“It is impossible to compare Georgia to any other country” – Foreign photographer’s perspective
19 January, 2016
“It is impossible to compare Georgia to any other country” – Foreign photographer’s perspective
Ilya a.k.a Einsiedler is an amateur photographer from Belarus who lives in Germany and works in the field of information technology. While travelling through Georgia, Ilya has captured the country’s nature, regions, landmarks and people with his camera. As he says, photography is just a hobby for him, but his photos leave people speechless. Georgian Journal has contacted the tourist who named Georgia a source of his inspiration to learn more things about his trips and art.

- When did
you visit Georgia? How did you find out about Georgia?

- I visited Georgia twice last year. My first visit was in June, together with a group of Germans on a photo tour that lasted for two weeks. For the second time, I visited Tbilisi in autumn, alone.

When I realized that I was tired of going on trips with 30 people, I decided to change something. In addition, I have discovered that there existed such a wonderful thing as photo tours oriented towards photography enthusiasts that allow for maximum use of solar time. So I made a list of countries and started to think which of them I should visit first. I closed my eyes and suddenly a light bulb switched on in my head… Georgia!

Kazbegi Mount and Gergeti Trinity Church hidden in the shadow
Like everyone from the post-Soviet countries, I have heard many things about Georgia. My uncle used to tell me stories about his student years spent hiking in the mountains of Georgia and the Caucasus. My mother was dreaming about visiting this country that she envisaged as the country of legends and a fabulous kingdom. After visiting Georgia myself, I understand why the great Russian poets such as Lermontov were so inspired by this country.

- Could you recall some of the more interesting moments of your journey through Georgia? What did you enjoy most of all?

- I was amazed by Kazbegi Mountain, centuries-old towers of Ushguli and Mestia in Svaneti, the snowy peak of Shkhara, the highest point in Georgia, the immense Dariali Gorge, an ancient rock-hewn town Uplistsikhe and incredible David Gareja Monastery built on cliffs. I was extremely happy that instead of the endless tap-tap-tap of keyboards and phone calls of a soulless office I was surrounded by fascinating nature, listened to monks’ prayers in ancient churches and enjoyed unforgettable juicy barbeque called mtsvadi along with invigorating Saperavi wine.

I still cannot forget meeting the dawn with a breathtaking view of Mount Kazbek lit by the rays of a newly risen sun while sanctuary lamps of Gergeti Trinity Church flickered in the shadow.

A kid with a baby lamb in Ushguli, Svaneti
Another unforgettable moment was when I ascended the hill in Ushguli (the highest inhabited place in Europe) during the sunset and suddenly a magic portal with an amazing view emerged from the thick clouds in front of me. Then I realized that it was just a tiny part of something great and colossal.

It is impossible not to mention a small market in the city of Rustavi, where we stopped on our way to David Gareja Complex. The hospitable saleswomen gave me vegetables and other products for free only because I took a few photos of them. And when I visited them on my second trip and presented the printed photos, it was a true catharsis!

- Could you share your impressions about our country, its people and culture?

- Bright, rich and diverse culture! It is impossible to compare Georgia to any other country. I was impressed by the Georgian folk dances performed at Tbilisoba Celebration marking the establishment of the capital. The performance was a real storm of emotions, passion, great choreography and beautiful costumes. The unique architecture, interior design of temples and monasteries was fascinating as well. I am still under the deep impression of Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani’s distinct and sincere minimalistic art. Moreover, Georgian cuisine should be mentioned as well! During my stay in Georgia, I felt as if I was Winnie the Pooh who got stuck in Rabbit’s den after eating too much. I think Georgian food deserves a respectable place on the culinary Olympus! I have included Saperavi wine, along with Kisi wine stored in kvevri (earthenware vessel) and Sarajishvili cognac in my list of top drinks. As for the people, they are extremely warm, emotional, hospitable and attractive. Communicating with them was a big pleasure for me.


- Which regions have you visited and which of them has attracted you most of all?geotv.ge

- Each day of my trip was exceptional, bright, interesting and new. I have been to Tbilisi, Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Kakheti, Shida Kartli, Imereti and Svaneti regions of Georgia. The sights I liked most of all are as follows: beautiful and bright streets of Tbilisi, epic landscapes along the Georgian Military Road, Stepantsminda - center of the Kazbegi Municipality, 6th century Jvari Monastery, David Gareja Monastery Complex, 16th-century Gremi Fortress, Kabali Market, Uplistsikhe, Gelati Monastery, Mestia City and Ushguli Village in Svaneti.

- We became particularly interested in photos of the massive stone heads that you took in the village of Sno. How did you find them and what is unique about these monuments, in your opinion?

- Our guide explained that these sculptures depicted great Georgian writers: Vazha Pshavela, Ilia Chavchavadze, Shota Rustaveli and Alexandr Kazbegi. So we stopped there for a while. Severe face sculptures, endless mountains, menacing sky, the ancient village and utter silence – all this created some kind of mystical atmosphere. In my opinion, the uniqueness of these monuments of outstanding personalities who have reached the peak of creativity lies in their harmony and integrity with the place they are located in.

- Tell us about your future plans.

- I would like to travel from Tbilisi to Kvemo Kartli and Smatskhe-Javakheti (historic provinces in southeastern Georgia) through Manglisi road. In addition, I want to visit Ninotsminda and Akhalkalaki towns as well as Paravani and Sagamo Lakes. Moreover, I would like to pay a visit to the cave monastery of Vardzia, Abastumani and Akhatsikhe towns and finally reach Batumi, a seaside city on the Black Sea coast.

A giant sculpture of Shota Rustaveli the village of Sno
My travel list also includes: Kutaisi, Bordjomi, Chiatura, Kumistavi Cave, Tabakini Monastery with its nursery of Caucasian Shepherd dogs as well as Katskhi pillar. I dream of travelling through the amazing landscapes and villages of Khevsureti, Tusheti and Svaneti. I want to cross the Abano pass together with local peasants, participate in a grape harvest in Kakheti, photograph the village craftsmen at their work and attended the magical Georgian dance performance one more time.

Author: Lika Chigladze

Related story:

Giant Sculptures of Giant Minds - And A Foreign Photograph Mesmerized By Them

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