Now this is a mysterious and truly authentic place, locked in the greater Caucasus, so remote and archaic that no invader has been able to surmount it. During the countless invasions of Georgia over the centuries, Svaneti has served as a retreat, safe haven to various icons, arts and other religious artifacts that were brought here from all over Georgia. Svaneti is famed for its defensive stone towers (around 175), originally built between the 9th and 13th centuries, that were intended to protect villagers at times of strife and rivalry. Up to these days, the Svans, inhabitants of the region, have largely retained the traditional way of life.
Svaneti harbours the major Caucasus peaks and the largest glaciers, the total area of which equals 300 sq. km. The maximum altitude is 5068 m. (Mount Shkhara); Mount Ushba (4700 m) is an embodiment of a natural beauty and complexity among the Caucasus Mountains, similar to Matterhorn (4478 m.) in Alps. I’m thinking how to put in words what one experiences when visiting Svaneti region, but, in fact there are no words to describe it. Nothing has been experienced but what has been lived and made conscious. It’s just magical, an absolute must see.
In September 2011 a project to improve services and transport links was completed and the region now benefits from a new Justice House, a police building, a hostel, a new bridge and a 136 kilometer road. Georgian government has brought a new life to Mestia through investing significant recourses for rehabilitation and improvement of general municipal and national infrastructure. The overall goal of the rehabilitation works aims to convert Mestia in a year around destination by developing outstanding ski resort and summer outdoor related activities. The remarkable fact about Mestia is that it features all outdoor mountain sports like climbing, mountaineering, trekking, white- water rafting, kayaking and paragliding. This place has its unique ethnography, nature and culture. I think I will stop here and invite you to examine it by yourself.
Author: Maia Sidamonidze