Borjomi

Nestled among plunging cliffs and lush green forests, Borjomi is a spa-town famous for its mineral water springs. A true Georgian gem, the tranquil resort offers health-giving waters and a fine mountain atmosphere, attracting travelers in search of a relaxing and curative holiday.

THE HISTORY OF BORJOMI

Borjomi is a balneological and climatic resort town in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of south-central Georgia country. It is located in the picturesque Borjomi Gorge, on the edge of the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park.

During the Middle Ages, the territory of Borjomi was part of the historic province of Tori. Over the course of its history, Tori was devastated twice: first by the Arabs and then by the Mongols.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the area was ruled by the noble Avalishvili family. However, it was almost deserted after the Ottomans resettled the entire population in the eastern Georgian region of Kartli.

After Imperial Russia annexed Georgia, Borjomi started to revive. The town is first mention during the 1810s when it was placed under the control of the Russian military. Soldiers started to arrive in Borjomi in the 1820s and by the 1830s, bathhouses and buildings were being built.

In the early 1840s, Ekaterina, daughter of Russian Viceroy Yevgeny Golovin, was cured by Borjomi’s mineral waters. This prompted her father to transfer control of the waters from the military to civil authorities. Thereafter, Borjomi’s mineral springs, warm climate and forested landscapes made it a popular summer retreat for the Russian aristocracy, earning it the nickname “Pearl of the Caucasus.”

During the 1860s, new hotels were constructed in Borjomi. In 1871, the town was gifted to the royal Viceroy of the Caucasus – Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolayvich. In the 1890s, his son Nikolay constructed a chateau and a park at the western end of Borjomi in Likani. Extensive exporting of bottled mineral water started, and the town grew significantly due to the influx of Russian immigrants.

In 1921, following the invasion of Georgia by the Red Army, Soviet authorities confiscated all aristocratic mansions, converting them into sanatoria patronized by the Communist Party elite. In 1968, Borjomi suffered significant damage due to a flood, but continued to thrive throughout the Soviet period.

Although the years of post-Soviet economic and political crisis hindered its development, Borjomi remained a popular destination for domestic tourists. In the 21st century, the Georgian government and private sector invested into Borjomi’s municipal and tourism infrastructure, helping it to recover from years of decay.

Today, Borjomi is one of Georgia’s top resorts for healthy retreats. The town is also renowned for its mineral water industry, with the “Borjomi” brand of naturally-carbonated mineral water being Georgia’s leading export.

PLACES TO VISIT IN BORJOMI

Borjomi is known for its world-famous mineral water, numerous thermal springs and sanatoriums, and its setting within the pristine Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. But beyond its health recreation opportunities, Borjomi offers an array of places to go in Georgia.

Firuza

Also known as the Blue Palace, Firuza is one of Borjomi’s most important historical buildings. Located at the entrance of Borjomi Central Park, Firuza was constructed in 1892 by Mirza Riza Khan, the consul of Iran. A unique cultural Georgian monument, the building combines elements of Persian, Georgian and European architectural styles.

Borjomi Central Park

Borjomi’s most remarkable treasures are its stunning Georgian nature and unique mineral springs – and the Borjomi Central Park is one of the best places to experience this. Dating from the 1850s, the park is a fantastic year-round destination where you can taste Borjomi’s natural mineral water and relax in a beautiful setting.

Ecologically-themed, the park has amusement rides for children and a Georgian cinema. Visitors can ride the cable car up to the Ferris wheel at the top of the park. The view over Borjomi from here is fantastic.

The park’s main attraction is the glass building in which visitors can drink spring water that comes directly from the ground. Another highlight is the statue of Amirani (Georgia’s Prometheus) which stands at the foot of a waterfall.

At the end of the park is an open-air bathhouse where you can take a dip in hot sulfur springs. Within the park’s vicinity are many mineral spring health spas, recreation complexes and rest houses.

Borjomi Museum of Local Lore

One of Georgia’s oldest museums, the Borjomi Museum of Local Lore was established in 1926. The museum is located within a building constructed in 1890, which is unique both for its architecture and building materials used. The museum displays more than 36,000 items, including 4 permanent exhibitions.

Visitors can learn about the history of the town, its flora and fauna, as well as documents certifying the medicinal properties of its mineral waters. It also holds many 18th to 19th century wood, glass, bronze and porcelain artifacts that belonged to the Russian royal family.

Gogia’s Castle

Built in the 14th century, Gogia’s Castle is nestled on a hill overlooking the town. The castle belonged to the Avalishvili feudal lords, rulers of Borjomi. A trail leads to Gogia’s Castle on a steep uphill hike. Once you reach the fortress, you can enjoy beautiful views of the town.

Peter’s Castle

Peter’s Castle is a medieval Georgia castle nestled high on a rocky mountain in Likani Village. In the 16th century, following the conquest of Tori by the Ottomans, Peter’s Castle served as the latter’s administrative center. Today, the remains of various buildings lie within the fortress walls, including the ruins of a residential hall and wine cellar.

Sali Castle

Sali Castle is one in a series of fortresses built in Borjomi to guard the crossroads leading to the southern, eastern and western provinces of Georgia. The fort was of strategic military importance and excavations have unearthed medieval Georgian artifacts.

Romanov’s Palace

Situated in Likani Village, Romanov’s Palace was built in 1892-95 under the order of Tsar Nikolas II. The palace contains unique displays, including a table given to the Romanovs by Napoleon, armchairs gifted by the Shah of Iran, and a handmade table carved by Russian Emperor Peter I. Other highlights include a Romanov era billiard table located in the billiards room, and a beautiful garden.

Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

One of Europe’s largest national parks, the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park covers 85,083 ha of native forest and sub-alpine and alpine meadows, which are home to rare species of flora and fauna.

A network of trails invites you to experience the amazing diversity of blossoming plants, stunning vistas and magical atmosphere of the park. Visitors can enjoy bird-watching, hiking, horse-riding, biking, snow shoes, cultural and educational tours. Routes are equipped with tourist shelters, picnic spots and camp sites.

Timotesubani Monastery

Situated in Timotesubani Village, the Timotesubani Monastery – Cathedral of the Holy Virgin was built in the 12th to 13th centuries. Its interiors are decorated with some of the finest examples of 13th century Georgian mural painting.

Chitakhevi Monastery

Constructed in the 9th – 10th centuries, the Chitakhevi Monastery of St. George (also the Green Monastery) is nestled in the beautiful Borjomi valley. The church is built using unique stones in different shades of green.

Kvabiskhevi Church of the Assumption

Built in the 8th – 9th centuries, the Kvabiskhevi Church of the Assumption is one of the most historic buildings within the Borjomi valley. Located in Kvabiskhevi Village, the basilica’s interiors contain frescoes dating from the 12th to 13th centuries.

Kukushka Train

A popular activity in Borjomi is going on a scenic ride on the Kukushka train. Built in 1902, the Kukushka is a 37km long narrow-gauge railway line that links Borjomi with the ski resort of Bakuriani. A must for lovers of stunning scenery, the famous train meanders through gorgeous forest before ascending the majestic Caucasus Mountains.

Bakuriani Ski Resort is one of Georgia’s most popular ski resorts, which offers amazing skiing and snowboarding. A favorite among nature and sports enthusiasts, the internationally-acclaimed winter sports hub is perfect for enjoying the Georgian winter, as well as summer outdoors activities. Close by is Mitarbi Ski Resort, another beautiful mountain resort in Georgia.

Mtkvari River

Stretching 1,515km, the Mtkvari River originates in Turkey (where it is known as “Kura”) and flows through the broad valley between the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains, before draining into the Caspian Sea.

One of the best white-water rafting destinations in Georgia, the Mtkvari River attracts adventure travelers who come to enjoy rafting in Borjomi. Besides the adrenaline rush, the Borjomi rafting route delivers panoramic views by taking rafters through a beautiful valley with amazing landscapes.

There are 2 options for the starting point: Kvabiskhevi Village (12km) in April-May, and Chitakhevi Dam (8km) from June when water levels start to drop. For both routes, the tour ends in Borjomi and has a difficulty rating of Class II–IV (Moderately Difficult).

WELLNESS IN BORJOMI

Borjomi’s healing waters are sourced from volcanic springs in Borjomi Gorge that are fed by water filtered from glaciers covering the peaks of the Bakuriani Mountains. The natural pressure of carbon dioxide pushes the water up to the surface from depths of 10km underground.

Unlike other sodium bicarbonate waters, Borjomi waters don’t have time to cool before reaching the surface, arriving at a temperature of 38-41 degrees Celsius. On its way up, the surrounding mountain rock formations enrich the water with over 60 mineral compounds.

Archaeological excavations in Borjomi have uncovered ancient Georgian stone baths and clay pipes leading to the springs. This is evidence that Borjomi’s mineral waters have been used in therapeutic baths for thousands of years.

The rich mineral composition of Borjomi’s thermal springs is believed to provide medicinal benefits. As such, Borjomi attracts many visitors who seek to improve their health through balneotherapy – a method of curing diseases by bathing in mineral waters. Others come to drink the health-giving waters right from their source.

Another wellness aspect of Borjomi is its ecotherapy benefits. Borjomi is surrounded on all sides by mountains covered with mixed forests of broadleaf and coniferous trees. The dense forest cover cleans the air, making it fresh and filling it with oxygen, which is ideal for treating respiratory diseases. In fact, unaccustomed visitors are known to get dizzy in Borjomi from “oxygen euphoria”!

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT BORJOMI

Borjomi weather is characterized by a mild climate both in winter and summer. Thanks to the pleasant year-round temperatures, Borjomi is a nice place to visit regardless of the season. The best time to visit Borjomi for health recreation is in May-June.

WHERE TO EAT IN BORJOMI

In Borjomi, you can eat perfectly well at most guesthouses and on the resort side of town. Regional variations of popular Georgian food dishes are found in many Borjomi restaurants. Be sure to try the tolma (stuffed cabbage), shashlik & kebab, string cheese and lavash bread.

WHERE TO STAY IN BORJOMI

Borjomi has dozens of hotels, guesthouses and homestays, so you won’t have any problem finding a place to spend the night. Many Borjomi hotels also offer full spa services and treatment with sulfur and mineral baths.

HOW TO GET TO BORJOMI

For Georgia flights landing in Tbilisi airport, you can rent a car and drive 2.5 hours to Borjomi (160km). But driving in the country of Georgia can be daunting if you don’t understand the Georgian alphabet or speak the Georgian language. Your best bet is to travel to Borjomi via private transfer.

FINAL WORDS AND TRAVEL SUGGESTIONS

A tranquil resort town rich in pristine nature, historical monuments and legendary Georgian hospitality, Borjomi is a place of beauty and health recreation. Its healing mineral waters, fresh mountain air and stunning setting among densely forested hills combine to deliver one of Georgia’s best nature retreats.

Borjomi hotels and vacation rentals fill up fast during the resort season so be sure to book ahead with our travel planner. If you would rather drive, we have a modern fleet of Borjomi rental cars available for hire. We also arrange Georgia vacations with private transfers to and from Tbilisi airport.

You can also create your very own custom vacation package that includes the places you want to see and things you want to do in Borjomi. Need some respite from the city’s summer heat? Order your custom tour to Borjomi today and enjoy the most amazing health retreat of your life!

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