Explore Svaneti, Tusheti & Khevsureti
A high mountain region in northwestern Georgia, is an unusual and surreal land of towers, rocky terrain, and snow-covered peaks in the Greater Caucasus Mountains. This region is one of the country’s remote areas recently renovated with tourist infrastructure. Now, every traveler who comes here to explore Georgia tries to get a glimpse of Svaneti for at least a short period. Svan towers are the symbol of Svaneti. The height of a tower is about 20 meters. Each tower has four or five levels with a windowed upper part. The last floor was for fighting purpose only. It was used as a sentry post. In case of approaching danger a fire was lit on the main tower. As soon as this flame was noticed on the nearest tower they lit a fire there as well. This process was repeated on and on until the entire gorge was instantly ready to fight. All Svan towers look different by it’s color, size and structure. Mestia – the capital of Svaneti is one of the most beautiful. From here, you can hike up to glaciers, learn about the Svan culture , try local delicacies, and ski at one of Georgia’s ski resorts.
The protected landscape of Tusheti, the only landscape in Georgia thus protected, was created in 2003 in the furthest, northeastern, part of Kakheti and spreads across the whole of Tusheti as well as Tusheti Reserve and the National Park.
Tusheti differs greatly from other protected territories, since historical and cultural buildings as well as customs and traditions are preserved alongside the wilderness here. Tusheti is virtually isolated from the rest of the country; in order to reach it one must drive through the high pass of Abano, open in summer between June and October.
Tusheti is a sparsely populated part of Georgia. Each tiny village is a beautiful monument. Everywhere can be seen towered walls, with the towers preserved almost in their original state. Towers in Tusheti are quite high; the windowless lower storey of each tower is embrasured. For centuries these structures served as shelters and observation posts during the invasions of the Kists (a Georgian branch of the Chechens), Chechens and Dagestani Lekis.
Tushetians are the only Georgians who lead a mostly nomadic life. They come down to the plains in October, pass the winter there and go back to their home villages as soon as the thaw sets in. Boslebi (cowsheds) or winter houses exist in just three Tushetian villages where people remain in the winter.
Tushetian life is associated with the breeding of sheep. Ewe’s milk and mutton are the main staples of the local cuisine. Tushetian women knit unbelievably beautiful stockings and weave rugs with woolen threads coloured by means of natural dyes. Men go to the pastures, grazing their sheep in Tusheti in summer and driving their flocks out to graze in the Shiraki Valley. This is their main occupation and the means by which they support their families.
Tusheti is an interesting part of the world in many aspects. The ravishing nature, the lifestyle, the religious festivals called days of icons and tradition, have always been attractive to the many visitors to Tusheti. The hospitality of the locals too has always captivated foreign tourists as well as Georgians who come from the lowlands to see this amazing place.
The charm of Khevsureti – the fortress hamlet of Shatili is located in the northern Khevsureti, at the confluence of rivers Shatilistskali and Arguni, 1000 meters above the sea level. The complex dates to the advanced and late Middle Ages. The Shatili compound comprises series of attached fortress-houses linked with each other with corridors and thus creating a unified defense system. In Shatili there are also other interesting worship and defense monuments, among them is worth mentioning a complex Kachus Tsikhe, or Old Shatili, 1,5 km from the hamlet, which is one of the most beautiful complexes in Khevsureti. Shatili is a historic highland village located in the deep Arghuni gorge on the northern slope of the Greater Caucasus mountains near the border with Chechnya. The village is actually a cluster of fortified flat-roofed stone dwellings and towers built mainly between the 7th and 13th centuries, which functioned both as homes and as a fortress guarding the north-eastern border of the country. As it’s widely known, Khevsureti is one of the most beautiful places in Georgia. It’s famous for its incredible beauty, and besides, there is another feature that attracts visitors from all over the world – Khevsureti is also mystical place, land of ancient legends! When exploring its ancient villages and castles,it feels like one has transferred into the 16th century.