The Georgian town of Sighnaghi is located in the eastern region of Kakheti and is known as the “City of Love”. Sighnaghi is also one of Georgia’s many stops along the ancient Silk Road.
Sighnaghi is just over an hour’s drive from Tbilisi which makes it an easy get away from the rigors of the city. It is a favorite destination for daily excursions.
The town sits atop a bluff overlooking the Alazani Valley which is home to some of Georgia’s most renowned wines. Surreal views of the distant Greater Caucasus Mountains embellish the scenery. Sighnaghi is the perfect base from which to embark on a journey of exploration into the vineyards Georgia’s premier wine country. Wine tours are a must-do for any visitor as several vineyards and wineries are just a short drive from the town center.
The town has recently undergone significant restoration and infrastructural improvement rendering Sighnaghi a must-see destination in Georgia. Casino gambling, high end hotels and dining, fine wines and a stunning view of the Alazani Appalachian make Sighnaghi one of Georgia’s most attractive small towns.
As is typical of Georgia, Sighnaghi is endowed with significant historic and cultural heritage sites. Its charming cobblestone streets and alleys, restored original nouveau woodwork, and italic facades give the town a romantic mystique. Billed the “city of love”, Sighnaghi is a popular wedding venue. Its marriage chapel hosts ceremonies taking place all hours of the day and night. It is also a frequent venue for traditional Georgian dance recitals, music and craft festivals.
Sighnaghi’s location in the eastern region of Kakheti allows for weather which permits a pleasant visit any time of year.
Sighnaghi Cultural Attractions
Two Georgian Orthodox houses of worship can be found in Sighnaghi proper. St. George and St. Stephen churches are both fine examples of ecclesiastic ornamentation. Both are open to visitors and located with a few minutes’ walk from each other.
Any itinerary for Signagi should include a trip to the Bodbe Monastery just 2 km outside town. This 9th century monastery houses grave and relics of St. Nino who is said to have converted Georgia to Christianity. A few km from the main complex at the site of St. Zebulon’s chapel runs the St. Nino’s spring. Bodbe has survived several partial demolitions from outside invaders over the centuries. At one point during the Soviet Union the monastery was retrofitted and was used as a hospital for several decades. The turn of the 20th century of the century brought extensive restoration and a renewed interest in the historic marvel of Orthodox faith. Today the monastic complex is active as convent. Bodbe receives visitors year-round.
Signagi City Wall
Signagi’s City Wall is an impressive remnant of the medieval past (13th century) and definitely worth a visit. The wall has over 20 towers, all of which are named for specific towns in the region.
The famous Georgian painter Pirosmani was born in the region Kakheti and many of his works are on display at the Pirosmani Museum which also features a hotel in the town center.
Wine and Dining
Sighnaghi has several restaurants serving local, fusion, continental and even Latin cuisine. One of the few wine houses in town, Pheasant’s Tears is a must. The fusion restaurant and local winery is located in the town center and features a and wine bar serving original wines and regional varieties and full selection of Georgian cheeses.
Sighnaghi is the perfect destination for a traditional Georgian homestay. Many guest house options are available at unbelievable affordable rates and reservations are usually optional.
There a few full-service hotels in the center of town. The European offers high end service and casino gambling.
Getting in and around
Sighnaghi is virtually crime free and tourists are encouraged to meander its avenues and alleyways at will. Being a small town of less than 3000 permanent inhabitants, closing hours are generally no later than midnight in the high season months of spring and summer. Off season is even earlier and may vary pending on weather and number of customers.
Sighnaghi is easily accessible via daily marshrutka service from Samgori metro station in Tbilisi. The ride takes from 1.5 to 2 hours.
Taxi service to and from Sighnaghi should be reserved privately with one of the many convenient taxi services. Hailing a taxi on the spot will be significantly more expensive regardless of negotiability.
Driving to, in and around Sighnaghi is by far the most recommended means of transport. Tourists are consistently amazed by the scenery and the town’s ease of accessibility and proximity to several wineries.