This is most people’s destination on the Georgian Military Hwy: a valley town with the famous hilltop silhouette of Tsminda Sameba Church and the towering snowy cone of Mt Kazbek looking down from the west. Now officially named Stepantsminda, but still commonly known as Kazbegi, it's a base for some wonderful walking and mountain-biking.
This 5047m extinct volcano (also called Mkinvartsveri or Mt Kazbegi), towering west of Kazbegi, has much folk history. The Greek Prometheus was supposedly chained up here for stealing fire from the gods, as was the Georgian Amirani, for challenging God’s omnipotence. The Betlemi (Bethlehem) cave, 4000m above sea level, was believed to be the abode of many very sacred objects – Christ’s manger, Abraham’s tent and a dove-rocked golden cradle whose sight would blind a human being.