Telavi is the main city and administrative center of Georgia’s eastern province of Kakheti. Its population consists of some 19,629 inhabitants (as of the year 2014). The city is located on the foothills of the Tsiv-Gombori Range at 500–800 m (1,600–2,600 ft) above sea level.
Telavi and its surroundings are rich in historical, architectural and natural monuments. The most important heritage monuments preserved within the city limits include:
Dzveli Galavani (“Old Walls”) – fortress of the first Kakhetian kings (9th–10th centuries)
Church of the St. Mary (16th century)
Church of the Holy Trinity (6th century)
Fortress Batonis Tsikhe (“Fortress of Master”) built in the 17th century; one of the only well-preserved medieval royal palaces in Georgia
Korchibashishvilebis Tsikhe – castle of the local noblemen named Korchibashishvilis (16th–18th century)
Vakhvakhishvilebis Tsikhe – castle of the local noblemen named Vakhvakhishvilis (18th century)
Telavi is the only city in Georgia where four different fortification monuments from different historical periods remain relatively intact. Due to this reason, architects, scholars and art historians consider Telavi as the most “medieval” city in the country. Another curious sight in Telavi is a 900-year-old plane tree which is 40 m (130 ft) high and 11 m (36 ft) around the trunk. Other notable landmarks around Telavi include the Alaverdi Cathedral (11th century), the second highest cathedral in Georgia after the newly built Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral; the Ikalto Academy (8th-12th centuries–), where the famous Georgian writer Shota Rustaveli studied; the Church of St. George (dedicated to the patron saint of Georgia, where it is said that there are 365 churches named St. George); ruins of the city and castle of Gremi (the former capital of Kakheti during the 15th–17th centuries); Shuamta, a complex made up of three churches of different periods — 6th, 7th and 8th centuries — in a highland forest; Akhali Shuamta (“New Shuamta” in English), the monastery close to Dzveli Shuamta (“Old Shuamta” in English), built in the 16th century; the stunning Tsinandali Gardens (the residential Palace of Noblemen Chavchavadzes family); and many others.