Similar to Abkhazia, South Ossetia is also a partially recognised state bordering Georgia. Despite being separated from Russia by the Caucasus Mountains, as Moscow acknowledges its independence this is seen as an effective annexation in the eyes of the Georgians. Weirdly enough, Nauru, Nicaragua and Venezuela, are also supporters of this breakaway region. Given the difficulty of sometimes gaining access, and the minimal amount of places of interest, South Ossetia is most likely for those who have a fascination with geopolitics, contemplating the complexity of cultural identity, or understanding 21st Century separatism.
Tskhinvali is the capital of South Ossetia, approximately 100km from Tbilisi. The birth of this city, populated by only 30,000 people, is owed to a trading route which once passed through it and connected Georgia with the Northern Caucasus. Nowadays though, this has been replaced by the Trans-Caucasian Highway and the Roki Tunnel which cuts for 3.7km under the mountains and was an instrumental supply route during the 2008 South Ossetian War. Even though this is far from a bustling capital, should you choose to venture around the streets you will find humbling remnants from the war such as roadside memorials and shelled-out Soviet blocks. If you want to learn about Ossetia’s history, there is also the museum which hosts a rich collection of local artifacts and artworks, and not far is the old Jewish part of the town which is home to the last remaining Jews in Tskhinvali.
Kurta was once populated by ethnic Georgians, however since the 1991-1992 and 2008 wars, its population began to dwindle and nowadays it lies completely abandoned. Kurta, and the surrounding area, is part of the Greater Liakhvi Museum-Reserve, and is also home to a medieval Georgian Orthodox church of St. George, along with the crumbling Former Palace of Tsiskarishvili. Being only 9km north-east of Tskhinvali, this would be ideal to visit on a day trip from the capital.
Must hold a Russian visa. Visa/permission required in advance. Contact us for further details.
In the northern hemisphere, seasons with hot summers and snowy winters.
For up to date exchange rates please have a look at www.xe.com
Two prong European style system (type C and F).
Most guesthouses and hotels have Wifi. In cities 4G works well.
Influenced by both Russian and Georgian cuisine.
Alcohol is permitted and is widely available
Predominantly orthodox Christian with minority Islam.
No special dress code.
SAFETY & SECURITY
The FCO advises against travel to South Ossetia. Primarily this is due to the fact it is a self declared independent state and potentially politically unstable rather than immediate risk from attack by individuals. We take precautions when travelling to South Ossetia. Contact us for information on how we work to minimise risk for our guests and staff
Trips in the Caucasus
The Russian Caucasus is an enchanting region, ethnically diverse with towering, rugged mountains. Since the end of the Soviet Union, it has been more infamous for insurgency. Chechnya was for 20 years a byword for a failed state. However, behind…explore