Surrounded by mountains, Svaneti is a great place for visitors seeking an adventure. With many of its mountain peaks over 5,000 meters the region is one of the world’s best locations for mountaineering. Ushba, 4,700 meters, is the most dramatic mountain in the area and considered one of the most difficult mountains to climb in Europe.
Svaneti is also great for skiers and snow boarders. The newly opened Mestia ski resort has amazing slopes for all standards of skiers.
Svaneti has preserved its original medieval architectural appearance to a remarkable degree. The characteristic landscape of Svaneti is formed by small villages on the mountain slopes, dominated by towers and surrounded by a natural backdrop of gorges, alpine valleys and snow-covered mountains.
The majority of tower settlements in Svaneti come from the early middle ages and the Svan towers were primarily used as defensive structures. Most of these towers are 20-25 meters (65-80 feet) tall and have four or five storeys. The tower levels are connected to each other via internal wooden staircases and covered by gabled roofs, with several narrow defence windows. On the highest floor there is usually a platform to attack from during invasions. The towers were built from local stone and some families still use the upper floors for storing crops.
The history and culture of Svaneti is rich with folk music, with rigorous and powerful singing. Listening to these songs surrounded by snowy mountains and Svan towers and fortresses, you will certainly get a sense that you are back in the middle-ages.
Mestia is 1,500 metres above sea level. The new ski resort and a new ski lift makes it possible to ski or snowboard even in the height of summer. Within Mestia, Saint George Church has preserved crosses and icons from the 12th century. Also, Pusdi Church still contains fragments of the 13th century wall paintings.
The Historical and Ethnographical Museum
Most of the treasures of Svaneti are found in the Historical and Ethnographical Museum of Mestia. You can also view samples of metal chasing work from the 11th century, heirlooms from the SvanetiDadeshkeliani royal family and an exhibition of Vittorio Sella’s prints, an Italian photographer who travelled in Svaneti.
Mikheil Khergiani House Museum
The Memorial House of MikheilKhergiani, a famous Georgian mountain climber, was founded in Mestian in 1983. Kherigiani was known for his remarkable rock-climbing abilities for saving many people during mountain rescue missions.
Ushguli’sMedieval constructions, just like the towers and churches of Svaneti, are under the protection of UNESCO. A historical settlement located in the very East of Svaneti, Ushguli is one of the highest settlement in Europe. There is also superb area hiking and climbing, while horse riding and mountain biking are also available.
For centuries Latali was one of the strongest and richest communities of ZemoSvaneti. While the villages around Latali are known for their churches, the region itself has earned a reputation for its talented musicians and during festivities, visitors can enjoy the unique and amazing ancient polyphonic songs of the locals.
The path connects ZemoSvaneti to North Caucasus is in Becho. A 13th century icon of the Archangel can be founda in the nearby Church of the Messiah in Chokhuldi.
The most significant cultural sites in Kala are the Ipari churches of the Archangels and Saint Kvirike (in Lagurka). The Church of St. Quiricus is the biggest in ZemoSvaneti.
The biggest and most decorated church in this community is the Nakipari Church, built in the 10th century. It contains an 11th century icon of Saint George carved in gold and silver.
The village of Adishi, is located several kilometres away from Ipari, under Mount Tetnuldi. The village has four churches: the Church of Christ, the Church of the Archangel, and two churches of Saint George.
The small town of Lentekhi. Cultural heritage of this area includes several notable monuments, in particular Saint George’s Church (10th century), the Archangel Church of Thargizel (9-10th century), Tekal Church (10-11th century), the Lentekhi Castle of the Dadiani family, and the famous Svanetian towers in the village of Leksuri.
LadoMuselianiLentekhi Local Museum
This museum houses archaeological materials from the Bronze Age (implements, weapons, ceramics..), 11thcentury ceremonial cross and crozier, details from a church altar with an image of Christ.