Tsalenjikha has been around since the Stone Age, and it was an important settlement during the Middle Ages as well, evidenced by its ancient temples and fortresses.
The Tsalenjikha Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior (built in the 10th-13th centuries) is especially interesting because of its unique frescoes. The interior was painted by Manel Eugenikos, a specially-invited artist from Constantinople, by order of Chief Vamek Dadiani (1384-1396) of Samegrelo.
The church is the burial place of the most powerful Chief of Samegrelo, Levan II Dadiani (who lived in the 17th century), historically seen as the most talented but arguably the most ruthless ruler of this land.
Curiously, Italian missionary Arcangelo Lamberti, who lived in Samegrelo during the time of Levan II Dadiani, wrote the chronicle of his life.
The balneological resort of Skuri is located 15 kilometers from Tsalenjikha, known for its beautiful valleys and mineral water. Skuri’s water is useful for diseases of the joints, as well as digestive and nervous systems.
Tsalenjikha has superb hiking trails that lead to Egrisi Ridge, and then on to Tobavarchkhili Lake. The lower zone of the ridge is at an altitude of 1,200 meters, surrounded by dense forests.
Higher up, from 1,900 meters above, there are alpine meadows. If you take a guide, they will tell you about the endemic flora and fauna found here.
The Intira Waterfall with its cave, the Magani Canyon, and the three-storied Barkha Cave are all worth visiting as well.
One of the most interesting sites of Tsalenjikha is the 12-ton swinging stone Kvakantsalia.
Imagine being at an altitude of 1,902 meters, with no phone signal, and the Magana River being the only thing making a noise. This is truly an unforgettable and mysterious experience.
Before going on a hike, don’t forget to stock up on organic fruits and vegetables at Tsalenjikha marketplace.