Back to the Clouds
After leaving Tsinandali, we drove for around an hour through urban centers and sleepy villages in the lowlands of Kakheti then gradually went uphill, seemingly towards the clouds once again, until the winding road brought us to an opening through a high ancient wall. Upon entering the gate, voila, before us was the colorful town of Sighnaghi.
It was a Sunday morning, a thick fog was covering Sighnaghi, its inhabitants seemed to be still in bed as very few people were on the streets. We parked our car near the police station at the town center and decided to explore the place on foot — a decision that was in my favor as it was difficult enough to take photos in the fog and riding a car around town would make my chance of taking good photos slimmer.
City of Love
According to my Georgian companions, Natia and Amiko; Sighnaghi is also known as Georgia’s “Love City” as many couples want to have their weddings and anniversaries celebrated here. There are two Georgian Orthodox churches in town, one of which is dedicated to St. George and the other to St. Stephen. At less than 3 square kilometers, the land area of the town is quite small with an equally small population of just a little more than 2,000 in 2002. It is just more than 100 kilometers from Tbilisi and also situated at the eastern foothills of the Gombori Range and has an elevation of around 800 meters above sea level, thus the fog. The town supposedly overlooks the Alazani Valley and faces the Greater Caucasus mountains but, just like in Telavi, visibility was so poor that it was difficult just to figure out the 18th-century fortification that surrounds the town and crawled up and down the surrounding hills.
What struck me most while walking around Sighnaghi was the abundance of beautiful balconies. I always lagged behind my companions as I marveled at the beauty of these balconies and tried to capture them with my camera. Compared to Old Tbilisi; Sighnaghi, having gone through a recent refurbishment, has more modern and colorful balconies.
In my balcony series, I described the feeling under these balconies as like being at the set of Shakespeare’s ‘Balcony Scene’ and seeing Juliet courting Romeo in one of the lovely balconies. I included a few of the photos from the Balcony Series in this post to complete the picture of Sighnaghi.
Lunch and Leave
After a few hours of sightseeing, picture-taking, and photographing the place; we had lunch at a hillside restaurant whose scenic view of the valley below was still obscured by heavy fog. I made my first attempt in this restaurant to try the khinkali but in vain as the place only served international food.
Having had a gracious meal with an assortment of dishes, we started our descent towards Tbilisi and encountered a small bonus. Before we were able to get out of town we encountered a huge herd of cows occupying the road to the exasperation of the motorists. Amused, I snapped a few photos as we waited for the road to get cleared and then proceeded with our journey back to Tbilisi.
Have a nice weekend everyone!
- Road to Kakheti 1: Above the Clouds at Gombori (travellingartist.wordpress.com)
- Road to Kakheti 2: Under the Clouds at Shuamta (travellingartist.wordpress.com)
- The Cellars of Tsinandali (travellingartist.wordpress.com)
- Caucasian Woods (travellingartist.wordpress.com)
- The Balcony by Charles Baudelaire