo/Tsnori where there is also a restaurant. This “tourist track” as the signs call it, will spit you out on the same road, above where you entered.
You can have a wonderful panoramic view of surrounding areas of the city, if you go to St.Stephen church in Sighnaghi fortress. For this you should take the road to the left of Hotel Sighnaghi at the highest square. The church is up the road on the right. Visitors are welcome to go to the church tower where you will have the chance of having amazing photos. And please remember, there is no price for admission to the church or the tower! Sometimes local people try tricking tourists here so remember our advises for that case!
Another must-see here is of course Pirosmani’s museum which is next to the square at the summit of Sighnaghi. It is open for guests from 11.30-18.30. The ground floor holds an impressive exhibit of archaeological artefacts, the second floor has the exhibitions of original paintings by the famous Georgian folk artist Nikolos Pirosmani. Well, here there is an official entrance fee – 3 laris (EUR1.20) or if you are a lucky student you can pay 1 lari (EUR0.40) only.
These were tips for spiritual satisfaction and for stomach festive you can choose one of the restaurants that are most famous here: Host of Sighnaghi (this is the first restaurant you see entering the city coming from Tbilisi); Nikala; Qedeli Café and if you have come here for trying Mexican dishes, you still can try Pancho Villa restaurant. Do you still have the question in your mind why is Sighnaghi known as a “Love City” after watching all these magic photos? Then, you will get different answers while you ask drivers, local people and you can even have your own answer for this after having experienced the magic atmosphere while walking through roads all covered by cobblestone. The fact that newly married couples are coming here from Tbilisi only for having a photo shoot supports the title, still doesn’t provide clear explanation, as anything connected with love, right? So, you might be the one with the best answer. Don’t forget to share it with us!
Photo by Ilona Margalitadze
Although for Sighnaghi one day of sightseeing is enough, this is probably the best base for exploring the region on daily trips. You can follow the road from Sighnaghi to Telavi via Gurjaani visiting wineries on the way or escape for a day to Kvareli lake resort. All those destinations will be visited and then explored for you in our further updates.