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The Georgian Military Highway

The Georgian Military Highway is an extremely spectacular road which forms the main artery connecting Georgia to Russia. It runs north from Tbilisi, through the Greater Caucasus Mountains, 207km to Vladikavkaz.

Georgian Military Highway Copyright Robin Whiting

The road winds its way up through steep wooded valleys and ravines, beyond the tree line and over the 2,370m high Jvari (Cross) Pass and down again. As well as passing through spectacular scenery, the route is considered a cultural treasure trove of Georgia. The name originates from its military associations during the 19th century. Today, as you approach the border with North Ossetia-Alania (Russian Federation), a considerable number of goods vehicles may be seen queuing for miles to cross. However, this route has served as an important trade link between Asia and Europe since early times - there is a references to the route by Greek geographer, philosopher, and historian Strabo (64/63 BC – c. AD 24). The route was important militarily and economically to the Georgians in the 12th century, during the height of their power. The route continued to play an important role in the region with completion in 1817 of a road by the Russians.

Georgian Military Highway Copyright Robin Whiting

As well as being a functional trade route, the area along The Georgian Military Highway attracts tourists and people for a number of reasons including skiing, climbing, walking, nature, history, ethnography and pilgrimage. The area has influenced many writers and artists including Pushkin, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky. The region boasts a large array of churches, monasteries and fortresses.

The photos below were taken in the middle of Summer and although The Georgian Military Highway is a major artery, in some places where the road was being reconstructed, there were stretches of bumpy un-surfaced road to negotiate. It is not possible to imagine the route in winter, although an idea may be gleaned from the number of snow tunnels bypassed along the way and ice visible year-round. Near the summit of the Jvari Pass is a modern concrete structure with curved walls. Inside the walls people sell goods and gifts to passersby, whilst balconies protrude from the perimeter wall, offering spectacular views of the surrounding Greater Caucasus Mountains. Of the many sites along the Georgian Military Highway to see, two of them are the Ananuri Castle Complex and Gergeti Trinity Church which are also featured on this website Here and Here respectively.

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