Bolnisi locals tell the story of how Germans, in particular the families from Württemberg, settled in the area in 1817, created European-style settlements, planted vineyards, gardens, and orchards, and built roads and irrigation canals.
For a long time, this place was called Katharinenfeld, but during Soviet rule the name was changed to Luxemburg, in honor of the Polish-German communist martyr Rosa Luxemburg. In 1941, the Soviet authorities deported the town’s Germans residents to Siberia and Kazakhstan, and changed the town’s name to Bolnisi.
Despite that, all the knowledge and contributions brought by the German settlers live on to this day, and some local families today still prepare ham in the Swabian way and bake Zuckerkuchen (German sugar cake).
You can learn about the ancient history of the region by visiting the local lore museum. The archaeological material exhibited here covers all ages of human development - from the New Stone Age to the Late Middle Ages.
The most important tangible evidence of human activity in Bolnisi have been transferred from the local lore museum to a modern Bolnisi museum. Here, you will also see a photo exhibition depicting the life of the Swabian Germans. Anyone carrying out scientific or journalistic work related to this region, will be well served in the museum building, with a media library, café, and veranda.
There are many historically and culturally important sites around Bolnisi, scattered through the valleys of the Khrami and Mashavera Rivers. On the must-see list are the 5th-century Bolnisi Sioni Church, the 5th-6th-century Akaurti Church, the 13th-century Tsugrughasheni Temple, and the medieval fortresses of Chapali, Berdiki, and Buchukuni.
The history of diplomacy in Georgia begins in the village of Tandzia near Bolnisi, in the household-turned-museum of Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani, the first Georgian diplomat, one of the most important Georgian political figures of the 17th and 18th centuries. Orbeliani's visits to King Louis XIV and to Pope Clement XI are stories that the museum guides revel in telling.
Along with Georgians, Bolnisi is also home to Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Ossetians, Greeks, Russians, and some descendants of the Swabian Germans.
Bolnisi also stands out for its winemaking. Local slopes and the amount of sunny days make a great terroir for whites, amber, rose and reds alike, and there is a plenty of small wineries operating in the city, so Bolnisi wine tour is actually a great idea. The Bolnisi is also a PDO - Protected Designation of Origin.