The Upper Svaneti is a mountain valley on the Inguri River. “Svana” is the name of the brave and freedom-loving inhabitants of the surrounding mountains.
The Capital of the Upper Svaneti is Mestia. This is the homeland of the famous climber Mikhail Hergiani, which is also known under the name “Tiger of rocks”.
Svaneti – the remote region located highly up in the mountains has preserved the unique culture and the Georgian exotic. There is over 100 preserved watchtowers here, with the first ones built around 100 years B.C. and the in the next following centuries. The height of these towers are about 4-5 floors in general and is really firmly built so they maintained in good shape even during earthquakes. These structures main purpose was to act defensive towers but also as temporary accommodation for during war times. The towers are placed near to each other so it was easy to communicate from tower to tower in advance, if enemies were approaching. These structures are entered in the list of the World heritage of UNESCO.
It is possible to get to Svaneti by plane via Tbilisi to the Queen of Mestia Airport. You can also reach Svaneti by bus from Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Zugdidi or by car via the Mestiyskaya Route.
Locals Residents of Svaneti — a svana – are peculiar mountain people. They are fearless, charachteristic, freedom-loving. They are very hospitable and hardworking.
They have been living here for thousand years but was never in war with anybody, but they could fight back the enemy if necessary.
The svan people are very handycrafty people – they craft products from gold, copper, bronze, tree and stones. They’re also engaged in beekeeping, hunting and especially in mountaineering – the national sport of svan.
Fun facts of the svana region:
– The religions of svan is interesting; a marvelous mix from paganism to orthodoxy.
– Ushguli’s community – this is the most high-located settlement entering the list of the World heritage of UNESCO.
– The churches of Svaneti constructed in the Middle Ages are made out of tufa – volcanic breed.
– Svana is the most conservative Georgian people.
Don’t get onto a horse to a svan at all! On local custom if the girl accepted the invitation to get onto the mountaineer’s horse — she agrees to become his wife. Even now similar incidents like this continues to happen.
Cuisine of Svaneti.
The main course of Svaneti – is kubdara, куптар or khachapuri Svan. It is a peculiar pie with small cut meat, stuffed with garlic, greens and spices. Kubdari is the main course on holidays, weddings, and occiasionally on every day.
Its also worth to taste the cheese and corn flat cakes called “chizdvara”, the potato puree with cheese called “Shusha”, the “khachapuri”-bread with cheese and in addition to this with greens and beets. An other unique svan dish is the “zishkor” which is an blood sausage.
The sights of Svaneti.
Ushguli! The settlement is located at the Inguri River at the foot of Mount Shkhara, with breathtaking beauty. Its height reaches 5068 m. It is like an medieval fairy tale where time has stood still. It is possible to see very ancient houses and natural slate structures, which has changed color for throughout centuries, and is now difficult to express its shades in words.
Ushgulis towers, amazing ancient temples, the Chazhasky lock (the residence of the queen Tamara), the Museum of icons of Ushguli . This settlement is recognized as heritage of UNESCO and is protected by the state as priceless heritage of the Georgian people.
Mount Shkhara adds the force and stateliness to this surprisingly rich nature the indescribable atmosphere.
Its slopes are decorated with fine crystal-white glaciers. The bright murmuring falls break from these mountains of the river. And at the same time from Shkhara the improbable force and power and also inexplicable feeling of danger proceeds. Mount Shkhara was first climbed in 1933 by Soviet professional climbers.
Height of Ushba – the majestic “star” of Svaneti.
It is the most known mountain in the region and, perhaps, in all Caucasus. Besides the height (4690 m), Ushba can also brag of an unusual form, with the sharp towering peaks on all heights. By the way, its conquest is considered the real feat. Climbers compare Ushba to the Alpine Matterhorn.
The mountain has two tops – Southern and Northern, and its famous for the steep slopes. One more place of interest of the mountain is “the mirror of Ushba”, which is almost an vertical plane on a slope which first was climbed by the famous climber Hergiani managed to subdue that.
Svaneti – this place should surely be visited!