Why we Travel – Little Treasures from the Past (Georgia)


Georgia is gold when you love sightseeing! And we have a surprise, some of the ancient tombstones in Georgia are truly stunning…

UNESCO World Heritage sites, the inviting old capital of Tblisi rich in old architecture and modern murals, possibilities for urban explorations, and churches and monasteries that abound throughout the country.

We love the wilds, the remote corners, the unpaved meandering roads. And yes, we also love sightseeing. Every once in a while these two meet, presenting a little gift from the road less traveled, a surprise that makes our day.

It can be a landscape, an unexpected wild camp, a historic place… And Georgia gave us tombstones… Coen and I take an interest in cemeteries. Headstones, graves, plastic flowers, the picknick tables on site, all are part of a story that reflects a culture. We just love them.

Read More: Meet King David the Builder – Didgori Battle Monument (Georgia)

Dashbashi Canyon, Georgia (©Coen Wubbels)
St. George Church, Dashbashi Canyon, with a horse as grave marker.
GPS Waypoint: 41.590711, 44.128995

A Tombstone in a Wall?

To be honest, when passing the first cemeteries in Georgia we weren’t immediately excited to turn off the engine and start exploring, as we do so often, particularly in Central Asia. It was a stroke of luck that my eye fell on an image on Google of an ornamented tombstone that had been cemented in the wall of a tiny church, which was enough reason to check it out.

The word tombstone is a mixture of the word ‘tomb’, from the Greek word ‘tymbos’ translating as ‘burial mound’, and ‘stone’, from the Greek word ‘stia’ meaning ‘pebble’. The use of the word tombstone was first used in English around 1560, when it was used to describe the lid of a stone coffin. Its meaning as a grave marker is from 1711. ~William Kent

The church was on top of a hill at the end of a village with narrow, meandering roads. Parking wasn’t evident, but we found a spot and walked uphill. The church was closed, and apart from that intriguing tombstone in the wall not the most interesting we had ever seen.

Read More: Street Art in Tbilisi (Georgia)

Searching for Tombstones in Georgia

The country was sharing one of its beautiful days with us, the sun under the blue sky was warm and inviting to stay outside. Strolling across the hill, my eyes fell on another ornamented tombstone. And another. And another. I grew excited and not knowing where Coen was, I called him on my phone to make sure he would not return to the Land Cruiser but see this too.

Soon we were both busy checking out all these fabulous sculptures of men and women dressed in traditional garb, some tombstones giving hints of their jobs – an image of a lamb, of tools, of a pitcher (I assume pouring wine), etc.

Read More: Urban Exploration in Georgia – Abandoned Sanatoria in Tskaltubo

Check out this book: 24 Off-road Routes in Georgia

Explore Georgia (©Oun Travela)

As we were traversing Georgia’s ‘Lake District’ and crossed the Javakheti Plateau (I wrote about it here), we found a few more of such ornamented tombstones next to other churches. On our return to Georgia, I’m sure we’ll search for, and hopefully find, more of them.

I know nothing about these tombstones – how old they are, if they are related to a certain culture, region, time period. If you have info, please share with me in the comment section below. Have you found beautiful tombstones in Georgia worth a visit, I’d love to hear about that too!


Read More: Overland Camping in Georgia

Sword, tombstone Georgia (©Coen Wubbels)
Manglisi, Holy Dormition Cathedral
GPS Waypoint: 41.698578, 44.356758

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