Svaneti

Travel in past – be near sky

Svaneti is the treasury for not only Georgia but for whole world. It is one of the high mountainous settlements in whole Europe with the oldest architecture kept till now. It is astonishing to see the oldest Svanetian towers of protective purpose. Despites many battles ad natural cataclysms they stand proud on the background of highest apexes. Svaneti is real paradise for those who are fond of mountain climbing and backpacking. Here the highest and most beautiful apexes (5200 m.), Janga (5058 m.), Tetnuldi (4851 m.) and Ushba (4700 m.) are located. Seeing them gives great impression and you become eternally fallen in love with Svaneti.

One of the wealthy things and treasures for Svaneti is local language. This region had never been destroyed by the enemy, that’s why oldest Georgian population is unchanged. The oldest traditions are kept till now. Svans sing polyphonic songs and perform those dances which are characteristic to only this area and transfer from generation to generation the mystic legends and fairy-tales.

The creations of wild nature and renewed infrastructure in Svaneti creates pleasant and extreme environment. The ski traffics of Mestia and Tetnuldi function for those who are fond of winter resorts. Modern hotels and hostels host many guests any time of year

Svaneti – is a historical region in northwest Georgia, bordering Russia. Sitting in the southern Greater Caucasus mountain range, it’s characterized by snowcapped peaks and deep gorges. The medieval villages of Upper Svaneti are dotted with koshki, defensive stone structures built from the 9th century onwards. The village of Chazhashi in eastern Svaneti’s Ushguli area features many of these towers.

History –The Svans are usually identified with the Soanes mentioned by Greek geographer Strabo, who placed them more or less in the area still occupied by the modern-day Svans. The province had been a dependency of Colchis, and of its successor kingdom of Lazica (Egrisi) until AD 552, when the Svans took advantage of the Lazic War, repudiated this connection and went over to the Persians. The Byzantines wanted the region, for if they secured its passes, they could prevent Persian raids on the border areas of Lazica. With the end of the war (562), Svanetia again became part of Lazica. Then, the province joined the Kingdom of Abkhazia (John and Adarnase of the Shavliani dynasty, 871–893) to form a unified monarchy which was incorporated into the Kingdom of Georgia in the early 11th century. Svanetia became a duchy (saeristavo) within it, governed by a duke (eristavi). The province’s Orthodox culture flourished particularly during the Georgian “golden age” under Queen Tamar (r. 1184-1213), who was respected almost as goddess by the Svanetians. The legend has it that the duchy was annually visited by Tamar. The Svans had been known as fierce warriors for centuries. Their inflatable war banner was named Lemi (Lion) because of its shape.

The marauding Mongols never reached Svanetia and, for a time, the region became a cultural safe house. Following the final disintegration of the Kingdom of Georgia in the 1460s, fighting broke out for controlling the province. Part of Upper Svanetia formed an independent principality under the Princes Dadeshkeliani, a branch of the Gelovani family, while Lower Svanetia, originally ruled by the Princes Gelovani, was temporarily usurped and subdued by the Mingrelian princes Dadiani. Facing serious internal conflict, Prince Tsioq’ Dadeshkeliani of Svanetia signed a treaty of protectorate with the Russian Empire on November 26, 1833. Difficult to access, the region retained significant autonomy until 1857, when Russia took advantage of the dynastic feud in Svanetia and effectively abolished the principality’s autonomy. In 1875, the Russians toughened their rule by imposing additional taxes. Protests ensued, and Russia deployed troops against the province. Despite having suffered heavy losses, the Russian army units eventually crushed the rebels burning their stronghold Khalde to the ground in 1876.

Part of the Russian governorate of Kutais, Svanetia was divided into two raions (districts) — Mestia (former Sethi) and Lentekhi — under the Soviet rule. The unsuccessful anti-Soviet Svanetian Uprising took place in the region in 1921.

What to visit

Mestia

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Is Administration Center of Svaneti and remarkable monument of ethnography of Georgia with modern infrastructure and medieval aged premises. You may visit oldest churches, Svanetian towers and historic-ethnography museum where great part of Svanetian treasury has been gathered. Ski traffics function in winter for those who are fond of and those professional skiers. Here also functions small airport which is included in top 10 most beautiful and original airports of the world according to BBC survey. Airports provides local flights and is available for tourists.

Ushguli

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2200 m. of height is the highly settled place in Europe. One of the villages of Ushguli, Chajashi, is included in the list of world inheritance monuments. Here we meet Svanetian towers serving as guards; they are up to 30 in number.

Latali

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community located on the border of Svaneti which unites 10 villages. When travelling you may see the oldest towers and churches the great number of which are preserved as ruins. You have to walk a bit far from the road to reach majority of churches, but this is the best way to relax hen walking surrounded by most beautiful nature and seeing architecture of Middle Ages.

Tetnuldi

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the most recent ski-boarding resort. The ski traffic line of Tetnuldi meets the requirements of world standards and is the longest in the world (9.5 km) and has the skating traffic line having large vertical fall (1.7 km). Tetnuldi functions during all four seasons, from this period for ski is 6-7 months per year.