This is a historical region in the north west of Georgia, bordering Russia. Because of the nature of this region being high up in the Caucasus mountains, this would present itself to be ripe land for fortifications and defence. Providing views of valleys and vistas, as well as the land below. A prime spot to build castles, walls and fortified villages. And this is what we are going to be exploring today!
Also known as Svan towers, these tower houses are defensive dwellings built around the 8th century. On average these towers reach 25 meters high. The idea was that villagers would climb up the towers in case of an oncoming attack from enemies, and throw projectiles onto them from the small holes above in the tower.
You will find these towers also in the village of Mesita. This is now also a skiing destination in the winter months, and at 1500m elevation, you are likely to find some great slopes.
Because they are extremely old, many of them are now world heritage sites. As with many things in Georgia, many of these towers are unheard of, and people do not know as much about this brilliant country as they possibly should. These villages in the mountains were often very remote and high altitude, and therefore they would not have had much in the way of protection from raiders, so these Svaneti towers are the perfect defense until help comes along.
Margiani’s House Museum
This museum is a great find because it shows old style examples of the wood carving, and building techniques of georgia. As well as this the old style Georgian furniture is brilliantly characterful and brings the place to light.
Shatili – A Fortified Village
This village is an exquisite example of fortification and residential architecture mixing together. This small village is situated in the upper caucasus mountains, bordering the neighboring country of Chechnya. The destination gets its name from being in the Shatili valley which is highly popular for walkers and tourists alike.
The village is still inhabited by people although the numbers are dwindling – in 2014 there was known to be 22 inhabitants.
Vardzia – A Cave Monastery
This amazing cave monastery is in southern Georgia, again built from the rock of a mountain. It is known to be the 12th century, as well as very large in size. Monks still live in these cave systems. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site. It has some impressive architecture, and wall paintings.
Upon further excavations by the Soviets, it was found that this cave system was also inhabited during the bronze age.
As we can see these regions of Georgia have fantastic architectural benefit to us and the surrounding area. There is also a great deal of range that is on display. From carving monasteries in the rock, to towers that reach into the sky aimed at fortifying the local landscape. Georgia is no stranger to conflict, but we see today that this has been at the forefront of their mind, and they found interesting ways to combat it.