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Warm summers, moderate winters, exotic fruit, spicy dishes and great hosts – Samegrelo is an area that is difficult to leave. Also recognized as Mingrelia or Mengrelia, this western part, watered by the Black Sea, is homeland to the Megrelians, a differential sub group of Georgians who have their own language, and traditions. The region is a natural cornucopia, full with mandarin groves, tea plantations, chilies, kiwi fruits and wine that has a taste of garden flowers. The wet streets of Zugdidi, Samegrelo’s capital, house some of the Georgia’s best cooks. Megrelian food, much more spicy than in the other part of Georgia, contains dishes that have a taste of curry such as bazhe and satsivi, as well as maize and cheese tacky kindness called elargi, and a local version of Khatchapuri thought to be the best.


The most important reason of visiting Zugdidi is a trip to the Dadiani Palace Museum. Housed in a unique neo-gothic heap that looks like an English boarding school with a Georgian villa affixed, this museum shows the collection of the Dadiani family, the former Dukes of Samegrelo. Together with swords, guns, antique books and a shawl thought to have been worn by the Virgin Mary, the museum also includes one of only three copies of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death mask. The mask appeared in Georgia after Napoleon’s nephew married into the Dadiani family.

The Dadiani Palace, belonging to the ex dukes of Samegrelo area, is situated in Zugdidi town. The museum complex includes the castles belonging to Princess Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani and her son Niko Dadiani, a temple, and an ornamental garden made by the Dadianis. Dadiani’s Palace is decorated by a stone balcony and a huge ballroom. The castle garden is planted with extraordinary trees and bushes, brought from various parts of the world.

Nokalakevi, verbatim meaning “the place where town was”, is a wonderful countryside and an archaeological place of Samegrelo. During archaeological excavations were discovered a few different layers of civilization on the area of Nokalakevi. The ancient layers date back from the 8-7th cc B.C. Different precious archaeological materials were found on Nokalakevi’s area.

In the 7th century the monastery of Saint Martyrs was constructed in the countryside of Martvili. Its base was an enormous oak tree that ministered as a pagan idol for hundreds of years. People worshiped this oak as a god of fertility, fruitfulness and flourish. In the 1st century, one of Christ’s Apostles – Andrew the first, turned the natives into Christianity who later cut down the oak tree and constructed a church named after Andrew the First.

The church is cross-domed, and paintings on the walls of the 6th and 7th centuries. A two-floored cathedral was built next to the church in the 10th c.

In the middle ages the Martvili Monastery was a heart of culture and education. It was interesting to a lot of writers, translators and philosophers.

Samegrelo also astonishes by its nature. There is a large number of unique natural monuments on the territory of the region. The region also became famous for its hospitable people, excellent cuisine and local folklore, especially songs.


In old times Samegrelo was a main part of the kingdom of Colchis and its heir Egrisi. In the 11th-15th centuries, Samegrelo belonged to the United Kingdom of Georgia. From the 16th century to 1857, the autonomous Princedom of Samegrelo was under the regulation of the House of Dadiani.

In December 1803, the princedom came under the protection of the Russian Empire by a contract between the King and the Megrelian Prince Grigol Dadiani. The last adult King, David Dadiani, died in 1853, delegating responsibility to his spouse Ekaterine as regent for his young son, Niko. However in 1857, the princedom was cancelled and absorbed into the Tsarist Russian Empire. Prince Niko Dadiani officially refused his rights to the throne in 1868.

In 1918 – 1921 years, Samegrelo was considered as a part of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. In 1921, Georgia was sovietized and then became part of the Soviet Union, as the Georgian SSR. On April 9, 1991, autonomy was recovered to Georgia, of which Samegrelo is now part.

The first President of the post-Soviet Georgia, Zviad Gamsakhurdia, was a Megrelian. After the forcible coup d'etat of December 21, 1991-January 6, 1992, Samegrelo became the heart of a civil war, which finished with the defeat of Gamsakhurdia's Megrelian supporters. Even so, this area was disobedient by the central government throughout the presidency of Eduard Shevardnadze. Stability in the region is further worsened by the fact that the Georgian fugitives from the Abkhazian war area are mainly Megrelians. In 2004, following the Rose Revolution of November 2003, newly chosen Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, who vowed to eliminate the conflict with the avulsion region of Abkhazia exceptionally by peaceful methods, disarmed groups of Megrelians who tried to struggle a guerrilla war against the Abkhazians by invasions from Samegrelo.

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