High in the northern range of the Caucasus Mountains, the Kazbegi region sits against the border with Russia. The Military Highway, with its tunnels and whip-lash turns, is a major artery linking the Caucuses, Turkey, Russia, and the Central Asian republics beyond—an inheritor of the Silk Road’s importance.
The few kilometers surrounding Stepantsminda is marked by grand historical sweeps, majestic mountain-scapes, brand-new infrastructure projects, transport tedium, and one of the most famous monasteries of Georgia. Abandoned villages sit at the foot of steep rises toward Mt. Kazbek, the bones of cattle mixing with the detritus of those who disappeared. Traditional villages are both the same as they were and erecting new structures for tourism opportunities.