Driving the wild Georgian Military Road to Jvari Pass

Jvari Pass (Cross Pass) is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2,395m (7,857ft) above sea level, located in the Stepantsminda District of Georgia.

Jvari pass

Where is the Jvari Pass?

The pass is located in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, in the northeastern part of the country, between the ski resorts of Gudauri and Kobi.

Why is it called Jvari Pass?

An obelisk at the summit marks the altitude, but the pass gets its name from a cross of red stone 500 meters to the right installed by General Alexei Yermolov in 1824 to replace one originally placed there by King David the Builder.

When was Jvari Pass built?

The road through the summit is an old route between Tbilisi (Georgia) and Vladikavkaz (Russia). It follows an old path used by invaders and traders throughout the ages. It had existed since before the 1st century BC but had only evolved into a crude horse trail by the time the Russians finally converted it, through the Herculean efforts of 800 soldiers, into a carriage road in 1783. Known since antiquity (it was mentioned by Strabo in his Geographica and by Pliny), the Georgian Military Road in its present form was begun by the Russian military in 1799.

How long is Jvari Pass in Georgia?

The road to the summit, (also known as Krestovy Pereval), is called the Georgian Military Road (part of the E117 Road). The pass is 39.2km (24.35 miles) long, running from Kvemo Mleta to Arsha.

Is the road to Jvari Pass in Georgia paved?

The road is mostly paved, but in parts (due to snow, earthquakes, and bad weather), the surface is pretty bad, turning to gravel. The road is pretty busy and heavily used by trailer lorries. It is pretty steep, hitting a 9% maximum gradient through some of the ramps.

Is Jvari Pass open?

Set high on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountain, the pass is the highest point of the road. This part of the road is notorious for avalanches, but galleries have been built for winter traffic, and the pass stays open for all but a few days most years. Altitude sickness (associated with heights over 2,300 m) should not pose a problem on the road itself, but it may affect travelers that venture off the highway into the mountains. The road is typically open all year round, with the occasional closure in winters due to dangerous weather conditions, heavy snowfalls, blizzards, and low visibility.

Is Jvari Pass in Georgia scenic?

The curvy road offers great mountainous views. The views are magnificent, and the air is of a purity that will make city dwellers weep. The road offers stunning views of Mt Kazbek. Along the road, a broad orange waterfall originates in a mineral spring (with iron in the water) on the mountainside. Near the pass, the road passes the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument, a large concrete monument built in 1983 to commemorate relations between both countries.
Pic: Davit Bumbe