Discover Georgia
The Daily Telegraph writes about Georgia
29 August, 2018
The national British daily broadsheet newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” has recently published an article about Georgia entitled “Is Georgia the new Puglia? With new direct flights, get there before the masses do.” Georgia is compared with the southern region of Italy, Puglia, which forms the heel of country’s “boot” and is known for its whitewashed hill towns, centuries-old farmland and hundreds of kilometers of Mediterranean coastline. This region is one of the most popular places among tourists and foreign visitors. Such
comparison reveals a huge potential for Georgia as one of the up and coming “hot” destinations.

The main focus of the article is on one of the most picturesque regions of Georgia –Svaneti. It is a historic province in Georgia, in the northwestern part of the country, inhabited by the Svanetians, an ethnic subgroup of Georgians. Situated on the southern slopes of the central Caucasus Mountains and surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. Four out of the 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the region. The highest mountain in Georgia, Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters is located in the province. Other prominent peaks include Tetnuldi, Mount Ushba, Ailama, Lalveri, Latsga..
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Svaneti Region

Svaneti is known for its architectural treasures and picturesque landscapes. The botany of Svaneti is legendary among travellers. The famous Svanetian tower houses built mainly in the 9th-12th centuries, make the region’s villages very attractive. In the province are dozens of Georgian orthodox churches and various fortified buildings. Architectural monuments of Upper Svaneti are included in a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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Svaneti Towers, Photo courtesy: www.kvirispalitra.ge

In the article the beauty and uniqueness of the Svanetian towers is highlighted. It says that the towers “stand like giant meerkats alert and on guard over the little town of Mestia. Their crenellated tops, some 1,000 years old, rise several storeys above the rooftops, tiny window-eyes surveying the scene. These towers are only found in Svaneti, the long-isolated mountain hideaway and cradle of tradition in the Georgian High Caucasus.”

The author of the article also describes Mestia, (the main town in Svaneti)as a miniature capital of a region that holds a special place in Georgian consciousness – for the rugged beauty of its landscape and the indomitable spirit of its people, untamed and unconquered through many centuries of Georgia’s domination by other regional powers (Persians, Turks, Mongols, Russians).
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Landscape of Svaneti, Photo courtesy: www.georgiantravelguide.com

“Tucked away amid the nation’s highest mountains, the Svan are a race apart, speaking their own language, with their own traditions, admired, feared…and mocked. “We call them wooden heads,” says the Georgian sitting next to me on the plane from the UK – a flight from Luton to Kutaisi (just four hours’ drive from Svaneti) that is opening up the region to British visitors. “You can’t explain anything to them.” – says the author.
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Svans, celebrating traditional pagan ritual "Lamproba", Photo courtesy: http://sweetgeorgiatravel.blogspot.com

Traditional Svanetian cuisine also deserves a place in the article.

“At Jena’s Guesthouse – with a new wing just opened – the table is laden, essential to Georgian hospitality. We munch khachapuri (delicious cheesey breads) and kubdari and sip tanniny home-made qvevri, a clay-aged amber wine, as Jena tells us she could now fill her guesthouse twice over.”

Kubdari is a bread meal filled with meat (lamb, pork or kid) and a mixture of onion and spices. One of its particular ingredients is a variety of cumin grown in Svaneti.
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Kubdari, Photo courtesy: www.funtime.ge

Kubdari
gained the status of Intangible Cultural heritage of Georgia in 2015. Another quite popular Svanetian dish is also Chvishdari, a corn bread mixed with cheese and eggs or Matsoni (a milk product particular to Caucasian cuisine, similar to sour cream). The mixture is baked in a shape of balls or flat circles in an oiled pan. Chvishdari perfectly goes with fresh tomato and cucumber salads. In other parts of Georgia, baked corn bread and cheese are eaten separately. Tashmijabi is also one of the most appetizing dishes of Svanetian cuisine. It contains potato, a brined Georgian cheese, salt and water. Potatoes are pureed and then mixed with cheese, water and salt to taste. Some milk can also be added to the mixture.

Beyond Mestia and its attractions, author describes the surrounding areas of the town. Key attention is paid to Ushguli – Unesco World Heritage Site, Svan heartland and, at 6,900ft, arguably the highest year-round settlement in Europe. Ushguli is a network of tiny hamlets each with a cluster of Svan towers. The “roads” are paths of black mud spiced with manure, some barely a person wide.
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Ushguli, Photo courtesy: www.kvirispalitra.ge

Svaneti’sarchitectural monuments are also attractable for the travelers. Tiny churches are revered throughout Georgia as protectors of the faith. When invaders threatened, the nation’s most important icons were hidden away here in this inaccessible region. Even in Soviet times Svaneti retained more of its religion than other areas. Only a third of its festivals survived but that still leaves a staggering 50 feasts a year.

Author also mentions one of the most eminent Georgian legends about the Argonauts.
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Argonauts, Photo courtesy: https://www.itinari.com

“Svaneti is rich in metals; it was once part of ancient Colchis, where Jason and the Argonauts came searching for the Golden Fleece. In fact, even today a few Svan place sheepskins into fast flowing water to collect tiny particles of gold.”

This region is also originating place for one of the most strategic river of Georgia – Enguri. It is 213 kilometres (132 mi) long and plays an important role providing hydroelectric power to the area.
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Enguri River

The river emerges from the high Caucasus near the highest mountain in Georgia, Shkhara, and winds through the mountain valleys to the northwest before turning southwest to empty into the Black Sea near Anaklia.
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Shkhara, Photo courtesy: https://commons.wikimedia.org

At the end of the article the reader can find the information for the tourists’ service in Svaneti. It is also considerable that because of the flexible and direct flights from London to Kutaisi (second largest city of Georgia) by Wizz Air (operates twice-weekly) more and more tourists find it easier and cheaper to visit to Georgia and explore its picturesque regions, including Svaneti.

Source: Is Georgia the new Puglia? With new direct flights, get there before the masses do

Related stories:

Alternative tourism in Georgia

Discover Svaneti – Part 1

The Guardian names Georgia as an alternative to the Alps

Mesmerizing view of Ushba Mount captured in Georgia’s Svaneti Region



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