Bolnisi and Dmanisi
A fascinating day trip from Tbilisi into the south-western region of Kvemo Kartli (Lower Kartli, which also comprises the historic province of Trialeti) could include visits to the famous fifth-century three-aisled Basilica of Sioni in Bolnisi and the ninth-century fortified city of Dmanisi. A second day trip to the Trialeti region could be made to the churches at Samshvilde and Pitareti.
To Bolnisi and Dmanisi
Leave Tbilisi on Rustaveli Avenue, heading south toward Marneuli. After ten km (6.2 miles) the road splits: left to Erevan and right to Kumajri in Armenia. Take the A304 toward Kumajri by way of Marneuli. Marneuli is 39 km (24 miles) from Tbilisi. This part of Georgia has a large Azeri population, and many of the villages are Moslem. After approximately 54 km (33.5 miles) you can see the beginning of the Trialeti Range. The city of Bolnisi is 63 km (39 miles) from Tbilisi. A sign marks the lefthand turnoff to the Church of Sioni seven km (4.3 miles) away.
Three km (1.9 miles) along this road you'll pass on your right the shell of the sixth-century triple-church basilica of Kvemo-Bolnisi. This is not your main destination. Influenced by its counterpart Sioni Bolnisi, the central nave of this church, in keeping with the new style, was larger and taller than the side naves that flanked it.