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Regions

Regions

TBILISI

Legend has it that the present-day territory of Tbilisi was covered by forest as late as the AD 458. According to one account King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia went hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon (sometimes the falcon is substituted either by a hawk or another small birds of prey in the legend).

The King's falcon caught/injured a pheasant during the hunt, after which both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died. King Vakhtang became so impressed with the discovery that he decided to build a city on this location. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Georgian word "Tpili", meaning warm. The name Tbili or Tbilisi ("warm location") therefore was given to the city because of the area's numerous sulfuric hot springs.

Archaeological studies of the region have revealed that the territory of Tbilisi was settled by humans as early as the 4th millennium BC. The earliest actual (recorded) accounts of settlement of the location come from the second half of the 4th century AD, when a fortress was built during King Varaz-Bakur's reign. Towards the end of the 4th century the fortress fell into the hands of the Persians after which the location fell back into the hands of the Kings of Kartli (Georgia) by the middle of the 5th century. King Vakhtang I Gorgasali (reigned in the middle and latter halves of the 5th century), who is largely credited for founding Tbilisi, was actually responsible for reviving and building up the city but not for founding it. The present-day location of the area, which Gorgasali seems to have built, includes the surroundings of Metekhi Square (Abanot-Ubani historical district).

When talking about Georgia, lovely imagination of Tbilisi – a city of dreams, love and sunshine, comes in the mind’s eye.

The capital of Georgia has not become so beautiful at once. Its 15-century-old history remembers war times, legendary heroism and patriotism of the Georgian people. Like phoenix Tbilisi repeatedly revived from ashes and thanks to its culture and powerful economy over and over it ranked with the world’s biggest cities. Ancient legend concerning the foundation of the city has passed on from one generation to another. While hunting king Vakhtang Gorgasali shot down a pheasant. The bird was chased by the King’s falcon and they both fell into a hot spring. The King saw the birds were boiled. He liked the place and ordered a city to be built there. The name of the city is originated from the warm springs of sulphur water. Georgian “tbili” is ‘warm”.

The Tbilisi sulphur springs are mentioned in the works of many historians, writers and travelers of the world. The French writer Alexander Dumas even regretted that these springs weren’t in Paris. There is a page dedicated to the unique healing sulphur springs in the Glory Book of Tbilisi. The temperature of some of the springs often reaches 47˚C. Tbilisi is situated in the East Georgia in the latitude of 41˚43’ North and longitude of 44˚48’ East.

It is at the distance of 350 km. from the Black Sea and 550 km. from the Caspian Sea. The city is situated at different altitudes – it is 397 m. at the Metekhi Citadel, 488 m. at the foot of Mtatsminda mountain, but the mountain itself is 727 meters a.s.l. What kind of a city was Old Tbilisi? In 1876 the population of the city reached 104 thousand and the territory – 804 hectars from which different erections occupied 55 percent, park – 17, squares and cemeteries each – 4. There were only 14665 constructions, 205 streets, 101 by streets and 16 squares.

After Georgia was annexed by Russia (1801) Tbilisi became administrative center of the Tran Caucasus. From now on the city begins to acquire an European look. Being of peculiar color the city always attracted people from different parts of the world. It was a dream of world’s outstanding poets, scientists and travelers to visit Tbilisi.

Mtkheta - Mtianeti

MTSKHETA – The Ancient Capital Situated at the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers, Mtskheta has been a site of human settlement since at least the second millennium BC. The town is named after Mtskhetos, son of Kartlos - the legendary progenitor of the Georgian people. Already a town of some significance in pagan times, it gained importance as the site of the first Christian church in Georgia. Today it is no longer the capital of the country, but it is still the spiritual capital and home to two of Georgia’s greatest churches - Svetitskhoveli and Jvari.

HIGHLIGHTS

Jvari Monastery
Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Samtavro Monastery
Shio-mgvime Monastery

Jvari Monastery is located at the top of the hill and is the place where the missionary St Nino herself erected a cross (“jvari” in Georgian) in the 4th century to mark the coming of Christianity to Georgia. Two centuries later, this monastery was built on the same spot.

Svetitskhoveli is the royal cathedral of Georgia, used for centuries for the coronation and burial of Georgian monarchs. More importantly, it is considered one of the holiest places in Georgia since the Robe of Christ is believed to be buried here, having been brought to Georgia in the 1st century by a Jew from Mtskheta named Elias. The story tells that on his return to Mtskheta, his sister Sidonia came out to meet him and, on seeing the sacred robe, was so overcome with emotion that she clutched it to her breast and died in a state of religious ecstasy. As it was impossible to pry the robe from her grasp, it was buried with her near the confluence of the two rivers where the 11th century cathedral is now located.

Shio-mgvime Monastery (“Cave of Shio”) was founded by one of the 6th century Syrian Fathers who lived here as a religious recluse in a dark cave for 20 years, praying and devoting himself to God.

Samtavro Monastery - A little 4th century church marks the site where St. Nino lived and prayed, while a larger 11th century building holds the tombs of her contemporaries - Georgia’s first Christian monarchs, King Mirian and Queen Nana.

Kakheti

Kakheti is a province in Eastern Georgia. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and mountain-range of Greater Caucasus to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and the south, and the Georgian province of Kartli to the west. Kakheti is geographically divided into the Inner Kakheti to the east of Tsiv-Gombori mountain-range and the Outer Kakheti to the west of it. The major river of the eastern part is Alazani, of the western part - Iori. Kakhetians speak a local dialect of Georgian.

The Georgian David Gareja monastery complex is partially located in this province and is subject to a border dispute between Georgian and Azerbaijani authorities.

Beyond the modern-day administrative subdivision into the districts, Kakheti has traditionally being subdivided into four parts: Inner Kakhetialong the right bank of the Alazani River, Outer Kakheti along the middle Iori River basin, Qiziki between the Alazani and the Iori, and Thither Area on the left bank of the Alazani. It also includes the medieval region of Hereti whose name fell into gradual oblivion since the 15th century.

The Alazani River Plain, with the Caucasus Mountains in the backgroundKakheti was an independent feudal principality from the end of the eighth century. It was incorporated into the united Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the eleventh century, but for less than a decade. Only in the beginning of the twelfth century did Georgian King David the Builder (1089–1125) incorporate Kakheti to his Kingdom successfully. After the disintegration of the Georgian Kingdom, Kakheti became an independent Kingdom in the 1460s. In 1762, the Kakhetian Kingdom was united with the neighboring Georgian Kingdom of Kartli, with the capital of the former, Telavi, becoming the capital of the united Eastern-Georgian Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti. Both Kingdoms were weakened by frequent Persian invasions. In 1801 the Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti was annexed to the Tsarist Russian Empire.

In 1918–1921 Kakheti was part of independent Democratic Republic of Georgia, in 1922–1936 part of Transcaucasian SFSR and in 1936–1991 part of Georgian SSR. Since the Georgian independence in 1991, Kakheti is a region in the Republic of Georgia and Telavi is still its capital.

Kakheti is a province in Eastern Georgia. It is bordered by the small mountainous province of Tusheti and mountain-range of Greater Caucasus to the north, Azerbaijan to the east and the south, and the Georgian province of Kartli to the west. Kakheti is geographically divided into the Inner Kakheti to the east of Tsiv-Gombori mountain-range and the Outer Kakheti to the west of it. The major river of the eastern part is Alazani, of the western part - Iori. Kakhetians speak a local dialect of Georgian.

The Georgian David Gareja monastery complex is partially located in this province and is subject to a border dispute between Georgian and Azerbaijani authorities.

Beyond the modern-day administrative subdivision into the districts, Kakheti has traditionally being subdivided into four parts: Inner Kakhetialong the right bank of the Alazani River, Outer Kakheti along the middle Iori River basin, Qiziki between the Alazani and the Iori, and Thither Area on the left bank of the Alazani. It also includes the medieval region of Hereti whose name fell into gradual oblivion since the 15th century.

The Alazani River Plain, with the Caucasus Mountains in the backgroundKakheti was an independent feudal principality from the end of the eighth century. It was incorporated into the united Georgian Kingdom at the beginning of the eleventh century, but for less than a decade. Only in the beginning of the twelfth century did Georgian King David the Builder (1089–1125) incorporate Kakheti to his Kingdom successfully. After the disintegration of the Georgian Kingdom, Kakheti became an independent Kingdom in the 1460s. In 1762, the Kakhetian Kingdom was united with the neighboring Georgian Kingdom of Kartli, with the capital of the former, Telavi, becoming the capital of the united Eastern-Georgian Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti. Both Kingdoms were weakened by frequent Persian invasions. In 1801 the Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti was annexed to the Tsarist Russian Empire.

In 1918–1921 Kakheti was part of independent Democratic Republic of Georgia, in 1922–1936 part of Transcaucasian SFSR and in 1936–1991 part of Georgian SSR. Since the Georgian independence in 1991, Kakheti is a region in the Republic of Georgia and Telavi is still its capital.


Samegrelo

This region; situated between the Rioni, Tskenitskali and Enguri rivers. Samegrelo has its own very strong identity, symbolized by the use, alongside Georgian, of the Megruli (Megrelian) language. Samegrelo is however, famous for its cuisine, which tends to be spicier than elsewhere in Georgia, look out especially for Sulguni cheese and Ghomi maize porridge with Satsivi chicken. Poti Poti, Georgia’s main port. It was originally the Greek trading colony of Phasisi. Its history reflects the myth of Jason and the Argonauts. Maltakva. This resort is 3km to the South of Poti. In this direction there are more restaurants and other amenities, possibly due to proximity of the Supsa oil terminal and its foreign workers.

At Maltakva there is the Okros Tba (Golden Lake) water sports complex used in 1991 for the European water sports championships. Lake Paliastomi Of the many rivers and lakes here Lake Paliastomi is the most beautiful. It has an area of 18.2 sq. km. but its maximum depth is only 3m. The lake has an island, Bokveradzis Kundzuli, which is an excellent place for bird-watching. Zugdidi The Administrative center of samegrelo Zugdidi is 318km from Tbilisi, 104 km from Kutaisi. The first known reference to it dates from as late as the 17th century, when it became the residence of the local dukes, the Dadiani family.

For around 300 years the Turks hurried the Zugdidi area until in 1803 Grigol Dadiani agreed that Samegrelo should be an Russian protectorate. Afterwards the Dukes Levan and David paid a lot of attention to improving Zugdidi, laying out roads and a botanical garden among other projects. In 1855 The Turks captured Zugdidi and burnt the palace , but it was soon recaptured. Museum of History & Ethnography. This is located in the former palace of the Dadianis , in the square behind the football stadium in David Agmashenebelis Gamziri.

The original palace was built in the 17th century but what you see now mainly dates from 200 years later. It is an attractive mixture of neo-Gothic and Venetian, and was specially decorated as a kind of Wedding present by David Dadiani to his wife, Ekaterina Chavchavadze. After her husband ‘s death Ekatherina had to confront an uprising by Megrelian peasants , who occupied the palace, demanding changes in the law to ameliorate their serfdom. Her inability to understand their complaints led concerned Russian Imperial government to abolish the autonomous powers of the Dadiani family and to St. Petersburg in 1857. Her daughter Salome married Prince Achille Napoleon Murat , the grandson of Napoleon’s sister and Marshal Murat. The Palace contains of the three bronze copies of the death mask of Napoleon.

The museum collection includes Colchian artifacts, such as a very interesting 1st century golden head of a deer, many coins, fine pieces of glass and embroidery from the 11th to 13th centuries, icons from Megrelian Monasteries, including one which belonged to Queen Tamar’s mother, and examples of typical Megrelian Houses. There are also some religious relics, mostly from Khobi monastery, which are usually kept, locked up in the storerooms. Botanical Gardens These gardens were planned by David and Ekaterina Dadian. The plant are from Europe, Asia and North America. They used to be well maintained , but in recent times the gardens have suffered too. But they ‘re still Pleasant enough, and free.



Kartli

Kartli is the largest and most populated province of Eastern Georgia. It includes the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and two other major cities, Gori and Rustavi. It is bordered by the mountain-range of the Greater Caucasus to the north, by the province of Kakheti to the east, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the south, by Turkey and the Samtskhe-Javakheti region to the south-west and by the province of Imereti to the west.
In the 3rd century BC the ancient Eastern Georgian Kingdom of Kartli, also known as Iberia, was established here. Its king declared Christianity as the official religion of Kartli in 337 AD. In the early Middle Ages, Kartli lost its political importance because of the struggle between the King and strong feudal rulers, as well as the aggression of the strong Persian Kingdom. Even so, in a way, it remained Georgia's leader because of the independence of its Church and culture from Byzantine influence. Kartli was part of the united Georgian Kingdom in the central Middle Ages. (Georgia was united at the beginning of the 11th century, but Tbilisi, Kartli's main city, was not liberated until 1122. Immediately afterwards, the Georgian capital moved from Kutaisi to Tbilisi.) After the disintegration of the united Kingdom in the 15th century, Kartli became an independent Kingdom, which suffered from frequent Persian invasions. In 1762, the Kingdom of Kartli was united with the neighboring Kingdom of Kakheti. This Kingdom too was soon weakened by the Persian aggression. In 1801 the Kingdom of Kartl-Kakheti was annexed to the Russian Empire.

Samtskhe-Javakheti

Samtskhe-Javakheti is a region in southern Georgia, with Akhaltsikhe as its capital. Samtskhe-Javakheti comprises six administrative districts: Akhaltsikhe, Adigeni, Aspindza, Borjomi, Akhalkalaki and Ninotsminda. There are 5 municipal, 6 settlement (small town), 67 community and village Sakrebulos, and totally 268 villages in the region. It is bordered by Guria and Imereti to the north, Kartli (Shida Kartli and Kvemo Kartli) to the north-east and to the east, Armenia and Turkey to the south, Ajara to the west. Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and South Caucasus natural gas pipeline passes through this region.

Racha

Racha is a historic province in Georgia, in the mountainous northwestern part of the country. Comprising the present-day districts of Oni and Ambrolauri, it is included in the region of Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti. It is bordered by the mountain-range of Greater Caucasus to the north and east, Imereti to the south, Lechkhumi and Svaneti to the west. It is situated in the northern valley of Rioni river and is surrounded by mountains. Formerly, Racha included also a northwestern corner of the present day breakaway region of South Ossetia.

An old fortress in Racha in the 19th century.Racha had been part of Colchis and Caucasian Iberia since ancient times and its main town Oni was said to have been founded by King Pharnajom of Iberia in the 2nd century BC. Upon creation of the unified Georgian kingdom in the 11th century, Racha became one of the duchies (saeristavo) within it. Rati of the Baghvashi family was the first duke (eristavi) appointed by King Bagrat III. Descendants of Rati and his son Kakhaber, eponymous father of Racha’s ruling dynasty of Kakhaberisdze, governed the province until 1278. In 1278 King David VI Narin abolished the duchy during his war against the Mongols. In the mid-14th century, the duchy was restored under the rule of the Tcharelidze family.

The next dynasty of Chkhetidze governed Racha from 1465 to 1769. Vassals of the King of Imereti, they revolted several times against the royal power. The 1678-1679 civil war resulted in the most serious consequences. In this war, Duke Shoshita II of Racha (1661-1684) supported Prince Archil, a rival of the pro-Ottoman Imeretian king Bagrat IV. On the defeat of Archil, Racha was overrun and plundered by an Ottoman punitive force. Under Rostom (1749-1769), the duchy became virtually independent from Imereti. However, towards the end of 1769, King Solomon I of Imereti managed to arrest Rostom and to abolish the duchy. In 1784, King David of Imereti revived the duchy and gave it to his nephew Anton. Local opposition attempted to use an Ottoman force to take control of Racha, but the victory of King David at Skhvava (January 26, 1786) temporarily secured his dominance in the area. In 1789, the next Imeretian king Solomon II finally abolished the duchy and subordinated the province directly to the royal adminis

Imereti

The Kingdom of Imereti was established in 1455 by a member of the house of Bagration when the Kingdom of Georgia was dissolved into rival kingdoms. Before that time, Imereti was considered a separate kingdom within the Kingdom of Georgia, to which a cadet branch of the Bagration royal family held the crown beginning in 1260 by Davit VI, King of Georgia. This was due to the Mongolian conquest of the 13th century which decentralized and fragmented Georgia, forcing the relocation of governmental centers to the provinces. From 1455 onward, however, the kingdom became a constant battlegound between Georgian, Russian, Persian, and Turkish forces until it was annexed into Russia completely in 1810. Throughout the course of that time, Mengrelia, Abkhazia and Guria princedoms declared their independence from Imereti and became their own governments.

Guria is bordered by Samegrelo to the north-west, Imereti to the north, Samtskhe-Javakheti to the east, Ajaria to the south, and the Black Sea to the west. The province has an area of 2,003 km². The province had been under the rule of western Georgian rulers until the creation of the unified Georgian “Kingdom of Abkhazians and Georgians” towards the end of the tenth century AD. Guria then was a province (saeristavo) governed by an eristavi (duke). Following the disintegration of the Kingdom of Georgia in 1466, Guria turned into an independent principality (samtavro) under the noble family of Gurieli, nominal vassals of Imeretian kings. Attacked by the Ottomans at the turn of the sixteenth century, Guria lost Adjaria and became a tributary of the Sultan. In permanent disputes with neighbouring Georgian rulers, two princes of the Gurieli family Giorgi III Gurieli (reigned 1664-1684) and Mamia III Gurieli (reigned 1689-1714) were too successful to become king of Imereti in the late seventeenth century. Throughout the eighteenth century, Gurian princes were involved in anti-Ottoman liberation wars of the western Georgians. As a result, Guria lost the whole Adjaria and Lower Guria, part of which was forcibly Islamized. Prince Mamia V Gurieli accepted Russian sovereignty on 19 June 1810. Russian domination resulted in the 1819-1820 uprising. In 1828, the Tsarist government abolished the principality and annexed it to Kutais Gubernia in 1840. The 1841 peasant unrest as well as the 1905 uprising against the Russian rule was brutally suppressed. The former principality of Guria formed Ozurgeti mazra within the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia (DRG) in 1918-1921 and was divided into three districts under the Soviet rule. The region (mkhare) of Guria was created in 1995.

Adjara is the southern most coastline region of Georgia, once part of the Kolkheti Kingdom, which had close relations with Ancient Greece and Rome. One can find remnants of these cultures in the monuments of Gonio and Petre. There, Roman legions raided and ruled for a time. Adjara, today bordering Turkey, was occupied by Turks, and then returned to Georgia 300 years later. Batumi, the major city of Adjara, is one of the loveliest in Georgia. It was built at the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th centuries in a grand, elegant style as a resort for the Russian emperors. There are fine classical buildings designed and built by Italian and German architects, lots of palm trees, exotic flowers - the jewel of the Georgian Riviera.

Batumi is a major port and resort city. Batumi Boulevard, the main promenade with fountains and cafes, attracts numerous holidaymakers with its greenery and central location. The Botanical Gardens, near Batumi, has unique species of plants from various parts of the world. Adjarian resorts are known all over the world. Kobuleti, another delightful vacation spot of Adjara, where the sea, forest and abundant places for entertainment create the best conditions for holidaymakers.

Svaneti

Surrounded by 3,000–5,000 meter peaks, Svanetia is the highest inhabited area in Europe. Four of the 10 highest peaks of the Caucasus are located in the region. The highest mountain in Georgia, Mount Shkhara at 5,201 meters (17,059 feet), is located in the province. Other prominent peaks include Tetnuldi (4,974m./16,319ft.), Shota Rustaveli (4,960m./16,273ft.), Mt. Ushba (4,710m./15,453ft.), and Ailama (4,525m./14,842ft.).

Situated on the southern slopes of the central Greater Caucasus, Svanetia extends over the upper valleys of the Rioni, Enguri and Tskhenistskali. Geographically and historically, the province has been divided into two parts—Upper Svanetia (Zemo Svaneti; the present day Mestia Raioni) and Lower Svanetia (Kvemo Svaneti; the present day Lentekhi Raioni)—centering on the valleys of the upper reaches of the two rivers Enguri and Cxenis-c’q’ali, respectively. They are distributed between the present-day regions of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti and Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti respectively. Historical Svanetia also included the Kodori Gorge in the adjoining rebel province of Abkhazia, and part of the adjacent river valleys of Kuban and Baksan of Russia.

The climate of Svanetia is humid and is influenced by the air masses coming in from the Black Sea throughout the year. Average temperatures and precipitation vary considerably with elevation. Annual precipitation ranges between 1000 and 3200mm (39 and 126 inches.

The Svans are usually identified with the Soanes mentioned by Greek geographer Strabo, who placed them more or less in the area still occupied by the modern-day Svans. The province had been a dependency of Colchis, and of its successor kingdom of Lazica (Egrisi) until AD 552, when the Svans took advantage of the Lazic War, repudiated this connexion and went over to the Persians. The Byzantines wanted the region, for if they secured its passes, they could prevent Persian raids on the border areas of Lazica. With the end of the war (562), Svanetia again became part of Lazica. Then, the province joined the Kingdom of Abkhazia to form a unified monarchy which was incorporated into the Kingdom of Georgia in the early 11th century. Svanetia became a duchy (saeristavo) within it, governed by a duke (eristavi). The province’s Orthodox culture flourished particularly during the Georgian “golden age” under Queen Tamar (r. 1184-1213), who was respected almost as goddess by the Svanetians. The legend has it that the duchy was annually visited by Tamar. The Svans had been known as fierce warriors for centuries. Their inflatable war banner was named Lemi (Lion) because of its shape.

The marauding Mongols never reached Svanetia and, for a time, the region became a cultural safe house. Following the final disintegration of the Kingdom of Georgia in the 1460s, fighting broke out for controlling the province. Part of Upper Svanetia formed an independent principality, while Lower Svanetia was gradually subdued by the Mingrelian princes. Facing serious internal conflict, Prince Tsioq’ Dadeshkeliani of Svanetia signed a treaty of protectorate with the Russian Empire on November 26, 1833. Difficult to access, the region retained significant autonomy until 1857, when Russia took advantage of the dynastic feud in Svanetia and effectively abolished the principality’s autonomy. In 1875, the Russians toughened their rule by imposing additional taxes. Protests ensued, and Russia deployed troops against the province. Despite having suffered heavy losses, the Russian army units eventually crushed the rebels burning their stronghold Khalde to the ground in 1876.

Part of the Russian governorate of Kutais, Svanetia was divided into two raions (districts) – Mestia (former Sethi) and Lentekhi – under the Soviet rule. The unsuccessful anti-Soviet Svanetian Uprising took place in the region in 1921.

In 1987, avalanches destroyed several homes and killed seventy, mostly school children. Collapse of the Soviet Union, and subsequent Georgian Civil War created severe socioeconomic problems in the region. While the Svanetian population resisted the unpleasant conditions of the high mountain environment they lived in for centuries, the increasing economic difficulties of the last two decades and frequent natural disasters – floods and landslides as of April 2005 ([1]) have brought about a strong tendency towards migration. The province became a safe haven for criminals threatening local residents and tourists. Large-scale anti-criminal operations carried out by the Georgian Special Forces as of March 2004 ([2]) resulted in significant improvement of the situation.




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