For those of you who love off-beat destinations, take note! Georgia’s Svaneti region has been protected by isolation for centuries and is so remote that it wasn’t until recently that the place became known to the world as a beautiful tourist getaway. This lovely, wild and strange territory is also home to Europe’s highest village, Ushguli, which is situated at a height of 6900 feet above sea level.
Located in the midst of snow-covered Caucasus Mountains, Ushguli is a community of four villages in UNESCO World Heritage Site of Upper Svaneti. With 4000 metres of snow-covered peaks and flowery meadows as its backdrop, these villages are undeniably picturesque, and give hikers the perfect opportunity for walking trails. But what’s interesting about Ushguli is not the scenic beauty, it’s the medieval villages with their unique architecture. You’ll especially notice the abundance of tower houses here, utilized as defence as well as for keeping villagers safe during invasions. The village of Chazhashi still has more than 200 of these exceptionally unordinary tower houses, which were utilized both as residences and as guard posts against the intruders who tormented the region. Today, around 175 koshkebi (defensive stone towers), initially built between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, still prevail in Svaneti.
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Svaneti is notable for its renaissance art scene. The mural paintings are extraordinary examples of Renaissance’s influence in Georgia.
Secured deep in the mountains, away from the rest of the world, Ushguli still holds an old world charm. But ever since a new road was constructed in Mestia, the chief town in Svaneti, connecting it to the rest of Georgia, the area has begun to modernize fast. While, Mestia is in a full-fledged modernization process, its old town retains novel character dabbed with mark Svan towers (defensive towers made of stone).
In the relatively recent past, Svaneti was still really well off the beaten track. Tourism advancement since the mid-2000s has brought new ski resorts, flights from Tbilisi, infrastructure development in terms of roads from Zugdidi, a colossal increment in settlement choices and numerous more guests, to the point where Svaneti’s only town, Mestia, can get really occupied in summer. Svaneti’s magic and allure, in any case, are in no peril of draining in the slightest.