Svaneti is the highest mountainous, historical and geographical region in Georgia and is located in the Northern part of Western Georgia. Svaneti is distinguished by acute expression of individualism. The mountain picks, the cliffs, the fortress-towers, which have become symbols of freedom and a strong soul, have attracted the attention of travelers, tourists and fans of mountain sports. This ancient culture is very interesting with numerous cultural monuments, characteristic frescoes, traditions and impressive nature.
The earliest mention about Svans occurs in Greek and Roman historians, Strabon (64/23 BC, 23/24)) and Plinius (23/24). According to Strabon, the Svans in the 1st century were stronger from the neighbouring tribes of the Dioscuri Highland.
The Svans originally were settled in a more extensive area, and they held a significant part of Lechkhumi and Racha. Svans also lived in certain territories of present-day Samegrelo. In the early centuries Svaneti was part of Colchis and then Egrisi Kingdoms. In the first half of the III century BC, during the reign of King Parnavaz, Svaneti was the Saeristavo of the Kingdom of Kartli. In the IV century it became an ally of the Kingdom of Lazeti and often participated in the battles to protect the borders of the kingdom. Svaneti was always independent until 1833, when it was subordinated to Russia. In 1875-76 there was an uprising against the policy of tsarism (when the government of the king was going to increase taxes in the region) which ended with the destruction of the village of Khalde and capture of the rebels.The famous Svan song “Gaulgavkhe” was dedicated to the uprising in Svaneti. Nowadays, Svaneti is part of the administrative Regions of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti.
Svaneti is a region with an ancient and interesting culture. Here, as in the whole mountainous regions of Georgia, pagan and Christian rituals, customs and traditions merge into each other and get a new, unique look. In Svaneti, there are still preserved centuries-old public holidays. One of the most beautiful holidays is “Lamproba”, which is still preserved only in Svaneti. This festival is held in the pre-spring period, for good weather and harvest. The main attribute of this holiday are lamps made of wood. After the rituals, accompanied by lamps, people gather around the fire and singing, dancing around, wrestling, etc. In Svaneti people are celebrating Uplish (Kviratskhovloba) with a great triumph, also the great holiday is Kvirikoba, which is celebrated in the Church of St. Kvirike and Ivlita in Kalas (the same as Lagurka). The celebration of the souls of the dead, Lipanali, is also well-known, etc. It is worth noting Svan folklore with dances, highly artistic poetry and singing. The Svan Lile is well-known, which is dedicated to the god of the sun. In Svaneti there are a lot of myths about goddesses, demons, magical creatures, also you will hear unbelievable hunting stories.
An indivisible accessory of Svan clothing is the Svan hat made of felt. The twisted thread stretched over it creates a cross on the top.
Svan cuisine is special and delicious. In ancient times, the Svan Supra (feast) was considered a symbol of getting closer and respect. The reconciliation of deadly enemy were held at Supra, also agricultural and secular affairs were resolved there. Special dishes are Kubdari and Chvishtari. Because Svaneti is particularly developed in livestock, the cuisine is distinguished by the diversity of meat dishes and dairy products. Svans drinks vodka- Rakhi. From spices Svan Salt is well-known.
Since ancient times, gold has been mined in Svaneti. In Legends, gold-horned bulls and a Golden-haired goddess are often found.
Svaneti is located in the northwestern part of Georgia, on the southern slopes of the Caucasus Range. Racha is bordered to the east, Lechkhumi and Samegrelo to the south, Abkhazia to the west, Karachay and Balkaria to the north. Svaneti is considered to be the highest populated region in the Caucasus. The 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are in Svaneti. Among them are: The highest peak of Georgia, Shkhara (5 201 m), Tetnuldi (4 974 m), Shota Rustaveli (4 960 m), Ushba (4 710 m), Ailama (4 525 m) and others.
Svaneti is divided into two parts, Zemo (Upper) and Kvemo (Lower) Svaneti, which are separated by the high Svaneti Range with the Latpari Pass. Zemo Svaneti is the gorge of the Enguri River, from the Enguri headwater to the Samegrelo border. Zemo Svaneti was divided by Bali Ridge into Zemo Svaneti of Bali and Kvemo Svaneti of Bali. The owner of Kvemo Svaneti of Bali were Dadeshkelians, and Zemo Svaneti of Bali was called free Svaneti. Kvemo Svaneti consists of Tskhenistskali Gorge from the headwater to the Muri Bridge. Lower Svaneti with Lechkhumi has been in the possession of the Dadians of Samegrelo since the early 19th century, this is why it is also known as the Sadadiano Svaneti. The administrative center of Zemo Svaneti is Mestia and Qvemo Svaneti- Lentekhi. Historical Svaneti also included Kodori Gorge. With modern administrative-territorial divisions Zemo Svaneti is included in Mestia municipality of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, Kvemo Svaneti – Racha-Lechkhumi and Lentekhi municipality in Kvemo Svaneti region, Kodori Gorge – in Adjara municipality. In Zemo Svaneti up to 2000 m above sea level, the climate is humid, winters are cold and long, and summers are short, warm and sometimes hot. The average annual temperature is 5.7 °C, -6.4 °C in January, 16.4 °C in July. The absolute minimum of temperature is -25 °C, the absolute maximum is + 35 °C. There is about 1035 mm of rainfall per year. In the highest places of Zemo Svaneti, there is a humid and nival climate deprived of real summer.
Svaneti with its huge mountains and cliffs, which are harmoniously combined with villages with towers, Georgian architecture, important examples of sculpture or painting and centuries-old culture creates an indelible impression on the visitors. The nature of Svaneti is undoubtedly enchanting with Alpine meadows, cliffs, peaks, waterfalls and beautiful Alpine lakes. This side is equally attractive for people interested in culture, for climbers, for skiers or just for staggering, for relaxation in the mountains and for lovers of large-scale views.
Chalaati Falling Ice
Tskhumari Karst Cavern
St. George Church in Nakipari
Matskhvarishi Archangel Church
Jonah the prophet Church in Ienashi
Lashdghveri Archangel Temple
Pkhotreri Archangel Temple
Chvabiani Church of the Savior
Tsvirmi Church of the Savior
Laghami Church of the Transfiguration of Savior
Svipi Church of the St. George
Ughvali Church of the St. George