This small city and surrounding municipality in the highlands of Imereti is home to 42 functioning libraries, an active drama theater and a museum of local lore full of historical and archaeological artifacts.
Zestafoni is first mentioned in historical sources in the 16th century. The name of the city comes from the phrase “Kvirilas zeda poni” (meaning “the upper ford of the Kvirila River”). Four rivers flow through the municipality besides the Kvirila: the Chkherimela, the Dzirula, the Buja, and the Cholaburi. Nature lovers would enjoy the Colchic forests of the area, with a variety of trees, including oak, beech, walnut and ash.
The growth of Zestafoni as a city was based on the ferroalloy factory there, which made the city significant from an industrial point of view. Its products are exported to the USA, South Africa, Russia, and elsewhere.
In addition, Zestafoni Municipality is also home to electricity plants, food production, and agriculture, mostly winemaking.
History lovers should visit the ancient Shorapani Fortress near Zestafoni, which was built during the reign of King Parnavaz. The fortress was so large that it was said that the whole population of the city could fit inside of it.
Zestafoni Municipality also boasts the Diklauri, Sazano, and Tabakini Fortresses, Tabakini Church, which was built in the 6th century, the 11th-century Zeda Sakari Church, and Tamar’s Bridge, in the village of Chalatke.
Another highlight is the gorgeous Samtsvera Waterfall east of the Zovreti village.
In general, tourists can visit Zestafoni and its surroundings at any time of the year, but they should remember that the winters are cold and the summers are humid and hot.
That climate gives the local grape varieties – Tsitska, Tsolikouri, and Krakhuna – an inimitable flavor, so don’t forget to sample the wines.