“Machakhela Gun Road” is one of the most interesting routes in Ajara. Here you’ll be able to see - Machakhela Gun Monument, cannon of the Second World War in Skurdidi village, Tskhemlara Bridge, a waterfall, the Gvara Fortress ruins, Ethnographic Museum in Zeda Chkhutuneti and the most beautiful nature of Machakhela National Park: Twin Waterfall and the paths of Archangel in Kokoleti.
If you have not seen the “Gun Road” and Machakhela Gorge before, it means that you’ll have a few day pleasure tour – a historical travel to the place, where you would wish to come back again.
At the beginning of the route, passing by Khelvachauri Municipality you will find the Machakhela Gun Monument, which has made the gorge famous since the 18th century. It was the place of manufacturing flint guns, pistols, swords and daggers. The Gun Road takes you to the village, where the famous gun makers’ descendants are still living. It is true that the flint guns are not used anymore, but introducing Machakhela Gorge to the visitors, the locals, first of all, tell the history of the gun.
There are also the ruins of Gvara Fortress, built in the VI century. The fortress played a strategic role and had observation towers on its territory. After The Gun Monument you will cross over Tskhemlara Arch Bridge, which is built in the middle ages and because of its narrowness is intended only for pedestrians.
Zeda Chkhutuneti – a border village of Machakhela Gorge
Here ends Georgia and starts Turkey. “You can’t buy a land in Chkhutuneti if you are not from around here. The locals take care of their legacy and even though some of them moved to city, they will never sell their lands”, say the inhabitants of Chkhutuneti.
There are several waterfalls and a solid dirt pathway suitable for walking. If you’ve already been to another villages, you won’t be surprised that most of the houses here are old and made of wood. You won’t be surprised though you will stop many times to observe small, warped, wood windows and maize barns.
These oldest constructions are used to store maize and fruit: corn must be unattainable for mice, therefore the constructions are built on poles and the walls are made of thin planks with cracks to allow air from the outside to dry the corn grains. Each family in Ajara still has such maize barns, some of them are two-storeyed: first floor is used for corn drying and the second for fruit storage.
Museum in a 200-year-old colorful mosque
The Machakhela Historic-Ethnographic Museum was established in 1984. It is a three-storey mosque, built 200 years ago.
The visitors of the museum will get acquainted with the way of life of Machakhela residents centuries ago and will see the household utensils, women hope chests, a machine-tool and devices of the last gun-maker. All the exhibits are gathered from local families and revive the real history of the gorge.
The museum-mosque construction has a highly artistic value: According to a museum director, Malkhaz Nagervadze, the wall-paintings of the 200-year-old mosque do not require any restoration. The colorful ornaments still shine on the sunlight if they’ve been painted just now.
Machakhela Gun history
Noe Nagervadze is a descendant of the Machakhela Gun makers. According to his words, the gun masters belonged to the Kavtaradze, Dzneladze and Kakhide families.
Machakhela became popular because at that time there were no flint guns anywhere else. A flint stone stroke a piece of steel creating a spark which fell into the pan and ignited the powder, causing the weapon to fire. “Machakhela Guns” were very resistant and their bullets went far, that was why they were superior to other guns. You can get more information on the subject from Noe Nagervadze.
Guesthouses at Machakhela Gorge
The priority of the guesthouses at Machakhela and other places is that you can experience a real life of the local families: observe cows on the pastures and have breakfast near the garden, where mint has just been picked and mixed with cottage cheese to be served to your table.
The Guesthouse “Zura” greets guests not only with delicious food. When groups of tourist come, the guesthouse owner, Malkhaz Nagervadze calls his children, neighbours and relatives to entertain foreign visitors with Georgian folk dances.
Family hotel “Noe” has wonderful views that you can enjoy while having your meal: green bean, Borano, Sinori and other traditional dishes. You can observe the whole gorge from the veranda of the hotel. If you wake up early you will see how the mist is swept away and the contours of the cozy houses and landscaped gardens become visible.
Hiking in the mountains
If you would like to travel in the virgin forests away from locality, go to Machakhela National Park, where you can choose the favorable path and walk through the chestnut and beech trees to the Archangel Mountain road. Though apart from this trail, there is the Kokoleti or the Twin Waterfall trail in the Machakhela Reserve. As for 8-kilometer Archangel Path, it ends by the Archangel Mountain.
Important information for the tourists interested in the Machakhela Gun Road