Mimino Travel

Svaneti-Mestia

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Svaneti

The highest constantly populated place in Europe, Svaneti really has to be seen to be believed – and first time travelers can be forgiven for considering that they have faltered into to a big-budget Hollywood fantasy epic. Svaneti is highland territory, with a few peaks rising to over 5000 meters, and some of the most stimulating mountaineering anywhere in the world. The warm, wet winds flowing from the nearby Black Sea, moderate climate make pleasant summers and surprisingly mild winters. Lower in the deep valleys, this humidity produces what is known as a moderate rainforest, and in the highlands the mountain slopes are covered with pines and hornbeams. But aside from the staggering natural beauty, the region’s real wealth is the culture of its people – the Svans. With their own language, related to but separate from Georgian, their own old traditions and crafts, and their enormous sense of humor, Svans have always been a proudly independent people.

Sightseeings:

Reflecting their pride and freedom, many Svans today still dwell in medieval towers, of which thousands survived. These towers were used to defend families in time of war, and some still house antique treasures, brought up to Svaneti many centuries ago to guard them from encroachers. Indeed, Svaneti’s museums are proud of world class collections of icons, religious manuscripts and jewellery. The mixture of awe inspiring view and jaw dropping medieval architecture is why Svaneti is a UNESCO world heritage site of Georgia, but there is much more to this wonderful region.

Svaneti is also becoming a large tourist centre with multiple of hotels and guesthouses, some suggesting you the chance to stay in a fortress. Despite the tempo of development in Svaneti the Svans remain devoted to their old traditions – especially hospitality.

Svaneti is host to the highest mountains in Georgia, and a few of the highest mountains in Europe – several tops in Svaneti are taller than 5000 meters. Shkhara is Georgia’s highest mountain at 5,201, but the twin-peaked pillar of rock Ushba (410 meters) is the most impressive mountain in the area. Frequently called the Caucasian Matterhorn, Ushba is thought to be one of the most hard mountains to climb in Europe.

Ushguli is a community of villages situated at the head of the Enguri canyon in Upper Svaneti, Georgia. The Ushguli villages include buildings that are part of the UNESCO Heritage site of Upper Svaneti. By visiting Ushguli one will have great opportunity to feel the spirit of life in such a distant area, to get to know improbable architecture, to meet locals, and no hesitation – to enjoy gorgeous mountainous landscape.

Mestia is the heart and cultural center of the Svan people. Svans have their own traditions, extraordinary architecture, cuisine, language which distinguishes from official Georgian. Nowadays Mestia becomes the main tourists’ attraction, it is being renovated and infrastructure developed. Due to rebuilt airport this former townlet becomes easy attainable, tourist come here not only in warm season when one can climb up to the mountains enjoy amazing mountainous landscapes and extraordinary architecture but in winter as well – recently here was opened modern skiing resort.

In spite of its small size, the town was always an important centre of Georgian culture for hundreds of years and Mestia is truly interesting to attend place, which welcomes its visitors with heartily local people, delicious cuisine, unique Svan towers-houses and incredibly beautiful landscapes. It also includes a number of medieval memorials – churches and forts – included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

History:

After the collapse of Georgian Kingdom in the middle of XVI century Upper Svaneti obeyed Imeretian king. In the western part of the valley was formed autonomous property of Dadeshkeliani princes and it became known as the Princely Svaneti. In the rest part of the valley there were free society and it was called Free Svaneti.

Both parts of the valley conditionally joined the Russian Empire, but before the end of the 1840s there did’nt exist neither Russian administration, nor Russian Orthodox Church in the region.

By 1859 the principality was abolished and the district formed a separate police district of Svaneti in the part of Kutaisi governor-generalship.

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