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About Racha - Lechkhumi and Kvmo Svaneti
The region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti is located in the northern part western Georgia. The region consists of 4 administrative units- municipalities of Ambrolauri, Lentekhi, Oni and Tsageri. The region is bordered from the west by Samegrelo- Zemo Svaneti, from the south- by Imereti, from the west- by Shida Kartli, and from the north- by the Russian Federation. The area of the region is 4,600 sq.km. The identity of the region of Racha- Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti is determined not only by its geographic location, but also by rich landscape, rivers, waterfalls, alpine meadows, picturesque paths and roads, Shaori and Lajanuri reservoirs, diverse flora and fauna, mineral waters and resorts of the region are widely known. There are lots of health, mineral and sulphuric waters in the region. From numerous historical, ethnological, archeological and architectural monuments in the region Nikortsminda Church of XI c. and Barakoni Church of XVIII c, Little Oni, Gebi, Kviriketsminda, Lailashi are the most distinguished…
Lilashi is not very famous, but one of the beautiful historical places, situated in Lechkhumi, which was forgotten during the years. After renovating the water pool, and connected with gold-lashi spring, it has become the most popular places among tourists.
Racha-Leckhumi is well kwonw for its delicious cusine, especially- Shqmeruli- fried chicken with garlic sauce. The story of its creation is kind of funny. Once, a patience was given a bottle of milk with garlic as a medicine. He hated the taste, so could not drink it. His skilled wife fried a chicken and poured this milk with garlic. That’s how the most delicious cusine was created.
Lechkhumi is separated from Samegrelo by Khvamli mountain. The history of khvamli strikingly merges with mythology: Medea of Colchis made her bewitching medicines here. Georgian mythological hero, Amiran, as per the legend, was chained to the wall in one of the cavities of Khvamli. Archeologists have unearthed abodes of the Stone Age humans in the caves of the region.Popular festival called “Khvamli Holiday” is traditionally held on the forty-ninth day after Easter, on the Feast of Trinity, on the mountain. Khvamli mountain was described by French, world-wide famous science-fiction writer, Jules Verne, in his adventure novel “Keraban the inflexible” (1883).
Near here is Muri Fortress. Defense facility in Lechkhumi dates to the medieval age. Includes three towers: Head fortress, called “Be Dexterous”, and towers in the West- “Push Him” and “Don’t Let Him In”.
In Lechkhumi is one of the most popular places among tourists, called “Green Theater”. The resort of khidikari is located 4 km away from Ambrolauri center. The main point of interest in this historical village is hall church of St. George dating XI c. ruins of the late Middle Ages “Tsulukidze Tower” and medieval Khidikari Fortress at the entrance to the village, between rocks in the Rioni river gorge. Racha- Lechkhumi plays important role in manufacturing sweet and semi-sweet wines. So, there are many Vineyards in Racha. The area of “Khvanchkara” wine’s raw material base is roughly 903 ha. The microzone spreads from the hamlet of Tsesi to the hamlet of Kvishara. There are many cultural heritage monuments in Ambrolauri: Barakoni Church, ruins of Zemo Krikhi, Bugeuli, Patara (little) Oni churches, Minda (want) Fortress, and others, among them most important are the Church of Nikortsminda and the Barakoni Church.
Church of Nikortsminda- a Dome Cathedral in Racha, 16 km away from Ambrolauri, in the hamlet of Nikortsminda. Cathedral of St. Nicholas of the Racha Eparchy (XI-XIX cc.) according to the donator inscription on the western gate was built by the first king of unified Georgia, Bagrat III. The three-story bell tower of Nikortsminda was built in the second half of the XIX century. The cathedral has the form of a short-sleeved right angled cross. The cathedral is lavishly adorned with rich ornaments. There is a big multi-figure bas-relief with a plot, multi-figure scene (the Second Coming of Christ), images of the Saints, mythical and real zoomorphic figures.
Barakoni Church- is one of the last important monuments in Racha belonging to the Middle Age Georgian dome architecture. Cathedral of the Virgin Mary is located near hamlet of Tsesi. The cathedral was built with cut stone and is richly ornamented
One of the most beautiful nature can be discovered in Utsera- mountain spa and health resort, located in Upper Racha, 15 m away from Oni. The name of the village is linked to the Georgian Queen, Tamar, when she was traveling in Racha. She was enchanted with its beauty and said : “oh, what an unspeakable beauty”. The word “unspeakable” changed in the course of time and this settlement was called “Utsera”, which means “un-writable” in Georgian. So, this nature is really un-writable, and if you want to see that, you should get there. You won’t regret this journey.
You may be surprised, but there is one big Synagogue in Oni. The building was constructed with white limestone and is the third largest in Georgia, after the synagogues in Tbilisi and Kutaisi. Oni is one of the towns in Georgia, where the first ethnic groups of Jews settled. Nowadays, Oni Synagogue is closed, as Jews, who lived in Oni, moved to their Promised Land.
In Upper Racha, in the direction of Mamisoni pass, 16 km away, on the Southern slope of the highest segment of Greater Kavkasioni - Racha Kavkasioni, is located health and spa resort of Shovi.
The resort is surrounded by coniferous and mixed forests, and perpetually snowy glaciers. There are 16 mineral water springs discovered until now. Each of them is unique, different with its contents and is used for treatment of different diseases. The unbelievable beauty of Shovi scenery and the glut of mineral waters has been known from ancient times. in Soviet period beautiful health centers and rest-houses have been built here, including a building of Kurzali adorned with Georgian monuments. Shovi is an interesting place for mountain climbing, skiing, rafting. It is well known to everyone, that in this segment of Kavkasioni, on the elevation of 4,000 meters, there are several peaks, that have seen NO man on its slopes. Also, lovers of walking tours will be interested with a pathway leading to Mamisoni pass following the remarkable Chanchakhi gorge.
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