A beautiful and rugged mountain range running east to west, from the Caspian to the Black Sea and the boundary of Europe and Asia, the Caucasus Mountains have been a formidable barrier throughout history.
A narrow crossing about 100 km north of Tbilisi as the crow flies lies a passageway through these mountains, a journey leaving behind Georgia, and ultimately Europe, and welcoming the vast steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan. In the midst of the Caucasus Mountains, a tiny hamlet of a thousand people called Stepantsminda welcomes travelers from near and far. Overshadowing this town to the west is the mighty Mount Kazbeg, a dormant volcano that lies 16,558 ft. high in the Caucasus Mountain range, right on the border of Georgia and Russia. It is the second highest volcano in the Caucasus, after Mount Elbrus, the highest in all of Europe.
For hundreds of years, pilgrims and visitors have made a steep trek from town to high above on a ridge in the midst of meadows to visit an ancient church. Built in the 14th century, the Gergeti Trinity church towers above the town of Stepantsminda thousands of feet below while being silhouetted by the mighty Caucasus Mountains. Due to its remote location, this church housed and protected precious relics from the Cathedral of the Living Pillar during dangerous times. A visit to this church today will leave you breathless in more ways than one – the glacial-carved peak can be seen to the west, the tiny town can be spotted below and the narrow pass through these mountains extends to the north, bringing enchantment what may lay ahead.
THE SILK ROAD JOURNAL
How We Got Here
Kazbegi, and the nearby town of Stepantsminda, lies on the border of Russia. A 4 hour minivan ride from Tbilisi brings you to these majestic mountains.
Nearly everywhere brings an incredible vantage point, which is surely the highlight whether looking east over the ancient church or west to Mount Kazbeg
Upon arriving, we simply walked straight up the mountain for several hundred feet of elevation gain until we came upon a huge expanse of rolling meadows with a straight view to Mount Kazbeg. I still vividly remember that simple moment.