Mysterious SVANETI

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Price:  135 USD PP
Children policy: under 3 years -free of charge, 4 -11 years- half price
Starting time: 6:00 AM
Duration: 2 days /1 night

The price includes: transportation service, 1 night in local guest house, HB meal, entrance tickets, a qualified tour guide.

Tour to Svaneti covers the main attractions of Svaneti region. UNESCO world heritage sites are the most attractive to see on this tour. The architecture of the houses, Svan dwelling towers are amazing samples of Svanetian people culture. The most of the churches and towers are dated from 10th-12th century.
By visiting the region Svaneti you will discover the amazing isolated culture, totally different from the other world, the stories about brave Svanetian people will make you surprise. This is a region where Georgians were keeping the treasure of the country in different periods to save it from the invaders.
During the tour you will visit:

Enguri water dam

World’s highest arch dam (completed 1980), located on the Inguri River in western Georgia near the point at which the river leaves the Caucasus Mountains on its way to the Black Sea. It is a huge 892-foot- (272-metre-) tall double-curvature arch dam with a crest length of 2,231 feet (680 m). The dam was built of interlocking stacks of concrete monoliths laid over reinforced limestone bedrock. The five-unit power plant associated with the dam has a planned power capacity of 1,300 megawatts.

Mestia

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia

Svaneti Historical-Ethnographic Museum includes a diverse exhibition featuring almost all fields of Svaneti ethnocultural heritage and handicrafts. The visit to the museum begins with the introduction of archeological material dating back to the III millennium BC. It is followed by a numismatic cabinet. Treasure of Christian art of IX-XVIII centuries, exposition of printed books, religious and secular manuscripts of IX-XIX centuries. The temporary exhibition space of the museum is dedicated to local and international expositions.

The museum preserves the materials obtained as a result of archeological excavations on the territory of Svaneti region, unique works of Georgian engraving art and icon painting (icon of the Savior of the X century, icons of the first half of the XI century with the image of Christ enthroned and icon of St. George of Asani, icon of forty martyrs of the XII century and icon of the Crucifixion, painted icons of the Virgin Mary of IX-X centuries and others.

Margiani family house-museum

One of the main sights of Svaneti is the House museum of Margiani which is in Mestia in an ancient Svaneti’s housing estate. This museum is property of a known family of Margiani. They also possessed 8 towers from which remained only 4. Height of towers and their quantity spoke about wealth and force of a sort.

SHGULI is a marginal area of Upper Svaneti with several hamlets united. It is located on the southern knees of Kavkasioni watershed range of mountains, in the gorge of river Tsaneri (right inflow of river Inguri), 1600-2200 meters above the sea level. By this indicator it is one of the highest human settlements in Europe.

Ushguli is placed in cave-like and well-protected gorge. In the relief of its environs there are both riverside groves and terraces and slant and steep slopes. The average number of precipitations rises to 1200 mm which is very confortable in the existing geographic conditions. On the slopes of northern exposition fir-tree and leafy tree forests are dominant, and on the southern one – secondhand and sub-Alpine meadows. There are several types of landscapes represented in the vicinity of Ushguli which correspond to well-expressed natural conditions in high belts. Especially effective are landscapes of mixed forests on the lower belt of which ever-green Colchis underbush forest is well represented. It is morphed into a high-mountain forest, then into a sub-Alpine and Alpine meadows, sub-nival and nival landscapes. There are fragments of a XII century fortress, several churches, more than thirty ancient fortress abodes and cult construction in Ushguli. Some part of fortress abodes are oldest, IX-X century memorial buildings.

Ushguli is under protection of UNESCO World Heritage list of memorial buildings. Svaneti tower is a widespread defensive construction in Svaneti consisting of 4-6 levels topped with two-layer roof. Svaneti tower used to be built with cobblestone and boulders. The overall height of a tower is 20-25 meters. Generally the main entrance to the tower was on the second level. Levels are connected with each other by a moving wooden staircase available in the interior. On the last level of the tower is arranged a weapons platform with gun emplacements. Svaneti tower is a human abode (murkvami) or it is a stand-alone building. Fortress abode of Svaneti in distinction of tower is lower and more solid and consists of 3 levels. 1 level was used as a living quarter and a barn for livestock. II level was used for economic activity. III level was a loft and was used for defense (for example, Chazhashi Tower). There is so called Love Tower in Svaneti related to a legend: a daughter of a notable Svan noble had a groom who prepared himself for going to war. A bride vowed that she would not marry and would wait for him return safe and sound. A groom died on the battlefield. A bride did not believe the death of a groom and waited for him. To while away the time during waiting period, a father of the bride built a tower at the beginning of a road where a bride spent the whole life waiting for her beau.

In the outskirts of Ushguli on a lonely hill there stands ancient Lamaria church (church of the Assumption of the Mother of God) with regular services. Local residents believe that it was under this church that Queen Tamara, who was a central figure in Svans history, was buried. They considered her to be a Christian benefactor who built all their temples, and gave generous gifts to churches.

Views on Ushba (4700-4710m), Tetnuldi (4850m) and Shkhara (5200m) mountains

And of course Svan Cuisine the distinctive from Georgian dishes. Georgian cuisine is rich of many dishes characteristic to Svaneti, among them famous sulguni – kind of cheese, kaarz – cheese with mint boiled in milk, khachapuri – baked cheese in wheat bread, Pishvdar – cheese baked in corn bread, or Tchkut – baked cheese in millet bread, kubdari – stewed beef baked in wheat bread, sham – corn flour porridge with slices of sulguni cheese, tashmijab – cream of potatoes and cheese mixed with corn flour, chadi – a cornbread etc. There is also a wide range of pasties cooked with different stewed herbs inside. Svans like barley soup seasoned with garlic and pepper (Lutspek) and barley flour boiled in nettle soup (Kharshil). These soups are also very healthy food, they say that if one eats them at least ten times, he won’t get sick during the whole year.

Almost all dishes are dressed with Svan salt – a regular table salt mixture with bits of ground red hot pepper and variety of spices. The dishes dressed with Svan salt have a very characteristic flavour and taste.

Another reason for specialty of Svaneti cuisine is that all dishes are cooked with local, natural products giving a unique taste and aroma to them.

It is impossible to grow grapes in Svaneti highland, that is why Svans have to buy wine in the low-land regions or distil vodka from local fruits or honey. An important attribute of Svans feast is mineral water from natural sources, which can be found all over the region.