24 December, 2021

Top 10 Places in Upper (Zemo) Svaneti

Category: Interesting Places

Svaneti is distinguished by its uniqueness, its dialect, centuries-old traditions, and amazing nature among Georgian regions. This region, especially Upper Svaneti, is isolated. That greatly affected the preservation of identity and historical significance. Svaneti is the most mountainous place in the country; Svan towers became the symbol of the region. Svaneti is rich in high mountains, famous Svan towers, alpine lakes, and customs. It leaves the visitors mesmerized.

"Land of a Thousand Towers", Svaneti, one of the highest populated regions in the Caucasus. Located in the northern part of western Georgia, it continues to amaze locals and visitors. Well-known newspapers such as "The Guardian" and "The National Geographic" have written about Svaneti. The articles describe the daily life, traditions, houses, and ancient towers of the Svans.

It does not matter why you get here. Svaneti is equally attractive to people interested in culture, hiking, skiing, wandering, or mountain vacation lovers.

Check out our list of top 10 places in Upper Svaneti and visit the "oasis" hidden in the mountains.

Since Svaneti is a mountainous region, even summer is cool here. Winters are cold and long, while summers are short. However, you can get here at any time of the year. The route promises an adventurous time.

1. Mestia

Mestia is the administrative center of the municipality located in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region of western Georgia. The nature here is remarkable with its peaks (the highest point is: 5201 m) and the villages on the peaks; The alpine, blue lakes hidden in the rocks are also spectacular, reflecting the sky like a mirror.

Mestia is rich in many cultural heritage sites, Svan towers (found both built next to houses and detached), and temples. The Svans celebrate the ancient, folk holiday Lamproba every year before the spring, for good weather and yield. The holiday is preserved only in Svaneti. Mestia is a perfect place to start your journey. Apart from vacationers, hikers, locals, and tourists, Mestia has become a favorite spot for lovers of mountain-ski resorts too. Here you can find Hatsvali and Tetnuldi skating rinks.

ენგურის (ჯვრის) წყალსაცავი, reservoir, water dam

2. Enguri HPP

Enguri (Jvari) Reservoir - Enguri Hydropower Plant - Reservoir and hydroelectric power plant in western Georgia, located in Tsalenjikha municipality, near the town of Jvari, Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti region, on the river Enguri. The length of the reservoir is 30 km. It was established for the regulation of the Enguri river runoff and energy purposes. Jvari Reservoir is the deepest reservoir in Georgia (226 m). Included in the Gali-Jvari Reservoirs Cascade.

Enguri Hydropower Plant - the largest hydropower plant in the Caucasus region. It was built from 1961 to 1978. The Enguri HPP is a cascade of hydropower plants that includes the Enguri HPP itself. The length of the Enguri River is 220 km. It originates on the evergreen Shkhara (Caucasus ridge).

The Enguri HPP arch dam has been granted the status of a cultural monument of national importance.

სვანეთის ისტორიულ ეთნოგრაფიული მუზეუმი, Historical Ethnographic Museum

3. Svaneti Museum History and Ethnography

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography was founded in 1936 in Mestia. It preserves the items found during archeological excavations in the territory of Svaneti; unique works of Georgian engraved art and iconography; ancient manuscripts; samples of early and late medieval military equipment, jewelry of iron, silver, brass, utensils, textiles; ethnographic objects representing the life of Old Svaneti and others.

The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography has 4090 exhibits - among them are the Adysh Gospels, the samples of old Svan fabric, and pottery.

In 2015, an educational center and a media library were added to the museum. In addition, the museum has a temporary exhibition space where various kinds of exhibitions are held, while 6 halls are for permanent exposition. The educational center of the museum aims to popularize Georgian cultural monuments, art, and science. The programs include excursions to the museum, cognitive games, lectures, meetings with scientists, famous people, public figures, film screenings, theatrical performances, etc.

The museum is open every day, except Mondays, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Price: adult 7 GEL; Student 1 GEL; School student and pensioner 0.5 GEL.

4. Okrotskali Lakes

Okrotskali Lakes (same as Okrostskali Lakes) - Big Okrotskali Lake and Small Okrotskali Lake are located in Upper Svaneti, Mestia Municipality, on the border of Svaneti and Abkhazia, on the eastern slope of the Khojali Range (a branch of the Kodori Range).

The trail is of medium difficulty, however the last section of the trail is rather difficult, it is quite steep, which requires a lot of effort to walk. However, after seeing the views at the end of the ascent you will forget this as well.

The Big Okrotskali Lake is located at the headwaters of the Okrotskali river - the right tributary of the Ormeleti River (right tributary of the Nenskra) at the eastern slope of the Khojali Range (a branch of the Kodori Range) separating Abkhazia and Svaneti; The river Kvakva flows into the Jvari Reservoir. The Okrotskali Lakes route is one of the least known and most impressive routes.

To reach the lakes, you need to reach the village of Lukhi in the Khaishi community, where any type of car can reach. The hiking trail starts 25 km from the village of Lukhi.

The route from the Big Okotskali Lake to the Small Okroktskali Lake is very dangerous. You have to cross a narrow ridge, a very steep slope, and climb a cliff, the terrain of which changes every year. You have to climb 550 meters high and cross two passes, Ergzashira Pass and the another 2900 meter high pass, which is the occupation line. Here is the administrative border between Svaneti and occupied Abkhazia and from here you can see the beautiful views of Abkhazia and in good weather the views of the stunning sea too.

ქორულდის ტბები, სვანეთი - qoruldi lakes, Svaneti

5. Koruldi Lakes

Koruldi Lakes are located in Zemo Svaneti, at 2850 m above sea level, 10 km from Mestia. The alpine lakes overlook the Caucasus glaciers.

Visiting this beautiful place does not require special preparation and anyone can visit it by off-road vehicle. Recommended seasons are Late Spring, Summer and Autumn.

Svaneti is famous for its variety of hiking routes and impressive places, This site is one such place. Broad meadows, fresh, and cold water reflects the high, white glaciers and fills you with a sense of freedom, tranquility, and life. Marvelous views open up from the Koruldi lakes. You will see the villages of Upper Svaneti and the Enguri gorge, as well as Shkhara, Tetnuldi, Ushba, Laila, and other peaks. The expansive spaces, the blue lake, and the peaks reflected in the lake leave a lasting impression on the visitors.

ლაღამის მაცხოვრის ეკლესია Laghami church

6. Transfiguration Cathedral of the Savior in Laghami

Transfiguration Cathedral is located in Laghami, in the old part of Mestia. The first floor of the two-story basilica is named after St. Barbara (Barblash) and dates back to the IX century. Fragments of fresco paintings are preserved there. The second floor was built in the XIII-XIV centuries and is decorated with beautiful frescoes. The north facade of the temple depicts the "expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden," and the east facade depicts "Hunting for St. Eustace. " The temple preserves a gold-plated icon of the Savior (Pantocrator) of the XIII century.

Cafe zuruldi hatsvali ski resort

7. Hatsvali

8 km from Mestia, through the pine forest, you will get to Hatsvali, from where it is possible to climb Zuruldi mountain through a kilometer and a half long ropeway. In winter, a 2,400-meter ski slope is arranged there. At any time of the year, there is a stunning view of Zuruldi with Ushba mountains, Tetnuldi white slopes, and Caucasus ridge.

You can get to the ski resort Hatsvali, 8 kilometers from Mestia, through the pine forest. Hatsvali is connected to Mestia by an asphalt road and a 6-seater ropeway, but you can get there only by car.

The resort is open all year round. There are 5 ski slopes in total, and their length is 7 kilometers in total. The longest ski slope is about 3 kilometers. Here you will meet tracks of all complexity.

The most passive periods are October and November. During this period the ropes may not work. In winter all the ropes at the resort are active while in summer only Zuruldi.

8. Ushguli

Ushguli is located at the foot of Shkhara, the highest peak in Georgia. It is a community located in Mestia municipality. It is connected to Mestia and Lentekhi by roads of national importance. It includes four villages: Zhibiani, Chvibiani, Murkmeli, and Chazhashi.

Due to the avalanche in 1987, the locals became eco-migrants. There are currently 70 households in the community. The village has been in a UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 1996.

The height of Ushguli village ranges from 2060 meters to 2200 meters above sea level and until 2014 it was considered to be the highest settlement in Europe. According to the 2014 census, 1 permanent resident was registered in the village of Bochorna in Tusheti and this village was granted the status of the highest settlement in Europe. The village of Ushguli, Chazhashi, is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Amazing views of Shkhara, Svan towers, and ancient temples with unique paintings create an exotic and fabulous environment. This place is interesting and attractive for nature and hiking lovers, as well as for those interested in culture and history.

One of the main sights of Ushguli is Ushguli Lamaria.

Lamaria of Ushguli is a church of the Mother of God, located on an elevated hill in Svaneti, in the Ushguli community of Mestia Municipality, north of the village Zhibiani. The church has a fence around it with a fortified tower. It is a basilica-type building of the IX-X centuries, with a three-sided, projecting apse. The church has an entrance from the west and the chapel- from the south-west. The iconostasis is made of stone, the chambers of which rest on the stone pillars starting from the floor and are decorated with plain pillars. The temple is also distinguished by multi-layered paintings and inscriptions of historical significance.

Ushguli Lamaria is one of the most important and highly cultural-historical monuments of Svaneti. On August 28, a great holiday dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Lamaria (Mariamoba) is held here.

კალას წმ. კვირიკესა და წმ. ივლიტას სახელობის ეკლესია, church

9. Kala

Kala community located in Mestia municipality consists of 8 villages: Agrai, Iprari, Lalkhori, Davberi, Khe, Vichnashi, Khalde, Laskrali. The main sights are the 11th-century church of Ipra, the 11th-century St. Cyricus Church (Lagurka), and the village of Khe.

Kala Church of St. Cyricus and St. Julitta - in Svan Lagurka, is located in the village of Mestia - Kala. Its height is about 1870 meters above sea level. The church is of the hall type. In the Middle Ages, it was a monastic complex. The church of St. Cyricus and St. Julitta was painted by King painter Theodore in 1112. The paintings are mainly individual faces and life scenes from Cyricus and Julitta. Earlier, in 1096, Theodore painted the Church of the Archangel in Ipari in Svaneti. All the treasures of the Kala community (X-XII-XIII) medieval engraved and painted icons are preserved here. An icon decorated with enamels so-called Shaliani icon is also kept here.

The images in the church painting to some extent reflect local traditions. The frescoes are monumental and their location on the walls strictly corresponds to the architecture of the interior. Paintings of the church are unique not only in Georgian monumental paintings of this period but also in medieval painting in general, with their expression and interpretation of scenes.

უშბის კოტეჯები

10. Becho Community

Becho community in Zemo Svaneti, Mestia municipality, unites 13 villages: Dolasvipi (community center), Bagvdanari, Galashi, Doli, Mazeri, Lankhvri, Nashktoli, Tvishi, Ushkhvanari, Kartvani, Tskhekvani, Chkidanari, Chokhuldi.

In the twelve villages united in the Becho community, old architectural monuments are very rare. The exception is the village of Chokhuldi, in the center of which there is a small basilica-type church. The village of Mazeri is one of the most distinctive of the Becho community. Located in the valley of the river Dolrachala (right tributary of the Enguri), 1660 m above sea level, 25 km from Mestia.

Tags: #Svaneti #mestia #Leisure

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