Dmanisi is a town in Kvemo (lower) Kartli in eastern Georgia that has become famous for the ancient human skull fragments that have been found nearby.
The wider region is well known for its tradition of handcrafts, especially metalwork.
Lower Kartli was settled by eastern Georgian tribes during the pre-Hellenic time. Significant archeological excavations have taken place in the region, especially in Dmanisi. Specialists believe that the skulls found in Dmanisi belonged to a people which lived here approximately 1.8 million years ago. The discoveries have forced scientists to reconsider some existing theories about the movements of prehistoric peoples and it is now thought that the human remains discovered in Dmanisi may be from the oldest known human being in Europe and Asia. The skulls are currently kept in the Simon Janashia Museum in Tbilisi.
This region was also one of the first parts of Georgia to convert to Christianity which explains the large number of churches and monastery complexes throughout its territory.
Geography and climate
Dmanisi is located about 85 km south-west of Tbilisi in the Mashavera River Valley. The river disgorges the Javakheti volcanic chain to the west. The region of Kvemo Kartli is surrounded by the triangle of Trialeti, Javakheti, and Bambak-Erevani Mountain ranges.
The warmest month of the year in Dmanisi is July, with an average temperature of 18°C. In January, the average temperature drops to around -4 °C.
What to see and do
Dmanisi and lower Kartli are ideal destinations for those interested in everything from bird watching to archeological, architectural and botanical tours.
Dmanisi was once the largest fortified fortress-town of Lower Kartli and referred to as the ‘town of kings’. A medieval tower and citadel, a tunnel, cellars, baths, halls, jails, and ruins of households and other buildings still exist.
Birtvisi Fortress is located in the Algeti gorge of Tetritskaro district, incredibly located between inaccessible cliffs, surrounded by walls covering a total area of 1 km2.
The Khuluti Fortress is an excellent example of Georgian architecture, its five towers strategically located in a narrow river gorge.
The Bolnisi Sioni church is the only remaining three aisled basilica in Georgia. It was constructed using carved stones, with its primary layer being different from the layer of bricks and river stones. The temple is decorated with unusual green-turquoise hued stones.
The Church of the Mother of God, located within the Monastery of Pitareti is one of the most significant examples of Georgian architecture. It contains diverse pieces of high quality art work including intricate engravings and decorative depictions of humans and animals.
For travellers seeking an outdoors experience, Algeti National Park in the Trialeti region is especially interesting. Mountainous with a great number of small rivers and ravines it is often referred to as Floral Junction, since it supports an incredible array of 1664 species of plants. The park is rich in fauna as well, from bears and wolves to more than 80 species of birds including the Imperial Eagle.