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New York Times Travel

Music and Ancient History in the Caucasus

Sapara Monastery"The idea was to take a trip with my 22-year-old daughter, Liza, an adventure worthy of a college graduation present. We settled on a 10-day journey through the small Caucasus country of Georgia, with a swing through neighboring Turkey, in search of the long-lost kingdom of Tao....

"These remnants of ancient Georgian culture were what drew us to join John Graham, an American musicologist and tour leader who lives in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, and seven other travelers on a journey that began in the Black Sea city of Batumi, circling through the Turkish cities of Kars, Yusufeli and Ardanuc, before ending in Tbilisi.

"John himself, whom I had met in Paris when he was touring with a choir of Georgian singers, provided the other lure. An academic expert in Georgian polyphonic chant, with a doctorate from Princeton, he had promised us music along the trip, and he delivered — including in a Georgian restaurant and a Turkish tearoom, isolated mountain churches and a rousing summer jazz concert in a Tbilisi park. Read the article.

 

Testimonials

Testimonials

John Graham’s deep understanding of Georgian culture, history, geography, and politics combines with his thorough familiarity with life in Georgia today. Add to this a keen sensitivity to those around him, a warm disposition, and superb musicianship, and you have a truly exceptional tour leader who will help you not just learn about this ancient land and its people, but to experience it deeply.

Olga H. (Professor, Princeton University, NJ)

2020 Tours

 

Kriste aghdga Christ is Risen Gelati dome

Ancient Christianity in the Caucasus

A Cultural Tour of the most important Christian sites (Georgia & Armenia)

May 4th-16th, 2020

Travel Program… One of our most popular tour programs, the Ancient Christianity tour focuses on the most important Christian sites in Armenia and East Georgia. Our tour begins and ends in Tbilisi, the thriving cultural and business capital city of Georgia. On day 3, we travel south to Yerevan, the bustling capital city of Armenia... Read more here!

Cathedrals of Tao

A Cultural Tour through the historic kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti (Georgia & Turkey)

May 19th - June 1st, 2020

Travel Program… This unique tour program, featured in the New York Times (June 20th, 2017 issue), focuses on the most important Christian sites in the historic 9th-10th century kingdom of Tao-Klarjeti, the location of a great renaissance of medieval manuscript writing, chant composition, and architectural innovation. Our tour itinerary is organized around visiting these "lost" cathedrals, which had fallen into ruin after 400 years of neglect under the Ottoman Empire. But our experience will be infused with traditional music of both Turkey and Georgia, the delicious fusion cuisine and wine of the border regions, and of course a healthy conversation about historical and modern political realities. This tour is perfect for adept travelers interested in a deeper cultural immersion experience. Read more...

Mestia Towers, Svaneti

Walking in the Caucasus - West

A Hiking Tour through the mountains of West Georgia (Svaneti, Racha, Imereti)

Aug. 28th - Sept. 10th, 2020

Travel Program… We begin and end the tour in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia (airport designation TBS) and a beautiful city that featured prominently on trade routes from Asia to Europe. The focus of this unique itinerary will be walking trails in the High Caucasus mountains. We will not be roughing it, however, as jeeps will carry our luggage to the end point, and we will stay in cozy 3-star hotels where a cool beer, a hot shower, and comfortable bed awaits. JohnGrahamTours specializes in the culture of Georgia: therefore, in addition to our walking schedule, there will be an emphasis on visiting medieval churches to see original frescoes, meeting local families to learn about their lives and customs, and experiences with the music and dance of the local people. Read more!

Viticulture and Highlands - West

A Cultural Tour through ancient Colchis, also exploring the highlands of Racha and Svaneti

October 2nd-14th, 2020

Travel Program… The focus of this unique cultural program will be to visit and understand the impact of the bronze-era kingdom of Colchis, and its dependency on the mountain tribes for mineral resources. After traveling to the Black sea coastal region of Georgia (ancient Colchis), we will pay particular focus to travel through the unique cultural and geographical highland region of Svaneti. The region features a unique language, its own folklore, folk music, and cuisine. The villages are punctuated with thousand-year-old defensive towers, and each town has several Christian chapels with original frescoes dating to the 10th-12th century period.... Read more!

Viticulture and Highlands - East

A Cultural Tour through Kakheti and the Tusheti National Park

TBA - By request

Travel Program… This unique tour program features the best of the Kakhetian viticulture region in East Georgia, with an adventurous foray into the exquisitely preserved highland meadows and valleys of Tusheti (Now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Area, and National Park). Starting in the bustling capital of Tbilisi, we explore the multi-ethnic heritage of this city through the museums, architecture, cuisine, and music. Venturing up the Mtkvari River, we visit the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, where rivers converge and Christianity was first adopted in 326 AD as a state religion. After returning East, we take a steep dirt track into the high mountains, going where few tourists brave... Tusheti, land of shepherds, awaits only the most intrepid travelers. Read more!

Sounds of the Tour — folk songs at the banquet table

Sounds of the Tour — liturgical chant in churches

Intriguing Destinations | Blog

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