“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” – the Bible
There is the one word, the one emotion, the one feeling that spurs the momentous moments of our lives: love. You, being here reading Miss Hoggy is because you were made out of love (well, at the time). But the name of love is a money churner, too. Look at all the romance novels of this world. How did Mills and Boons ever survive without the romance? Look at all the chick flicks of this world. Who among us, even the self-proclaimed haters (I know you’re out there), wouldn’t swoon to a heart tugging love story played on screen? And why is Valentine’s Day such a hyped up commotion? It’s all in the name of love.
And so, in wine country of Georgia, Kakheti, lies a city of love: Sighnaghi (pronounced Sirh-nar-hi). And you would wonder how did an 18th century fortress town, built to defend the Persians, manage to become (in Barry White’s voice) “The City of Love“? Fortress… Defense… Love… hmm… doesn’t equate.
In search of the answer to that equation, it began with an eight-hour journey that took Miss Hoggy from the temperate low-lands of the West to the semi-arid vineyard strewn of the East that took her breathe away. How can one small country be so diverse? It’s not long after taking off from Isani Station in Tbilisi, you can see quite a distinctive picturesque view of East. How to pin-point it? It’s a bit like from a painting of an Italian landscape. And it gets prettier when you finally reached Sighnaghi.
Sighnaghi, from the Turkish word ‘siginak’, meaning shelter, was established by King Erekle II as a refuge against the Lezgian and Persian invasion. Owing to the 18th and 19th century’s fortification of walls and the beautiful view over the Alazani valley, it does give this hilltop town a romantic feel. I suppose, with any ancient towns or cities, with a slight romantic inclination, City of Love is good name to coin as any to draw tourists in, for a government who was attempting to boost tourism post-civil war, that is.
Okay, well, maybe Miss Hoggy is a bit cynical with the whole manufacturing of this particular City of Love with just the look of this place. But I must admit, this town is pretty, rich in history and laden with her own Little Great Wall of Georgia- Miss Hoggy’s little nickname for the King Erekle II’s 4km defensive wall. And it does make one feel like you’re in a romantic movie when you’re walking along the cobbled stone streets here, especially at night. Does that really justify the name City of Love?
Perhaps I don’t like the name of love being used in vain, just for the sake of commercialism. But, let’s take a step back. Sighnaghi was created as a refuge, as a safe place, at a very fragile and troubled time. It was done in defence to protect what they love: their home. Maybe, it is a city built out of love, after all.Facts: Sighnaghi is 1 hour 45 mins away from Tbilisi. Take a marshrutka from Isani station, it would cost you 6 laris. We stayed in Nato and Lado’s Homestay, upon recommendation on Thorntree.
A special shout out to Liane, whose amazing pictures are exhibited on this post. Without your invite, I wouldn’t have been bothered to haul myself with the journey to the east at all.