Ravishing Colchian Oda Houses on the verge of disappearing and astonishing stories of their rare residents
05 March, 2019
Ravishing Colchian Oda Houses on the verge of disappearing and astonishing stories of their rare residents
“Georgia is rich in cultural heritage monuments, which have preserved the valuable history and need to be protected. “Georgia is rich in cultural heritage monuments, which have preserved the valuable history and need to be protected. Hopefully, the issue of Colchian Oda Houses will be solved in near future and they will be granted the status of cultural heritage monument…” - says a photographer - Giorgi Nikolava, who walked 15 kilometers on foot to capture Oda Houses and to study the
history behind them...
- Not long ago you took photos of Oda Houses in three villages in Samegrelo… Earlier you photographed Veriko Anjaparidze’s beautiful Oda House...

- The Oda House was truly beautiful and they say it used to belong to Veriko Anjafaridze. The photo of the Oda House is unique as the Oda House was destroyed by a natural disaster and its beauty can only be remembered in that photo. It is worth mentioning that renowned Georgian artist Revaz Adamia transfers Oda Houses onto canvas and has already created 40 works. His project is ready to be submitted to UNESCO in the hope that Oda Houses will soon be on the list of monuments which need to be preserved… I was with Rezo Adamia, when he was working on drawings of Oda Houses and it was right there my desire of capturing the beauty of Oda Houses was triggered.
Abasha region claims the most Oda Houses, which have been preserved in Abasha region to date. I visited three villages in Abasha region – Sujuna, Old Abasha, and Ontopo… I walked 15 kilometers on foot… I was delighted to find Konstantine Gamsakhurdia’s Oda House well preserved; though, actually it is not the one he used to live in; it was built later and is not as old as other Oda Houses. It has been turned into a museum and is now a visitor attraction…
Oda House, which used to belong to Veriko Anjaparidze

- Are all of these Oda Houses abandoned?

- Majority of them are abandoned. When I was about to leave the place, I was informed that there was another Oda House at the far end of the village with a 91-year-old woman – Suliko Zhvania - living there alone. The Oda House is 200 years old and was built by Suliko Zhvania’s grandfather…
- The woman enchanted me when I visited her house... The feeble elderly hunched woman brought an accordion, put it next to her and told me: - “I just can’t live without it; I play it every day and sing. My husband passed away when I was young and I have no children, so I live alone”… She has trouble getting into the yard and stays inside all the time. While she was singing, she told me: “Please, be quiet for a minute and listen! Can you hear that?” I heard a bee buzz from afar. “Are these bees? But how?” – I asked her in surprise… “They are behind this wall” – she said and touched the wall. “My parents were still alive when bees came and settled here. Beekeepers kept coming and asking me to let them take the bees with them and that I could keep honey… But I refused. Bees appeared to love listening to songs and I sing for them”…
Suliko Zhvania worked as a dentist in Zugdidi for 25 years. Now she is the last and the oldest member of Zhvania family living in the surroundings... Zurab Zhvania appeared to have visited her once; she keeps the photos taken during Zurab Zhvania’s visit on her table… “Guests are welcome in my house, anytime; and despite the fact that I hardly have anything to live on, I can always find something to treat my guests with” – She said. Unfortunately, the lonely elderly woman no longer gets social benefits, thanks to a government decision made not long ago… When I was leaving, she told me: “Next time you happen to visit the place, you have to visit me”. I said goodbye hoping to see her again soon...

- Did you come across other Oda Houses with special residents?

- When I was taking a photo of one of the Oda Houses, an 82-year-old resident of the house told me that he had come back to live in that Oda House a year ago; that he had spent his whole life living in Tbilisi and he had just discovered that he had been missing the place a lot… He invited me to his house to have a conversation, saying that he had a lot to talk about, but I was late as I had to visit a neighboring village… It was early morning when I approached a pretty Oda House. I took several photos of that Oda House from afar. Suddenly I heard someone saying: “You may go inside, the door is open”. And when I turned back I saw an elderly woman standing behind me and looking at me. “They have already taken photos of this house; my grandchildren have shown them to me on the computer. “They say it was taken by a photographer from Senaki”. I was about to smile, but I did not want her to notice it…
- The owner of this Oda House passed away and the house is collapsing slowly. They are selling the house and the buyer will demolish and use it to build his barn. The Oda Houses need to be looked after because abandoned Oda Houses have started collapsing and they will have disappeared after 20-30 years. The status UNESCO will grant is crucial for the fate of these houses.
Roofs of many of these Oda Houses are covered with slate, which flaws their beauty and hue. Residents lived only in three of the Oda houses I visited, the rest of them were abandoned. Some of them were locked, so I could not enter. I saw ravishing twin Oda Houses which, as I was told, belongs to actress Ani Tkebuchava.
I am planning to visit Zemo Adjara and capture typical Adjarian houses. I visited Racha five years ago and photographed marvelous houses. I was told, that one of these houses had once been Stalin’s summer house. Indeed, it is an unusual house, which was on the edge of collapse at the time I visited it. I don’t know what has happened to that house. Georgia is rich in cultural heritage monuments, which have preserved the valuable history and need to be protected. Hopefully, the issue of Colchian Oda houses will be solved in near future and they will gain the status of cultural heritage.

Photo courtesy: Giorgi Nikolava

Related stories:

Discover Samegrelo – beautiful part of Georgia in the country’s west

Story of Georgian oda houses in Samegrelo told through photos

Kveri – Georgian dumplings with cheese from Samegrelo

Georgian philologist runs kiwi plantations in Samegrelo
Other Stories
Five Things About Kartuli That’ll Make You Say “Vaime!”
Home to a history that spans millennia and one of the world’s most diverse (and delicious!) cuisines, Georgia’s got a lot to brag about.
Four seasons are not enough! - Well known campaign takes new turn
The online campaign #spendyoursummeringeorgia was extended to four seasons. And it will keep growing, as Keta Goletiani, one of the founders explains.
On the stairways to heaven
It is not very easy to access the Katskhi pillar in the western Imereti region. But it’s worth your time as “CNN travel” states after they hit the road.
Beshumi to Ushguli: Four days in paradise
Georgian Photographer Giorgi Shermazanashvili made a trip from Beshumi to Ushguli. His pictures capture the great beauty of Georgia's west.
First snow arrives in Kazbegi (Watch video)
It is end of August and the first snow has already arrived in Kazbegi.
Easy summer destinations for Tbilisi travellers
Summer is the busiest period in terms of tourism. Here are 4 places a foreign visitor should see in Georgia, Tbilisi to experience city’s modern and traditional mix.
Sakartvelo TOP-1 – Why is Georgia number 1 for the Belarusian photographer?
Georgia among Georgians is called Sakartvelo. This is the name how the Belarusian tourist calls this country.
American diplomat about Georgia: “Every single city has left me wanting more”
Kristen Crocker, American Diplomat has recently visited Georgia.
Forbes: “Georgia (The Country) Is On Everyone’s Mind”
Forbes, an American business magazine, has recently published an article about Georgia.
Amazon Jungle in Georgia - Kolkheti National Park
Kolkheti National Park is located in the western part of Georgia and intends to protect the wetland nature of Kolkheti.
Abudelauri Colorful Lakes – Magical Place to See In Georgia
A Magical, mysterious place, home of the Khevsuretian Gods, with a view of spectacular Chiukhi Mountain,
Koruldi Lakes in Svaneti – Heaven On Earth
Koruldi Lakes is one of the most magical places in Georgia.
Svaneti – the most untouched place by the outside world
French photographer Julien Pebrel traveled to Georgia last summer.
5 must-see lesser-known places in Kakheti
Kakheti is located in the eastern part of Georgia.
Euronews: "Batumi as a center of youth culture"
Euronews has recently published an article about Batumi, a seaside town in Georgia.
Russian tourist in Batumi explains why Russians should not come to Georgia
It has been more than a week since demonstrations have started in Tbilisi and are held daily.
How "Spend Your Summer in Georgia" campaign started?
The group includes around 207 000 members of Facebook and it has been only couple of days since the campaign was launched.
Why Georgia? – Photographer Eddy Li speaks about his experience
As the number of tourists coming to Georgia rises, so does the number of international photographers.
Visit Gudamakari surrounded by the Greater Caucasus Mountains
Gudamakari is a historical area in northeastern Georgia surrounded by Mtiuleti, Khevi, Khevsureti and Pshavi (slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains).
Georgia among Eid Al Fitr destinations
Where to mark Eid Al Firt? This is the question many of the residents of the Arabian countries will ask themselves as soon as Ramadan is over.
Visit Turtle Lake via the renovated cable car
If you are in Tbilisi and looking for a quiet place surrounded by the greenery, Georgian Journal will show you a perfect option.
5 places to visit for entertainment in Tbilisi
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia offers a lot of options to those visitors who love to go out, have fun and enjoy the active part of the city.
4 reasons why Georgia should be your next destination by Ftnnews
Ftnnews, a website about traveling has recently published an article about why Georgia should be travelers’ next destination.
Georgia and Ukraine have nothing in common when it comes to traveling
Kyiv Post has recently devoted an article to Georgia.
Former Swiss Ambassador to Georgia Lukas Beglinger settles down in Ujarma
Lukas Beglinger, a former ambassador of Switzerland to Georgia has left the homeland to live in Georgia.
GEL Exchange Rate