The Independent: Inside Ushguli, The most remote village in Georgia
05 February, 2018
The Independent: Inside Ushguli, The most remote village in Georgia
Famous British online newspaper The Independent uncovers Georgia’s most remote village of Ushguli located in Svaneti. The popularity of this highland has been boosted even more by the direct flights that were recently launched, as the publication says.

“Georgia’s on everyone’s minds, at the moment. With Tbilisi reigning as the hot ‘new’ city break, thanks to direct flights which launched last year and new flights from Luton to Kuta
isi opening up the north of the country, it feels like everyone is going. One place they aren’t going, though, is to Svaneti, in the far, mountainous north of the country and in particular, to the four villages that make up Ushguli, one of the region’s most remote outposts and Europe’s highest permanent settlement”, the article reads.

Author of the article emphasizes distinctiveness of the place : ” Tough and taciturn, speaking an archaic Georgian dialect and practising a version of Orthodox Christianity owing much to earlier beliefs, Svan cultural identity is distinct”. The highland has been isolated for quite a long time due to its location, harsh conditions and instability, yet once the country’s most dangerous road, the route to regional capital Mestia has now been upgraded. Currently one can get there in around 5 hours from Kutaisi city.
Kutaisi Airport

The publication mentions Zhibiani , one of the four villages in Ushguli community. The place is known for its medieval towers and the surrealist artist who captivates tourists with his unusual and psychedelic artworks. The village was abandoned for some time and emptied, but now tourism has brought people back. At present many of the locals run they own guesthouses and host foreign visitors in their authentic dwellings.

“In Zhibiani, one of the larger villages, ancient Svan defensive towers overlook the winding lanes and wandering livestock. Substantial stone buildings of two storeys, upper floors fronted by enclosed wooden balconies, lie in varying states of repair. Despite its rough and ready nature, for centuries Svaneti proved a safe and remote repository for art and learning, usually under the protection of Orthodox monasteries. On a hill overlooking Zhibiani, against the backdrop of Shkhara’s snowy 5,000m massif, Lammeria monastery remains home of the Bishop of Upper Svaneti. Past a shepherd dog the size of a pony is the entrance, where a bearded and robed monk appears and rings a peel of three bells. He opens the door to a tiny 10th century chapel and motions us to enter, lighting a candle before we take a seat”, The Independent reports.
Pridon Nizharadze (right) and Nick Redmayne (left)

Author of the article and his guide were hosted by the famous local artist in his studio that serves as a gallery in the wilderness. “Not everyone in Ushguli is so straightforward. Surrealist artist Pridon Nijharadze also lives in Zhibiani, leading a reclusive existence and giving few interviews. We walk along narrow alleys, past abandoned Russian trucks and silently wandering cows, to a half-stone, half-wooden building. At the top of a flight of steps, a whiskered elderly man eyes our approach – Pridon, as it turns out. Little by little Pridon opens more doors, allowing us further into his studio’s inner sanctum. “This,” he says, pointing at a brooding canvas detailing multiple Svan towers, “is the Tower of Babel”. He interprets other references for us – scissors are actually a woman’s legs. Pridon’s art has always been designed to provoke. I ask the source of his inspiration: “It comes from the cosmos,” he replies without a moment’s hesitation.”

Read full story at The Independent

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