10 things about Georgia that will surprise you
10 November, 2017
10 things about Georgia that will surprise you
Do you think you know everything about Georgia? Let’s test it.

In an article, the British newspaper „The Telegraph“ praises Georgia as a spectacularly underrated destination and lists 10 fascinating things most people may not yet know about the country. Here they are:

1. It’s not actually called Georgia

And that’s a good place to start. Contrary to popular belief, many Georgians know their homeland as Sakarvelo. It’s not entirely clear where the moniker, Georgia, came from but one theory
dictates that it was coined by Christian crusaders in the Middle Ages on account of the country’s devotion to St George.

2. And they do love St George

Oh yes. In fact there’s a giant golden statue of him slaying a dragon in Tbilisi’s central square.
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Statue of Georgia's patron at Liberty square in Tbilisi (Credit: ALAMY).

3. It’s one of the loftiest nations in Europe

Which means stunning scenery, restorative mountain air and, crucially, excellent skiing. Forget the Alps next winter; the Caucasus’ sparkling slopes are renowned for their reliable snow, well-groomed runs and refreshingly low prices.

4. Speaking of low prices...

According to number crunchers at Numeo, Georgia is in fact the seventh cheapest country in the world, which is good news for Britons whose spending power has been slashed due to the weakened pound.

5. Uncle Joe still looms large

His rule of the Soviet Union may have been defined by repression, famine and labour camps, but, according to a report by Reuters last year, Stalin still has many (mainly elderly) fans in his birthplace (though most people, it should be added, see him for the tyrant he was). Nevertheless, it is reportedly very easy to pick up paintings and other paraphernalia depicting Uncle Joe at local markets.

6. It has one of Europe’s oldest cities

That city is Kutaisi, in western Georgia, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Colchis, an ancient region of the southern Caucasus, from as early as the second millennium BC. This timeworn city has been the centre of multiple conflicts between Georgian kings, Russians and Ottoman rulers, and was an industrial centre in the days of the Soviet Union. Its state historical museum tells the story more comprehensively than we do and contains 16,000 artefacts relating to Georgian history and culture.
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The Unesco-listed Gelati Cathedral in Kutaisi (Credit: ALAMY).

7. It’s hard to get to

At least it is for British travellers, who have long been denied direct flights to the country. Consequently only the intrepid currently venture to Georgia, which can make it feel as though you have the place to yourself.

8. Tbilisi is a perfect spot for a city break

Sure, it’s a pain to get to but when you finally touch town in the Georgian capital you’ll find a city rich in rewards: think Art Nouveau architecture, lively bars and bijoux restaurants selling delicious local fare. But don’t take our word for it. “It's steeped in history – the Old Town, with its twisting alleys, is particularly fascinating,” says the singer, Katie Melua, who grew up in Tbilisi. “It's a city that’s very much off the beaten track. Not many tourists have been there, which makes it all the more worth visiting.”

9. The hospitality is legendary

Georgian hospitality is shorthand for boozy merriment with copious amounts of food and raucous banter. Sometimes it involves drinking wine from a ram’s horn. Telegraph Travel reader, Ellen Smyth, eloquently described her experiences of Georgian hospitality in a lovely piece written earlier this year. "We stood, clinked and downed shots," she wrote. "Refilling our glasses once more, the tamada paused before saying, 'mshvidoba!' With murmurs of appreciation we all drank to what was translated to me as 'for peace'."

10. Futuristic architecture abounds

Despite its olde worlde charm, Georgia is no luddite. In fact the country is a keen champion of futuristic architecture, as demonstrated by the space-age Georgian Parliament Building in Kutaisi.
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The spectacular Georgian Parliament Building in Kutaisai (Credit: ALAMY).

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