Kazbegi a village in the north of Georgia, popular for the trekking opportunities in the visually spectacular surrounding mountains, its views of the mighty Mount Kazbeg, and for the beautiful view from the town of the Holy Trinity Church outlined against Mount Kazbeg itself. The town of Kazbegi—officialy named Stepantsminda. On the western side of the river, the town is known as Gergeti, but for all intents and purposes of a visitor, it is essentially one town. The town is located along the banks of the Thergi River at an elevation of 1,740 meters (5,710 feet) above sea level. Stepantsminda’s climate is moderately humid with relatively dry, cold winters and long and cool summers. Stepantsiminda is known for its scenic location in the Greater Caucasus mountains, and is a center for trekkers and mountain climbing. Local attractions include the Kazbegi Museum and Ethnographic Museum in town, and the Gergeti Trinity Church outside of town, as well as Mount Kazbegi itself and the alpine meadows and forests of the surrounding Kazbegi Nature Reserve.
The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenellated curtain wall. Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The older Church of the Virgin. It dates from the first half of the 17th century. The larger Church of the Assumption, built in 1689. It is a central dome style structure with richly decorated facades, including a carved north entrance and a carved grapevine cross on the south facade. It also contains the remains of a number of frescoes, most of which were destroyed by the fire in the 18th century. The fortress remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007, the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Site program.
The church is situated at an elevation of 2170 meters, under Mount Kazbegi. The Gergeti Trinity Church was built in the 14th century, and is the only cross-cupola church in Khevi province. The separate belltower dates from the same period as the church itself. Its isolated location on top of a steep mountain surrounded by the vastness of nature has made it a symbol for Georgia. The church is now an active establishment of the Georgian Orthodox and Apostolic Church. The place is a popular way point for trekkers in the area, and can be reached by a steep 3 hour climb up the mountain, or around 30 minutes by jeep up a rough mountain trail.
The Dariali Gorge is the gorge on the border between Russia and Georgia. It is at the east base of Mount Kazbek, pierced by the river Terek for a distance of 8 miles between vertical walls of rock (1800 m/5900 ft) and is located south of present-day Vladikavkaz. The Darial Pass was historically important as one of only two crossing of the Caucasus mountain range, the other being the Derbent Pass, and has been long fortified — at least since 150 BC. Ruins of an ancient fortress are still visible. The pass served as a hub point for many roads connecting North and South Caucasus. and remained open for traffic for most of its existence.
The Georgian Military Road runs between Tbilisi and Vladikavkaz (Russia) and follows the traditional route used by invaders and traders throughout the ages. The road stretches some 208 kilometers through the Terek valley, crosses the Rocky Ridge in the Darial Gorge, past Mount Kazbek, and Gergeti Trinity Church, then leads through the canyon of the Baidarka River to the Jvari Pass, where it reaches an altitude of 2379 meters (7815 feet). It continues along the Tetri Aragvi River past the medieval fortress of Ananuri and Zemo Avchala, a hydroelectric dam and follows the right bank of the Kura (Mtkvari) River past the ancient town of Mtskheta to Tbilisi.