Georgia’s Guria Region - “The land of the restless”
24 August, 2017
Guria is one of the amazing regions of the west Georgia, standing out from others by its uniqueness, beautiful landscape and people.

Guria is located in the western part of the country, bordered by the eastern end of
the Black Sea, with Ozurgeti, the regional capital. Guria shares a border with Samegrelo to the north, Imereti to the east, Samtskhe-Javakheti in the south-east, Adjara to the south and the Black Sea on the west.
Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

As for the etymology of the name of Guria, some say that the root of the word refers to restlessness and the word should mean “the land of the restless” and is associated with events during the eighth and ninth centuries. when “Leon became the King of Abkhazeti, Guruls (governor of Guria)refused to obey the ruler of Odzrakho, ceased their vassal relations with Adarnase and Ashot Bagrationi and united with Leon” as it was described in Vakhushti Bagrationi’s historical works of the eighteenth century.

According to a later explanation, in the times of Georgia’s prosperity, when its borders stretched from "Nikopsia to Daruband", Guria was situated in the heart of the Georgian territory. The linguistic evidence for the above hypothesis derives from Georgia’s Samegrelo Region. In Megrelian language “guri” means heart.

The explanation of the region’s name “the land of restless” is absolutely suitable for Gurians. Their smart and comical character is well-known throughout Georgia. The inhabitants of the area are thought to be relatively fast in contrast to the inhabitants of other regions. They have special habit of doing everything in a very fast manner. Sometimes it is really difficult to understand what Gurian person is talking about because they speak really fast. There are many jokes about Gurians always being in a hurry. As a result, they manage to do everything in a very short period of time.
Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

The Gurians are famous for their horseback riding skills. In 1893 the Gurians went to the United States and for more than 30 years they performed in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West as well as other circuses and shows.

It is noteworthy that Georgian horsemen often surpassed the Native Americans and cowboys with their unusual horseback riding skills.
Indian and a Georgian horseman participating in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show

This part of country can be considered a green emerald for Georgia for is abundant greenery. Beech forests are found in the mountains and pine and fir trees at higher altitudes. Mountain forests of Guria provide a good habitat for bears, wolves, martens, as well as other animals.

Guria is humid across the subtropical seashore as well as in the mountainous east. The lowlands of Guria are also quite humid. Winter in Guria is mild, while the summer is hot.

You can spend unforgettable time with the company of funny and smart Gurians, taste local natural wines and chacha (similar to grappa). It is widely known that there are very old sorts of vine still preserved in Guria, like Chkhaveri, Kamuri etc. The cultivation of vineyards is a well-preserved tradition in Guria that dates back to antiquity. The inhabitants of Guria are extremely hospitable and their unique sense of humor will simply amaze you.
The most significant cultural sights are the Likhauri church (15th century), the Askana Fortress (16th century), the Jumati Monastery (16th century), the Shemokmedi Monastery (16th-17th centuries), and the palace of Prince Gurieli (18th century).

There are four astonishing resorts of Georgia located in Guria: Bakhmaro, Georgia's highest alpine climatic resort, Nabeghlavi, famous for its unique mineral water,  Ureki - seaside resort known for its healing magnetic sand and Gomismta. These resorts are visited by locals and tourists alike in summer season.
Bakhmaro. Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Bakhmaro is located 2000 meters above sea level. The area represents an evergreen forest covered by spruce and fir trees.

Bakhmaro's uniqueness lies in the combination of the sea and mountain airs. As the experts state, here the blood formula changes in 21 days and the human immune system improvesw. Bakhmaro is recommended for those who have health problems and can benefit from clean air and healthy food. The season lasts from June to September.

Nabeghlavi is the name of a small village in the western Georgian province of Guria. It is also the name of Nabeghlavi mineral water. According to an old story, inhabitants of the region noticed that buffalos were especially attracted to one of the water sources; the very same source later turned out to have special taste and healing features.

Bottling of Nabeghlavi mineral water was initiated in 1958, following the establishment of a health resort in ecologically pure environment of village Nabeghlavi, that in turn was determined by revealing the water’s unique curative properties. Along with their main competitor, Borjomi, the water is considered to be one of the most popular Georgian products both within and outside of the country. Because of the mineral content, it is supposed to have healing features and is especially helpful for gastric problems.
Ureki. Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Ureki – health resort on the Black Sea shore. It is famous for its magnetic sand beaches to which there is no comparison in the world. Ureki sand forms magnetic field that is good for blood circulation organs, nervous system and respiratory organs. It is also good for the restoration of bone fracture. The season is from June to September.
Gomismta. Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Gomismta (Gomi Mountain) resort is located in river Bzhuzhi Gorge of Guria region of Georgia, at the height of 2100m.

This high mountain climatic summer resort is distinguished for its panoramic views, pine forests, Rhododendron luteum (Yellow Azalea bushes), gorgeous mountains and many beautiful summer cottages of Alpine zone. The resort is very beautiful at every season, especially in spring when the nature starts its new life.

In June, Yellow Azalea blossoms appear and the resort is clad in beautiful yellow colors mixed with lots of green and white.

Summer brings here mystic fogs which are similar to the sea waves. They will definitely leave you speechless with an amazing and strong scent of yellow mountain flowers.
It is an ideal place to rest from city’s noise and heat. Every August, Gomismta Holiday (Gomismtoba) is celebrated marking the change in nature.

The road is reachable by any car and one can easily get there from Ozurgeti. Yet Gomismta-Bakhmaro road leading through the beautiful villages offers excellent opportunities of off-roading in Georgia. It is a perfect chance to explore numerous summer settlements of Mountainous Adjara and meet hospitable local inhabitants.

Guria region also stands out for its delicious local cuisine. Gurian people are proud of their cuisine traditions as well.
Famous Gurian Pie is a kind of crescent shaped Khachapuri (cheese bread) stuffed with cheese and boiled egg. As a rule, Gurians bake this traditional pie on Orthodox Christmas, on January 7, as it is called “Christmas Pie”.

As it is known, the shape of the Gurian Pie was connected with celestial bodies and was a symbol of strength for the ancient Gurians.
Another trademark of Gurian cuisine is appetizing Gurian seasoning which can give any kind of salad unforgettable taste and flavor. The seasoning originates from Guria, but is popular throughout the entire country. It is made with ground walnuts and different spices. The Gurian suneli (seasoning) is famous for its unique and piquant flavor. Gurian seasoning especially goes well with cucumber-tomato salad and lobio (beans) and it is definitely worth trying.
Yet another must try dish of Guria is janjukha. Actually janjukha is similar to churchkhela (Georgian candy made with walnuts and grape juice) yet instead of walnuts its core ingredient is nuts. This sweet is delicious so churchkhela lovers should not miss it out.
Gurians appreciate cornmeal more than bread. Mchadi is very popular dish in Guria, it is a very delicious flat cornbread traditionally consumed with lobio (beans) and cheese. Mchadi has always been the favorite dish for every single Gurian.

Author: Bedisa Dumbadze

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