PARADISE IN THE HIGHLANDS
PUBLISHER Vladimir Dzhishkariani / Tea Chelidze PROJECT CONCEPT Gogi Akhalkaci EDITOR IN CHIEF Nino Daraseli ART DIRECTOR Levan Asatiani EDITOR Irine Zhordania EDITOR & PROJECT COORDINATORE Nino Chlaidze ENGLISH TEXT EDITOR Paul Rimple TRANSLATING Maya Kiasashvili / Cisana Gabunia DIRECTOR OF PROJECT & MARKETING MANAGER Leli Mirijanashvili DESIGNER Temo Machavariani PHOTO EDITOR Mariam Janashia AUTHORS : Tamar Amashukeli/ David Bukhrikidze/ Irina Enchmen/ Levan Gambashidze/ Salome Guruli/ Buba Kudava/ Aka Morchiladze/ Salome Ninua/ Tamar Tavadze GENERAL DIRECTOR David Tvildiani DISTRIBUTION Mikheil Amashukeli ACCOUNT Maya Magradze THE TECHNICAL STAFF Aavtandil Mosulishvili/ Zviad Mosiashvili/ Irma Beridze SPECIAL THANKS TO: Georgian National Museum/ National Centre of Manuscripts / Georgian National Archive/ Georgian State Literature Museum/ Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources of Georgia / Department of Tourizm and Resorts of Georgia / The Agency of Protected Areas /Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia / The Administration Of Lagodekhi Protected Areas/ The Georgian Ambassador to France Mamuka Kudava/ Luarsab Togonidze/ Manana Akhmeteli/ Nino Chogoshvili/ Beso KKhaindrava / Mikheil Abramishvili / Nica Cholokashvili/ Lika Mamacashvili/ Niko Tarielashvili Publisher by: Publishing House ‘MODI’ Tbilisi, 0171, Kostava str. 68, build 3 Phone/Fax: +99532 409398, +99532 409397 E-mai: email@example.com
Copyright by Publishing House ‘MODI’ LTD All rights reserved Printed By: Exclusive Print Ltd. in printing house Favorite Print 0/2 Pushkini Str. Tel: +99532 295533, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE PARADISE OF HIGHLAND
44. THE SAGA OF THE
36. THE HOUSE OF JOY
44 56. THE PALACE Deep In Fir-Trees Tamar Amashukeli
THE GEORGIAN JEWS
JOHN STEINBECK RUSSIAN JOURNAL
CHUBINISHVILI Fashion Now
136. EM-117 Salome Ninidze
TRAIN TO HAPPINESS
Nat ional Costume Women’s Dress
9. Chokha – an outer coat, typical for all Caucasian
Chikhti-kopi – this kind of headband became widely used from the 1830s. First the pad was taller, but from the 1860s, a lower type was more popular. The latter style was first introduced in Kakheti (Eastern Georgia), which is why the headband is also called a ‘Kakhetian chikhti’.
2. Lechaki – a veil made of thin, transparent, often
coat): a long, tight-fitting, buttoned shirt made out of pattered or printed fabric, with a braided high-collar.
Locks were popular until the 1880s and became longer later on.
ornate fabric. The neck line was always cut high.
10. Akhalukhi – worn under the chokha (the outer
patterned fabric. In the dowries the fabric is referred to as muslin, thin cotton, satin, silk lace, thin or thick silk; the thick considered to be the best. The veil is triangular: the right-angled tip falls loosely down the back, the second tip makes a sharp angle, while the third is rounded and shorter than the other two.
4. Dress front – this was an embroidered or highly 5.
nations: tight-fitting above the waist and wide flaps below, trimmed all around with a twisted silk braid, including around the cuffs and decorative pockets, which were high and slanted.
Decorative cartridge pocket – for holding flint rifle or pistol cartridges. The pockets were lined with tubes made of wood or bone.
12. Belt – designed to hold a sword. Dagger – with a bone shaft and silver niello scabbard.
14. Chokha belt – ornate with silver buttons, often with a pouch for flints.
Laces for fastening – the front hems of the dress top were not tapered together: they had hooks on the underside from where gold or silver braided silk cord ran criss-cross. Girdle – worn on the dress: narrow round the waist with long, wide strips hanging down the front. Its color had to match the dress. The girdle was often gold or silver twine, ornate with pearls or beads, very seldom plain.
Sword – the type of horseman’s sword, with a bone shaft, often silver nielloed.
16. Tall boots – tight-fitting, with slight folds.
7. Cuffs – the hem of the sleeve,
either hung downloosely or was tied at the wrist.
8. Shoes – high-heeled and embroidered.
Duke Avavliani with his wife. Tbilisi, 19th cent.
11 14 2
5 6 7 14
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE CITY The Ferris wheel in the Mtatsminda Park is somewhat dwarfed by the TV aerial tower (275 m.), but the modesty of its size is misleading. Absolutely safe and wonderfully comfortable, the observation wheel offers an unforgettable ride in its cabins, which revolve on a 55 m. diameter structure. The somewhat extreme nature of the ride is intensified by the fact that the mountain
ridge with the wheel rises 350 m. above Tbilisi (380 m. and 720 m. above sea level respectively), resulting in a truly stunning view from the cabin at the highest point. Those who suffer from acrophobia or vertigo, however, are not recommended to try the Mtatsminda Park Ferris wheel as it is suited more for people that enjoy intense sensations while getting a bird’s eye view of Tbilisi.
THE TRADITION OF EUROPEANCITIES
SINGING CLOCKS OF TOWN HALLS
The singing clock tradition also exists in Tbilisi. The clock of the Town Hall in Tbilisi plays the tune of Revaz Lagidze’s ‘Tbiliso’, which has long become the anthem of the capital. However, the true lovers of clock music prefer to gather in one of the small streets of Old Tbilisi, where a singing tower was erected in front of the Marionette Theatre. The
creator of the tower is Rezo Gabriadze – the theatre’s founder and well-known writer and director. Quite a variety of materials were used for the tower, including traditional Georgian brick, cobblestones and ceramic tiles, hand-painted by Gabriadze. But describing this work of art does it no justice, as the tower must be seen to be truly appreciated.
CHONGURI Stringed instruments have been widely used in Georgia for centuries. The ‘chonguri’ is a small four-stringed lute, which is still quite popular across the country, especially in Western Georgia. The instruments differ according to the parts of the country they were produced in. The
chonguri has always been considered a feminine instrument because women usually played it as an accompaniment to their solo or duet singing. It was such an important musical instrument in traditional Georgian households that it was often included in a bride’s dowry.
NAPOLEON’S GEORGIAN CONTACTS
Napoleon Bonaparte never visited Georgia. The only opportunity of getting to the Caucasus disappeared in the flames of a burning Moscow during the 1812 campaign, which kept the French Emperor well away from the southern borders of the Russian Empire. It’s difficult to speculate whether he knew about Georgia at all, but it can be stated with certainty that Napoleon had ‘met’ at least two Georgians. One was General Bagration who fought against him at Borodino and died from a fatal wound in that battle. Unaware of his rival’s true ethnic
origin, Napoleon called him the best Russian military commander. The second was Mameluke Rustam, also Georgian by origin, who served as one of the Emperor’s personal guards. In the classic novel Arsena Marabdeli (a story of a Georgian Robin Hood) by Mikheil Javakhishvili there is an episode describing how the outlaws rebelling against the Tsarist regime write a letter to Napoleon, offering him military assistance in his fight against the Russian Emperor. While there is very little more in terms of Napoleon’s contacts with Georgia, it is be-
lieved that Georgia is the location of a certain object that can prove highly instrumental in restoring the appearance of the famous Corsican. As is the case with memorabilia related to great people, Napoleon’s death mask has a history of its own, complete with romantic and criminal elements. It is widely known that a Dr. Antommarchi made the mask within several minutes of the Emperor’s death. Today, there are three copies of the initial mask: one is kept at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the second at Les Invalides in Paris and the third at
the Dadiani Palace of Zugdidi, West Georgia. It is widely held that one of these three is a fake, although the mask in Zugdidi is assuredly authentic because it was brought to Georgia by somebody directly associated to Napoleon. The mask was the heirloom of Ashil Murat, the grandson of Joachim Murat, who was Napoleon’s marshal, brother-in-law and King of Naples and Sicily. Ashil Murat left France in 1873 to settle in Zugdidi, which was the estate of his wife Salome Dadiani, the last Princess of Megrelia. But that’s another story.
AN UNPLANNED MUSEUM
Karl Richter, who opened the London Hotel in Tbilisi in 1875, must have been a serious businessman and innovative hotelier. The newspaper adverts of those days talk about a new hotel in the downtown Tbilisi, which was ‘fully supplied with electricity,’ offering its customers ‘all kinds of comforts’ such as: baths, telephones, a reading room and breathtaking views of the park and the Mtkvari river. Because the star-rating system was not introduced until the 1930s, it is difficult to evaluate the London Hotel in modern terms. Nevertheless, Herr Richter’s business acumen is clearly illustrated by the fact that
the hotel had a garage, though there can’t have been more than half a dozen automobiles in Tbilisi at the time. Apparently, Richter and his daughter Ekaterina (the co-owner) were HR experts as well. One customer left the following episode in his memoirs: “I met the maître d’ and had a conversation with him in French, which turned out to be much better than mine. I asked him what other languages he spoke and he enumerated Georgian, Russian, Armenian, English and German.” Such a high esteem of the able maître d’hôtel is even more flattering when one considers that the author of the travelogue was Knut
Hamsun, the famous Nobel Prize winning Norwegian writer, who visited Tbilisi together with his wife and stayed in the London Hotel. Hamsun’s impressions of Tbilisi became part of his travelogue In Wonderland, which covered his journey to Russia, the Caucasus, Turkey, and other exotic places. After the 1917 Revolution, the hotel was transformed into cheap lodgings, where one could rent rooms by the hour and red lamps were quite common. Later, the building was handed over to the police force and the wine cellars were turned into detention cells. Traces of the inmates can still be found in the numer-
ous inscriptions etched in the walls. Today, 13 Atoneli Street is an ordinary block of flats. Only few know that a seemingly ordinary façade hides an entrance and reception hall to what was one of the most prestigious hotels of its time. Karl Richter definitely was a conscientious businessman as his building has withstood the turmoil of a turbulent history. The building has actually kept his name alive, while the owners of other hotels have been lost forever. It can be said that Herr Richter has unintentionally created his own personal museum, quite inadvertently though.
Beauty Salon Abashidze str. #41 (995 32) 25 10 52 (995 32) 25 10 53
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In one of his poems, the 12th century Persian poet, Khaqaini Sherwani, used the word modi when his lyrical hero was trying to attract the attention of a Christian girl. Centuries ago, foreign visitors used to associate the word modi with Georgians, and the country, as they would often hear Georgians say “modi, modi, modi.” Modi is Georgian for “come” and is the word we use to informally call or invite somebody over, yet the meanings within this word are boundless. “Please come over, come in, have a seat, make yourself comfortable…” It is as if this word reflects why Georgians find it unimaginable to do things on their own and invariably invite others to join in, welcome them into their homes, share their experiences and ideas. More often than not, our discourse starts with modi, indicating that the listener is very much welcome - let’s dance, let’s sing, let’s talk, let’s drink together, let’s go, let’s fight, let’s think, let’s write, let’s live our lives… One conversation might even start with, “Let’s publish Modi!
Ushguly PARADISE IN
EVERY PLACE HAS ITS OWN STORY. USHGULI’S STORY IS SHROUD IN LAYERS OF HISTORY INTERTWINED IS SUCH A WAY THAT IT HAS ALTERED TIME. IT IS A PLACE INHABITED BY PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN FORGED IN A LONG HISTORY OF THE MOMENT, ENTIRELY ON THEIR OWN TERMS.
s soon as you catch your breath and begin to take in the dramatic landscape here on the highest mountain range on the European continent, an overwhelming sensation of timelessness engulfs you. Such is the nature of Ushguli, a numinous land time has forgotten, where the ancient gods of a pagan past embraced early Christianity to create an extraordinary mountain culture inhabited by a people who proudly live in a point in time that cannot be measured in human terms.
FOR CENTURIES SVANETI WAS A PART OF A POLITICAL UNION CREATED ON GEORGIAN TERRITORY: THE KINGDOM OF KOLKHETI, LAZIKA...
Ushguli is a community of four villages: Murkmeli, Chazhashi, Chvibiani and Zhibiani, in the Svaneti region of Georgia and is situated at the
foot of Mt. Shkhara (5068m. /16,627ft.), the highest peak in the country. The altitude of Ushguli is as high as 2 200m. (7,217ft.) and is considered the highest populated point in Europe. There are two versions to the origin of Ushguli. One claims the name comes from Ushishari Guli - the Brave Heart. Historically, Ushguli was a free community where freedom-loving Svans, an ethnic subgroup of Georgia, lived subservient to no one. The Greek geographer and philosopher Strabo made the first written account of the Svans, calling them “a mighty people…foremost in courage and power.” According to the second version, Ushguli means “wrong place,” due to its geographical position, isolation and severe conditions, which the Svans have endured for centuries.
Ushguli under snow. Photo by Nicolas Desagher/Azote
ALWAYS REMOTE Svaneti culture is an integral part of Georgian tradition. Svans speak an unwritten language with four dialects and is different than the other Georgian (Kartvelian) languages especially in vocabulary. Archaeological and linguistic data places the history of Svaneti and Ushguli back several millennia. Although Svaneti had been a dependency of the Georgian kingdoms of Colchis and Lazi over the centuries, it went over to the Persians for a period before joining the Kingdom of Abkhazia to form a unified monarchy, which was incorporated into the Kingdom of Georgia. These alliances it did on its own terms as the land was never plundered by foreign invaders. Although Georgia adopted Christianity in the 4th century, it would be 500 years before the first churches would appear in Svaneti. By the 12th century, however, Christianity flourished significantly in Svaneti under during the rule of Queen Tamara, who was as venerated as a goddess by the Svans. The relationship between the political center and Svaneti fluctuated with the tumultuous history of
SVANETIAN DEMOCRACY Communal lifestyle has been a characteristic of the Georgian highlands since ancient times and in Svanetia, community governance was very democratic. The community would hold a general meeting to elect a Makhvshi - the community leader. Community members of both genders at least twenty years old had the right to attend the meeting. The Makhvshi would be a distinguished individual known for his intelligence, reliability, fairness and honesty. He had to be obedient to religious doctrine and a preacher of Christianity, as well as a judge in peaceful times and a military leader in times of war. In very important cases, a united congress of rural communities would be held where decisions were made by majority vote. The convention discussed relevant domestic and foreign problems, complicated neighborly issues, proposals on preparation for
forthcoming battles and defensive strategies, issues related to the construction of churches, fortifications, roads, bridges and other facilities, and each communityâ€™s contribution to such public activities. The convention also discussed legal matters and imposed punishments accordingly. The convention was the supreme institution in legal hierarchy and was accountable to no one. Its decisions were final and irrevocable. The last convention in Svaneti was called in 1875 when a mass protest was ordered after the Russian Tsarist government raised taxes. Unfortunately, the well-armed Russian soldiers defeated the Svans in the village of Khalde after six days of continual fighting. The Russians razed Khalde, destroying all eleven towers and every structure, both wooden and stone. The Khalde revolt
MAIN STORY the elders would put a pebble on the ground and declare, “let this pebble be a gravestone to whoever tells anybody what’s been said here before the time.” Verdicts were usually reconciliation or reconciliation with material compensation. In the first case, families on both sides of a case would just make up. In the second, they would make up after a certain amount of compensation was paid to the injured party.
was the third and the last armed protest between Georgian mountaineers and Russian Tsarist rule. The Makhvshi controlled the population’s use of pastures, meadows and woods and also regulated issues of land redistribution and surveying. He settled all disputes in the community in the presence of four or five witnesses. Elders were not ordinarily chosen or assigned because of their age. Whomever the community considered a reasonable and wise person was often automatically treated as a Makhvshi. They would go to him for advice and he would eventually be called to take part in councils. Being a Makhvshi, means being respected, little more – elders were not paid for their “service.” The Makhvshi was very rigorous but fair in his judgments. Wrongdoers, thieves and those who disgraced the community were condemned and banished. All doors were shut to the exiled. His family would also be refused to mill their grist in the community mill, t enter the church, and send their livestock out with the community herd. In cases of grave crimes, the Makhvshi would call a convention where a decision would be made on banishing the offender,
burning up his house, or sentencing him to death. The number of elders in such councils depended on the severity of the case. Three or four elders were usually enough to make a match or solve a case of a girl’s abduction, while it took about eight elders to deal with cases of injuries in fights, and not less than twelve for a murder case. Before the trial began, each makhvshi had to pledge on an icon, which entailed standing in front of one or several icons of saints and swearing to use “the most of their knowledge and brain to conduct a case in a proper way.” Such an oath was, and still is, the strongest word in Svaneti – the connection to the spiritual world is heavily respected here. Rarely does anybody dare break it. An oath breaker would forfeit the community’s support and become a social exile. In small societies like those in Svaneti, this was worse than death. Verdicts would be decided in private. Elders gathered where they could not be heard, sometimes in a separate house, or even out in the forest. Nobody was supposed to know a verdict until it was announced to the disputing parties. After a verdict was brought in, one of
But such simplicity was in fact rather fanciful. In Svaneti, where society is clan-based, blood feuds could sometimes start from even a minor argument. Two centuries ago people would often get killed for merely claiming that some piece of land was theirs. Land was scarce then, especially on the steep slopes of the Svaneti Mountains. Intentional or involuntary murder was also a reason to seek blood from an adversary. Uncontrolled blood feuds would sometimes continue until an entire family was eliminated. In such situations, a council of elders was a mechanism used to stop the vendetta. Elders say that usually two or three deaths from either side were enough to end a feud. After that, the elders would hold a council to reconcile the warring parties. Even when an offender was punished by the state and imprisoned, the council of elders would still consider his case because the aggrieved family would seek revenge, even after he served his sentence. Reconciling two families was crucial for Svaneti’s closed societies. In one part of Svaneti, like the villages of Adishi, Ipari, Ushguli and Tsvirmi, material compensation was usually part of the settlement. The price of course depended on the complexity of the case. The council of elders in Svaneti seems to have been very similar to the modern jury trial (especially in murder cases, when the minimal number of elders in a jury is twelve). Before delivering a verdict, they collected the facts, questioned both sides and witnesses. Being under the sacred oath, elders were very concerned about making the right decision.
Photo by Aleksandre Kedelashvili Ushguli under snow. Nicolas Desagher/Azot
Georgia. When the central government was weak, non-existent or under occupation, Svaneti would often find itself tremendously isolated. However, this isolation also helped to preserve Georgiaâ€™s cultural heritage, as many church treasures were kept hidden in Svaneti during times of conquest.
mountainous landscape are unique to the region and are in fact mini fortresshomes, which reflect the traditional nature of a people who were always ready to defend their freedom. Built of stone and mortar with schist roofs during the 9th-12th centuries, these towerhomes are still preserved today, many of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Upper Svaneti. The family and cattle inhabited the ground floor, while the second floor was used for winter storage and the third floor was for defense purposes.
ONE SUCH LEGEND IS ABOUT THE DEVI, OR THE FOREST MAN, WHO BECAME THE ENEMY OF USHGULIâ€™S VIRGIN AND DECIDED TO DROWN HER.
In terms of remoteness, Ushguli is even isolated from the rest of Svaneti and served as a kind of border bastion marked by a great number of fortresses. The remarkable skyscraping towers that organically merge with the
Seven small churches are preserved in the community of Ushguli. The Church of Lamaria (10th century) is surrounded by a towered fence and crowns the highest Ushguli village of Zhibiani. Lamaria is the name Svans gave to The Virgin and this church is their most revered, covered in frescoes dating back to the 10th to 12th centuries. ‘Lamarioba,’ the local Assumption Day, is marked by a festive celebration at this church every year on August 28.
LAND OF LEGENDS
Part of Svaneti’s remarkable charm is attributed to the uncanny mixture of the Christian faith with elements of the local, pre-Christian pagan beliefs and is evident in the many legends and traditions that are kept alive today.
One such legend is about the Devi, or the forest man, who became the enemy of Ushguli’s Virgin and decided to drown her. He built a dam near Kala, west of Ushguli, in the narrow rocky ravine of the Enguri Gorge, which is now known as ‘Devi’s Nasheni’ (meaning ‘built by Devi’). The Devi wanted to collect the Enguri water in order to submerge the Church of the Virgin. Lamaria sought the help of St. Kvirike of Kala and together they released a gold-horned flock to destroy the wall and thus saved Ushguli’s Church of The Virgin. Outside the Lamaria Church is a large stone bench where locals claim Prince Buta Dadeshkeliani was assassinated. At that time Upper Svaneti was divided into the free, unconquered upper region
Photos by Temo bardzimashvili Abandoned home, Adishi 2010 Traditional Svan â€˜Machubiâ€™, Adishi 2010 A church in Adishi, 2010 Svan
called Bali, and the lower region was subject to the Dadeshkelianis. The people of Ushguli did not want one person to be responsible for Buta’s assassination so they collected gunpowder grains from everyone and made one bullet. They then fixed a long rope to the trigger of a rifle, which everybody in the village pulled, thus collectively firing the murder weapon.
The village of Chazhashi is situated at the junction of the Enguri and its tributary Shavtskala. Chazhashi is remarkable for its numerous towers and old dwellings, revealing a unique integration of nature and architecture. Because of this distinctive synthesis of nature, architecture and construction, the Chazhashi complex was made into museum-preserve and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
OUTSIDE THE LAMARIA CHURCH IS A LARGE STONE BENCH WHERE LOCALS CLAIM PRINCE BUTA DADESHKELIANI WAS ASSASSINATED
Below the Church of Lamaria, at the edge of the village Zhibiani, there is a small chapel called ‘Jgragi,’ built in honor of St. George. In Svaneti, St. George appropriated a pagan deity’s role as protector of hunters. When locals went hunting, they asked St. George to protect and help them. Afterwards, they would offer the game’s heart, liver, as well as male aurochs and chamois heads and horns to the church.
The Savior’s Church is in the center of Chazhashi and is built of schist and plastered with a painted façade, which is rarely encountered in other Georgian regions. On the southern façade of the church, is a painted secular scene from the 17th century depicting the heroic epic, ‘Amiran- Darejaniani.’ Having epic and heroic scenes depicted on Christian churches is a custom particular to Svaneti, especially Ushguli.
National Georgian Dance www.LocationStock. com Lamaria Church Traditional Svan ‘Machubi’, Adishi 2010
SVAN TOWERS Svan Towers are the symbol of Svanetia. Nowhere else in the world is there an architectural equivalent to these exceptional defensive structures that date back to the early Middle Ages. Historically, each house had a tower as protection against enemies and natural disasters. Besides serving as a refuge in cases of war, the towers were also used as sentry posts to warn the rest of the community of encroaching danger by lighting a fire on top of the tower. The signal would then be passed from tower to tower until the entire valley was lit and instantly ready to fight. All Svan towers look absolutely identical - a square (5 Ń… 5m) tapered stone structure 25 m tall. Each tower has four or five levels with windows at the crown. The massive diameter of the tower base made it sturdy enough to withstand earthquakes. Most Svan towers (several dozens) can be found in Mestia and Ushguli. The youngest one is at least two hundred years old.
The residential house of a Svan (Machubi) is a big two-storied building. The family lived on the ground floor with their livestock and hay and provisions were stored on the second floor. The house was heated by a hearth in the centre of a large room and was where the family cooked their food. As a rule, a tower was attached to the house. Sometimes a Svan family consisted of up to thirty or even a hundred members. We can still find such huge residential compounds in the Mulakhi
community. For example, a three meter fence surrounds the home of the Kaldani clan. There are two towers (one still in a good condition), a small church with distinctive crosses, icons and sanctuaries. Judging by the ruins there were probably three houses; a three-story and a pair of two-story homes. There was also a threshingfloor, dungeon and secret tunnels connecting the residential area to the outside world. Similar homes can be found in the town of Mestia and the village of Latali.
SVANETI MOUNTAINS Surrounded by 3,000â€“5,000 meter peaks, Svaneti is the highest inhabited area in the Caucasus. 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. Prominent peaks include Tetnuldi (4,974m./16,319ft.), Shota Rustaveli (4,960m./16,273ft.), Mt. Ushba (4,710m./15,453ft.), Ailama (4,525m./14,842ft.), as well as Lalveri, Latsga and others.
uSguli ARTISTIC LEGACY All seven churches of Ushguli were decorated with a great number of frescoes, painted icons and crosses. Over the centuries various artifacts and treasures from different parts of Georgia and other countries were donated to them. These treasures are now kept in the Museum of Ushguli, under the direction of Svaneti’s Museum of History and Ethnography and the National Museum of Georgia located in Chazhashi’s tower-house. Svan polyphonic songs and dances are renown for their distinct style and instrumentation reflecting the bold and fierce nature of the Svans. The Chunuri is a spiked bowed lute with horsehair strings and is considered the national instrument of Svaneti, which is believed to have spread in the other regions of Georgia from there. Few places in the world can compare to the majesty that is Ushguli, so rich in astounding beauty and ancient mountain culture. It seems a kind of paradox that in a place where time seems to have stopped, not a single day looks like the next. One can rarely find any place where fundamental attitudes, such as God-Nature-Man are so powerfully expressed as they are in this enchanting part of Georgia. Ushguli – as enchanting as it is mysterious
Fresco in “Chajashi” church, 19 th cent.
yoveli adgili ganumeorebelia da Taviseburebad gviambobs Tavis Tavgadasavalsa Tu istorias. es gansakuTrebiT uSgulSi igrZnoba, sadac erTdroulad Tanaarsebobs Soreuli warsulis warmarTuli, Tu qristianuli kulturis mravali Sre. aq istoria ara marto warsulia; aq cxovrobs xalxi, romelic dros ar emorCileba, anu arsebobs ganzomilebaSi, romelsac Tavisufleba hqvia. uSgulis etimologias, erTi versiiT, `uSiSar guls~ ukavSireben. istoriulad, uSguli Tavisufali svaneTis ubatono Temi iyo, sadac Tavisuflebis moyvare svanebi cxovrobdnen. svanebs ixsenieben straboni da pliniusi, rogorc yvelaze Zlier da mebrZol toms `dioskuriis maxlobel mTianeTSi mcxovreb tomTagan~. meore versiiT, `uSguli~ ukuRmarT adgils niSnavs – Tavisi geografiuli mdebareobis, mowyvetilobis da mkacri pirobebis gamo, rasac svanebi saukuneebis ganmavlobaSi ar nebdebodnen. uSguli Tavisi auTenturi bunebiT, arqiteqturuli kompleqsebiT, iq daculi unikaluri xelovnebis nimuSebiT da zRapar-miTebiT qmnis saocar samyaros, romelsac bunebriobis da arqaulobis aromati dahkravs. erTgvari paradoqsia – samyaroSi, sadac dro TiTqos gaCerebulia, arc erTi dRe erTmaneTs ar hgavs. iSviaTad naxav adgils, sadac ase Zlierad aris gamoxatuli fundamenturi, arsobrivi mimarTebebi: RmerTi-buneba-adamiani, rogorc es saqarTvelos am marTlac unikalur kuTxeSia mocemuli.
JUST SO STORIES
Aka Morchiladze Medieval Tbilisi was truly a specific kind of magnificence. There were of course many other cities in the Near East; larger, wealthier and more famous, in a political and eternal sense. While these were cities on a grand scale, Tbilisi had a particular individuality and unbeatable character not found anywhere else. It was known as ‘The House of Joy,’ a moniker that didn’t originate from the local imagination, but was how the foreigners used to refer to Tbilisi. Politically more chaotic than organized, seemingly accustomed to frequent changes of garrisons and razed to the ground several times, Tbilisi still retained a faithfulness to itself, enjoying both its political and mighty trade function. Throughout its
long history, the city’s importance fluctuated quite frequently. It had seen and lived through everything a Medieval city could experience. At one point it was an independent city-state, while at another it was the capital of a powerful country and yet at another time it was a defeated military stronghold. And all the while, there was something invariable about the city, a never-changing element which ensured its lasting history. The word ‘tbili’ means ‘warm’ in Georgian, somehow indicating that the place where the city was built had to be warm, but not necessarily in the sense of its climate. The legend of how the city was founded sounds less myth-like than it does plausible. One day King
”Maidani” (Old Town), sketch by G. Gagarin, 19th cent. Svaneti MountainsPhoto from “Tbilisi in the Works of Georgian and Foreign Artists” ”Makise” (masseuse), Photos by Aleksandre Roinashvili, 19th cent ” Abano” (bath house) Photo by Mariam Janashia
Panorama of Tbilisi, Photo by Goga Demetrashvili Balcony in Old Tbilsi Photo by Mariam Janashia Cupola Photo by Mikheil Samkharadze Tbilisi, Photo by Temo Bardzimashvili
JUST SO STORIES Vakhtang Gorgasali, one of the greatest figures of Georgian history, was hunting in a dense forest on the banks of the Mtkvari river. He set his falcon onto a wounded pheasant, but the trained bird of prey failed to return – the King found both the retriever and prey in a warm spring. As legend has it, it was the warm spring that drew the King’s attention. Vakhtang Gorgasali was noted for building cities, so naturally he wouldn’t have ignored such an interesting place. The spring spurted warm sulphur water, but little was known of its chemical nature at that time – warm water with curative properties was a miracle in itself. The King ordered the forest cut down and selected a suitable place to build a fort. He didn’t live to see it completed, but his son and heir, Dachi Ujarmeli, saw the building through and moved the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi in the 5th century A.D. Needless to say, it wasn’t only the warm spring that inspired the kings. Both Vakhtang and Dachi appreciated the advantageous strategic potential of the place, as others would too. The following centuries would see Tbilisi an Arab emirate, the capital of Georgia again, the centre of a Persian province, home of a Turkish garrison, the capital of Georgia once again, the main Caucasian city of the Russian Empire and back into the Georgian capital. Baths were built exactly where King Vakhtang discovered the warm spring and they would identify the heart of the city throughout the centuries where they remain today. Not particularly noteworthy at first sight, these sulfur baths have become one of the major symbols of Tbilisi’s longevity. The baths weren’t simply warm or just known for their curative and inexplicable properties. They served as an attraction for visitors of the city, not just for washing the dust off. Built along Persian traditions, the baths of Tbilisi became a world in their own right; an entirely complex industry, complete with its own traditions and magic charm. Unlike their Persian analogues, the water in Tbilisi baths didn’t need to be heated. Moreover, they were marked with a local distinction: an unhurried, leisurely attitude mixed with cheerfulness, so typical of Tbilisi. For foreign visitors the baths are a small, unexpected miracle they can discover under the hilly city streets. Russian poet Alexander Pushkin said he had never seen anything so luxurious in his life, while it took French writer Alexandre Dumas some time to come to his senses after the surprise of discovering them.
Bronze buckle with a rider from a warrior’s grave at the Treli cemetery (13th c. BC). Bull-shaped wine vessel from the “Royal Grave” at the Treli cemetery (8th -7th c. BC).
Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi has a history of continuous habitation that goes back more than 6,000 years. Today over 250 archeological sites exist in and around Tbilisi, which can be explained by the unique location of the city and its environs. Since ancient times, Tbilisi has been the center of trade routes that criss-crossed east to west and north to south, connecting Asia to Europe. Vakhtang I “Gorgasali” (439 or 443 — 502) of the Chosroid dynasty, the king of Iberia, natively known as Kartli (eastern Georgia), ascended the throne at the age of fifteen. At that time Kartli was continually being invaded by the Persians from the south and Ossetians from the north. The situation was no better in western Georgia where the Byzantines had captured all the lands from Egrisi to Tsikhegoji. King Vakhtang led a victorious campaign against the Ossetians, freed the captive princess (his older sister), and signed several treaties with Caucasian mountain tribes to secure their cooperation in the struggle against foreign conquerors. He liberated western Georgia from the Byzantines, reinforced the authority of King Gubaz, and returned in triumph to Kartli. It was said King Vakhtang was tireless in battle. Legend has it that while vested in armor and fully armed, he could carry a war-horse on his shoulders and climb from Mtskheta to the Armazi Fortress in the mountains outside the city. On the crown of Vakhtang’s military helmet a wolf was depicted on the front and a lion on the back. Upon catching a glimpse of the helmet, the Persians would cry out ,“Dar’ az gurgsar!” (“Beware of the wolf ‘s head!”). This was the source of the king’s appellation “Gorgasali.” King Vakhtang built fortresses in Tukhari, Artanuji, and Akhiza, founded monasteries in Klarjeti at Artanuji, Mere, Shindobi, and Akhiza, and established many other strongholds, churches, and monasteries too. In the year 502, the sixty-yearold king was obliged to defend his country for the last time. In a battle with the Persians he was fatally wounded when a poisoned arrow pierced him under the arm. All of Georgia mourned King Vakhtang’s death. His body was moved from the royal residence in Ujarma to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, which he had built, and was buried with great honor.
JUST SO STORIES
saxli sixarulisa es didi fufuneba iyo, Sua saukuneebSi rom TbilisSi moxvidodi. `saxli sixarulisa~: es iyo Tbilisis metsaxeli im Zvel dros da es metsaxeli Tbilisuri gonebis nayofi ar iyo, mas ufro ucxoelebi moixmardnen xolme. politikurad ufro areuli, vidre dalagebuli, garnizonTa xSir cvlilebas TiTqos miCveuli, ramdenjerme pirwmindad gadamwvari mtrebis mier, Tbilisi mainc rCeboda mudmiv samyarod, romelsac politikuris garda, Zlieri savaWro funqciebic hqonda. es qalaqi xSirad icvlida mniSvnelobas Tavisi xangrZlivi istoriis manZilze da yvelaferi gamovlili hqonda, yvelaferi, rac SeiZleba gamoiaros Sua saukuneebis qalaqma, romelic damoukidebeli saxelmwifo erTeulic yofila, Zlevamosili qveynis dedaqalaqic da damcrobili samxedro fortic. magram, arsebobda raRac mudmivoba, rac arasdros Secvlila da ris garSemoc Seiqmna Tbilisi. sityva warm qarTulad Tbils niSnavs, rac TiTqos imas unda gulisxmobdes, rom adgili, sadac es qalaqi aSenda, Tbili iyo. The city is unimaginable without the baths. There were times when they determined the rhythm, routine, celebrations and lifestyle of Tbilisi. Hundreds of stories - fact and fiction - circulated in the Orient about the mysterious powers of the baths; mostly all tall tales. Agha Mohammad Khan, the shah of Persia, even believed the mystic waters could cure his impotency and immediately after taking Tbilisi, he headed for the baths. But when these waters failed him, he razed the entire city. No matter how frequently Tbilisi was set on fire by invaders, nothing ever happened to the baths since water doesnâ€™t burn. It is as if the eternalness of the city lies in the perpetuation of this mysterious water that seemed to attract everyone as soon as they heard about it. Perhaps the true power of this water is that whoever takes a plunge, whether friend or foe, will never be able to forget Tbilisi
Tbilisi Photo by Ivane Goliadze
Tbilisis daarsebis legenda albaT sulac ar aris legenda, aramed namdvili ambavi. mdinare mtkvris xeobaSi, gauval tyeebSi nadirobda, saqarTvelos istoriis udidesi personaJi, mefe vaxtang gorgasali. man dageSili qori daadevna daWril xoxobs, romelmac nanadirevi ukan ver moutana: mefem xoxobica da qoric Tbili wylis nakadulSi ipova. rogorc amboben, swored es nakaduli Seiqmna mizezi imisa, rom mefe am adgiliT dainteresda, tyis gakafva da cixis asaSeneblad adgilis SerCeva brZana. Tbilisis cixis dasrulebas is veRar moeswro, magram misma vaJma, rati ujarmelma ki moaTava mSenebloba da Tavisi dedaqalaqi mcxeTidan TbilisSi gadmoitana.
THE SAGA OF THE BALANCHIVADZES
LA VITA COME ARTE
THE SAGA OF THE
BALANCHIVADZE David Bukhrikidze
George Balanchine From archives of Tbilisi Z. Palishvili Opera and Ballet State Theater.
ne Georgian writer says that great men are lost without a monument; we’d like to add that so are the great people of art and Nicko Pirosmani could represent a good example of that. Nevertheless, in a century of total information, personal code and a vast number of web-sites, the number of those “lost without a monument” is significantly reduced. The existence of the ‘white spots’ in the past was determined by the fact that the epoch, pressed by the no information era, destined an artist for oblivion. But only for a while...
Among the three children of the composer Meliton Balanchivadze –Tamar, Giorgi and Andria, Giorgi or George Balanchivadze is the most remarkable. The famous choreographer moved to Europe from St Petersburg school of Choreography together with Diagilev’s troupe in the
In the twentieth century the family of Balanchiveadzes, blessed with artistic talent are a clear example of interchanging success, oblivion and glory. In the second half of the nineteenth century, Anton Balanchivadze, born in the village Banoja, the parson of the Church of Peter and Paul, could never have imagined that he would have started the great family, which gave a number of talented artists to his motherland and made his name famous.
Meliton’s younger son Andria is one of the most talented performers of contemporary Georgian music: He was the composer of the first Georgian ballet “The Heart of the Mountains”, which was staged in the 1930s. He taught a whole generation of Georgian composers and his works were very successful all across the Soviet Union.
Both of Anton’s sons, Meliton and Vaso, earned a noble place in the history of art: Meliton Balanchivadze is the founder of Georgian professional music together with Zakharia Paliashvili and Dimitri Arakishvili while Vasili was a remarkable representative of the Georgian theatrical culture. Both of the brothers were awarded the title of ‘Georgia’s Peoples’ Artist’ in Stalin’s time, though they were never proud of this fact, neither were they friendly with the party elite.
1920s. Later, he went to the USA, where he carried out his experiments in ballet. They were eventually qualified as masterpieces, therefore he is justly considered the founder of American choreography. He was the greatest reformer of the twentieth century Neoclassical Ballet.
The elder sister of Giorgi and Andria, Tamar Balanchivadze was undoubtedly artistically gifted and was a talented and original painter. Sadly, she unexpectedly passed away during the Second World War. Andria Balanchivadze’s children were also people of art: a dancer in the Tbilisi Opera and Ballet soloist Tsiskar Balanchivadze and the talented musician Jarji Balanchivadze. We shall now regale the saga of the Balanchivadzes in more detail.
LA VITA COME ARTE
Meliton Balanchivadze Meliton Balanchivadze, the founder of Georgian opera, composer and public figure became known to Georgian music lovers as early as the nineteenth century, when the young baritone successfully performed several arias on the stage of the Tbilisi Opera Theatre. Later he formed an ethnographic choir and toured in different towns of Georgia. In the 1890s, he moved to St Petersburg, where he took classes in vocal art. Thereafter, he took up composition classes from the great Russian composer Nikolay Rimski-Korsakov. At the same time he formed a choir of esteemed musicians and arranged concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, propagating Georgian folk music. The Georgian composer’s family was poor and the
Meliton Balanchivadze From family archive
rector of the conservatoire and the famous composer Anton Rubinstein presented him with a grand piano, which Meliton brought to Georgia when he returned to his motherland. In 1912 in Russia, the fragments from his first opera “The Cunning Tamar” were performed. In spite of his intense concert activity, he still longed to return to his motherland. After the revolution he returned to Georgia and started actively working. In 1926, the premiere of his opera “The Cunning Tamar” was performed in Tbilisi for the first time. It marked a great event in the history of Georgian music. In summary, besides his wonderful musical and pedagogical work, he left behind a marvelous heritage for Georgian arts.
LA VITA COME ARTE
Andria Balanchivadze Andria Balanchivadze was born in St Petersburg. It was clear that his father and the musical circle influenced his childhood as his talent in musical composition came to the fore at an early age. His path was chosen from the very beginning. In the 1930s he wrote music for the first Georgian ballet “The Heart of the Mountains”, which was a significant event: the choreographer was Vakhtang Chabukiani, the painter- Soliko Virsaladze, and the conductor Evgeni Mikeladze. He composed a lot of music pieces for films, worked in the theater and was the favorite composer of Kote Marjanishvili.
Andria Balanchivadze From family archive
Many famous people used to gather in Andria Balanchvadze’s house. At that time, probably all the famous people of the art world witnessed the unusual duet of the famous Georgian poet Galaktion Tabidze and Andria Balanchvadze: with great dramatic inspiration Galaktion recited “Mary”, accompanied by Massenet’s “Elegy”. This dynamic performance went round the whole of Georgia and was a great success. Andria used to say that Galaktion’s vibrant voice always put him in the right mood. Andrea’s wife Pinna was a no less interesting person, who did much to develop their children’s talent, especially Jarji’s.
LA VITA COME ARTE
Giorgi (George) Balanchivadze In 1918, Meliton Balanchvadze and his family were summoned to Georgia, as he was supposed to restore a music school in Kutaisi. At first, the family stayed in St Petersburg, though due to neediness they all had to leave except their elder son Giorgi, 13 at that time, who studied in the ballet school of St Petersburg. If Giorgi had been made to return to Georgia he would have had to give up studying. Therefore, being fanatically in love with ballet, George preferred to stay. This choice proved to be painful, as Andria and George parted in the spring of 1918 and only 44 years later were they able to meet again. “It took us almost a month and a half to come here. Then we sneaked up on board the ship in Sebastopol and could hardly reach Poti and then Tbilisi from there.” – writes Andria Balanchivadze in his memoirs. While Meliton’s family was busy with music and other things in Kutaisi, the political situation in St Petersburg became very complicated. In 1923, Giorgi went on a tour of Europe together with the ballet company. He fell ill with tuberculoses and had to leave for Switzerland to receive treatment. He was unable to return to Russia on time and soon he received a letter, informing him about the civil war. So he decided to stay in France.
George Balanchine From archives of Tbilisi Z. Palishvili Opera and Ballet State Theater.
At first he found it hard to get used to his life in emigration. Two years later, an American producer saw him on stage and invited him to New York. From this period on, Giorgi Balanchivadze’s, or rather, George Balanchine’s road to glory started. (Diagilev, a clever and well-educated man in matters of art, advised him to take up this name, as it was shorter and sounded more European). Initially, he worked in small theaters and earned a modest pay. After gaining good experience he realized that it was necessary to find wealthy producers and sponsors to fulfill his ambitions. One of his acquaintances presented him to Rockefeller, who allotted a big sum to him and thereafter he enjoyed wonderful working conditions. In the 1930-40s, George founded his own Ballet studio, where he created his famous abstract choreographic opuses. George Balanchine’s fame and glory are connected with the merging of choreographic polyphony and generalized concept with the geometric forms, very unusual at that time. It might have been an in-depth response to Georgian polyphonic music and folk dance forms. This is a widely held theory, critics and experts share this idea, all those ones, who have seen Balanchine’s Ballet and Georgian folk dances.
LA VITA COME ARTE
A Long Time Later In May of 1962, Andria and Giorgi Balanchivadzes met in Moscow Airport 44 years since their previous meeting. It could have served as an example of abolishing the ideological barrier, as Khrushchov’s “Ottepel” (“Melting”) was gaining strength. Balanchine’s career as a dancer failed due to physical problems with his leg but he became a great choreographer. As for Andria, he was already a widely revered composer. Everybody realized that it was a very special meeting after a long time apart, in the alienated space, in Moscow airport. This meeting could have become the main subject of any epic novel, best-seller or Hollywood film, though in the Soviet Union it was still forbidden due to Balanchine’s work and his fame. This meeting has been preserved only on the shabby pages of American and European magazines. It is a pity that in Georgia not a single writer had the desire to describe the saga of the Balanchivadzes in the dramatic context of our country’s recent history. In his public interviews Balanchine spoke about his ballet and those innumerable women, who often left him in a strange manner: “I am madly in love with women, but they were constantly jealous and left me for this reason. Nevertheless I always tried to make their lives beautiful. The women used to become much more beautiful in my hands!” He arrived in Georgia for the second time 10 years later. He visited his native Kutaisi and his father’s grave. Delighted by Georgian dance and music, he decided to stage a ballet based on his brother’s music, but the choreographer’s great dream did not come true. George Balanchin died in New York in 1983. According to his will all his property was given to the ballerinas of his own company. As for the ballet company, it bears George Balanchine’s name. Balanchine was truly international - A Georgian by birth, a native of St Petersburg in education and an American in his work and life
Photo by Lado Vachnadze
meliton balanCivaZem da misma STamomavlebma meoce saukunis saxelovnebo cxovrebaze didi gavlena iqonies. meliton balanCivaZe qarTuli profesiuli musikis fuZemdebelia zaqaria faliaSvilTan da dimitri arayiSvilTan erTad. igi avtoria pirveli qarTuli operisa ,,darejan cbieri~. manve Seqmna sami qarTuli romansi, romlebic qarTul musikis istoriaSi romansis Janris pirveli da klasikad aRiarebuli nawarmoebebia. misi umcrosi vaJi – andria, cnobili qarTveli kompozitori da qarTuli baletis fuZemdebelia. mis mieraa Seqmnili - `mTebis guli~, pirveli qarTuli baleti, rac im drois, namdvil movlenad iqca. andria balanCivaZe bevrs muSaobda kinosa Tu TeatrSi da gamoCenili qarTveli reJisoris, kote marjaniSvilis, sayvareli kompozitori iyo. jorj balanCini amerikis SeerTebul StatebSi moRvaweobda. man ara mxolod amerikuli, aramed mTlianad msoflio baleti Secvala. misi saxeli da dideba qoreografiuli polifoniisa da ganzogadebuli koncefciis, im droisaTvis uCveulo, geometriul formebTan Serwymas ukavSirdeba. SesaZloa, es qarTuli polifoniuri musikisa da xalxuri cekvebis formis siRrmiseuli gamoZaxilia. da es ar aris kerZo mosazreba, amas adastureben kritikosebi da specialistebi, yvela, visac unaxavs balanCinis baleti da qarTuli xalxuri cekva.
HOUSE OF THE PAST
he earliest evidence of how Borjomi’s spring waters were first exploited is the stone baths archeologists discovered, which date back to the first century. Oddly enough, many centuries would pass before this water and its healing properties would again be utilized.
Ekaterinsk fountain of Borjomi mineral water. Photo by Sergei Mikhailovich ProkudinGorsky ( Library of Congress Collection) , 1905 – 1915
home in Likani, 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) from Borjomi. Under his orders, a two-story wooden house was built deep in a forest of evergreens, on the banks of the Mtkvari river. Soon afterwards, this stunning region became a prestigious summer resort when summer homes for Georgian and Russian aristocrats began sprouting up in Borjomi and the surrounding area.
THE PALACE OF LIKANI IS STILL ONE OF THE MOST NOTABLE PLACES IN THE GORGE OF BORJOMI. IT IS MOSTLY CONNECTED WITH THE NAME OF MIKHAIL ROMANOFF’S SON, NIKOLAY.
During the Russian-Turkish war in the 19th century, Russian soldiers rediscovered the spring waters and ended up changing the face of one of Georgia’s most beautiful regions. Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich Romanov became interested in the curing properties of the water and built his country
The Likani Palace has become one of the most popular destinations in Borjomi, thanks to Mikhail Romanov’s son, Nikolai, who was fond of hunting and spent much of his time there. He turned the wooden house into a European style palace surrounded by a 42 hectare (103 acres) park. The renown Russian architect, Leon Nikolaevich Benois, was commis-
HOUSE OF THE PAST
sioned to direct the construction which was designed by Leopold Bilfeldt. Today, some of the palace’s original paintings and furnishings can still be seen, including a table from Peter I, which was made out of walnut tree roots - and not a single nail was used. There is also a Russian stove in the billiards room decorated with handpainted Italian ceramic tiles depicting the wildlife of the Borjomi valley. Romanov’s study is oriental-style, decorated with a fine mosaic. Stalin also used this room. The two nails he hammered into the wall to hang his cap and tunic are still there. Upstairs is the butterfly room where
Romanov invited collectors who would catch butterflies in his park. These butterflies were so remarkable that a painter suggested painting the room in a butterfly motif. An S-shaped armchair of that period, known as an “armchair for quarreling lovers,” is also found in this room. They say the real reason Nikolai Romanov spent so much time in Likani was not to hunt but was because he had fallen in love with Varvara, a Ukrainian woman who was the Likani Palace supervisor. They used the flag on the palace roof as a signal. Hoisted, it indicated that Varvara was expected in the palace where the two lovers would spend long winter evenings by the fireplace. Nikolai was very fond of romantic
Ekaterinsk fountain of Borjomi mineral water. Photo by Sergei Mikhailovich ProkudinGorsky ( Library of Congress Collection), 1905 – 1915 The Palace of Likani photos courtesy of Georgian Glass and Mineral Water Company
HOUSE OF THE PAST
naZvebSi CaZiruli sasaxle am midamoebSi wyali jer kidev I saukuneSi aRmouCeniaT. amaze borjomis SemogarenSi arqeologebis mier aRmoCenili qvis abazanebi metyvelebs, Tumca, maSin wyals ara sasmelad, aramed abazanis misaRebad iyenebdnen. mas Semdeg, bevr wyals Cauvlia da abazanebica da wyalic, ratomRac, daviwyebas miscemia... unikaluri samkurnalo Tvisebebis mqone wyali xelmeored XIX saukuneSi rusul-Turqul kampaniaSi CarTul, rus jariskacebs aRmouCeniaT, ramac mTlianad Secvala saqarTvelos am ulamazesi kuTxis ganviTareba.
songs, which Varvara performed wonderfully. Their romance was cut short by the tumultuous events in the north. On January 1, 1917, Nikolai Mikhailovich was ordered back to Russia. After the October Revolution, he was arrested and on January 24, 1919, the Duke and three other members of the Romanov dynasty were executed in retaliation for the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. The palace was appropriated as a governmental residence when Georgia became a Soviet Republic. Varvara remained in Likani and worked as the palace supervisor until her death in 1955. Today the Likani Palace, deep in a forest of century-old trees, continues to captivate visitors to the Borjomi valley and functions as the summer residence of the President of Georgia
Grand Duke Nikolay Mikhailovich Romanov
wylis samkurnalo TvisebebiT kavkasiaSi ruseTis mefisnacvali, didi mTavari mixeil nikolozis Ze romanovic dainteresda. Tumca, man saagarake adgilad ara daba borjomi, aramed mis maxloblad, sul raRac 20 km-Si mdebare, marTlac rom zRapruli adgili - likani airCia. misi brZanebiT mtkvris napirze, wiwvovani xeebiT daburul landSaftSi, xis orsarTuliani saagarako saxli aaSenes. likanis sasaxle, romelic dResac borjomis xeobis erT-erTi RirSesaniSnaobaa, metwilad, mixeil romanovis Svilis, nikolozis saxelTan aris dakavSirebuli. swored misi gadawyvetilebiT, mamis droindeli xis sazafxulo rezidencia evropuli stilis sasaxliT Seicvala. mtkvris piras, bunebrivi da unikaluri dekoratiuli jiSebis sinTeziT Seqmnil ulamazes baRSi CaZiruli sasaxle, SesaniSnavi arqiteqturuli Zeglia.
Ilia Chavchavadze Levan Gambashidze Ilia Chavchavadze Photo by Aleksandre Roinashvili
very city in Georgia has a street that bears his name. Statues of him are scattered all across the country. One of Georgiaâ€™s main universites is named after him. His image is as much of a state symbol as the St. George flag and he is so revered as Father of the Fatherland that he was even canonized as Saint Ilia the Righteous by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 1987. This man, regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern Georgia was neither king, prophet nor politician but was the writer, poet, journalist and lawyer, Ilia Chavchavadze.
Born in 1837 in Kvareli, in the eastern province of Kakheti, Ilia was born a prince to a noble line that went back to 1726, when King Constantine II granted the family the rank in recognition of valor to the nation. Iliaâ€™s great grandfather was knighted after he defeated an army of 20,000 Persians in Kvareli in 1755. This was a time when Georgia was continually under siege by southern invaders, so in an attempt to bring stability to region, Georgia and Russia signed the Treaty of Georgievsk on July 24, 1783, which made Georgia a protectorate of Russia. This, however, had unexpected repercussions of its own.
Inspired by the growing popularity of liberal thought throughout Europe in the late 19th century, Ilia Chavchavadze used his talents and influence to initiate an awakening of the Georgian national consciousness, an endeavor that likely cost him his life.
First, Russia failed to live up to its commitment to protect Georgia and refused to come to its aid during the Russo-Turkish War in 1787. Tbilisi was destroyed and the population massacred. Then, by the first half of the 19th century, Georgia had lost its sovereignty and was an administrative prov-
Ilia Chavchavadze playing chess with Vasil Machabeli, St. Petersburg, 1873
ince of the Russian Empire. Not only had Georgia lost its political independence, but the Georgian Orthodox Church also lost its autocephaly. Georgian language was banned from secondary schools and Russian became the language of instruction. Moreover, the word ‘Georgia’ was forbidden as the notion itself practically didn’t exist. Instead, there were the provinces of Tbilisi and Kutaisi while all major decisions were made in the Russian capital. With the memories of independence still fresh, several uprisings took place in various parts of Georgia, but were brutally put down. Within time, the Georgian nobility reconciled to their fate and extended their loyalty to the Czar by serving in the army and accepting various positions in the vast Empire.
After finishing the Classic School in Tbilisi, Ilia Chachavadze studied Law at Petersburg University and returned to Georgia in 1861 and joined the ranks of this dynamic generation. By the time Ilia returned to Georgia, he was already a mature poet and writer. However, his earlier poems and stories hold a particular place in the hearts of Georgian readers, as his aspiration and covert desire to see the awakening of his nation’s pride were already traceable. In his student years he was a prolific translator as well, translating Schiller, Heine, Byron, Pushkin and many other poets. Later, together with Ivane Machabeli, another Tergdaleuli, he translated Shakespeare’s King Lear, which was published in 1877.
THE MOST AFFORDABLE UNIVERSITY FOR YOUNG GEORGIANS WAS IN ST. PETERSBURG. BECAUSE THESE STUDENTS HAD TO CROSS THE TERGI RIVER, ON GEORGIANRUSSIAN BORDER, THEY WERE CALLED TERGDALEULI (WHICH LITERALLY MEANS: ‘HAVING DRUNK FROM THE RIVER TERGI’). ILIA CHAVCHAVADZE BELONGED TO THIS GENERATION
By the end of the 19th century, however, a new, radically-minded generation emerged that had been educated abroad and were driven by the desire to introduce social changes. At the time, the most affordable university for young Georgians was in St. Petersburg. Because these students had to cross the Tergi river on the Georgian-Russian border, they were called Tergdaleuli (literally: ‘having drunk from the river Tergi’). Ilia Chavchavadze belonged to this generation.
Petersburg education was European in its essence. Ilia was exposed to contemporary ideas on liberty, equality and independence, which he eventually attempted to introduce in Georgia. In one of his most well-known epic poems, The Ghost, he mentions ‘brotherhood, unity, freedom,’ which recalls the motto of the French Revolution and is evidence that Ilia believed in European values. But to introduce a new political system and change the national mindset, his generation resolved to discard the example of the
Russian Empire and followed the European model instead. By adopting European fashion instead of traditional dress, the Tergdaleuli made it very clear they represented change, a view not everybody in Georgia was ready to embrace. Ilia often butted heads with the older and younger generations, opposing their complacency. The Tergdaleuli generation had specific ideas about how to strengthen Georgia as a state. They might not have initially considered seceding from the Russian Empire, yet they felt an acute need to make certain decisions independent of Moscow. One of the priorities of their project was to revive the Georgian language, which was seen as the cornerstone of national identity. For this reason they established ‘The Society of Propagation of Literacy among Georgians,’ to influence the educational sphere. Their ultimate goal was to re-introduce Georgian language into secondary schools and make education accessible and affordable. The Society catered to needy students by providing stipends, rendered financial help to students abroad and built new schools. Founded in 1879, the Society was headed by Dimitri Kipiani, an eminent public figure, while Ilia Chavchavadze became his deputy. In 1885 Ilia was appointed Head, a position he held until his death.
Besides confronting educational issues and spreading literacy, Chavchavadze also supported a highly significant reform to remove several letters from the Georgian alphabet. The young generation thought these letters represented sounds that weren’t used in Georgian any more and were therefore redundant. The reform was violently opposed by the older generation, who saw the change as too radical. The older script might have looked more exotic and traditional, but the younger generation didn’t think it had the flexibility required in the modern times.
BY ADOPTING EUROPEAN FASHION INSTEAD OF TRADITIONAL DRESS, THE TERGDALEULI MADE IT VERY CLEAR THEY REPRESENTED CHANGE, A VIEW NOT EVERYBODY IN GEORGIA WAS READY TO EMBRACE. ILIA OFTEN BUTTED HEADS WITH THE OLDER AND YOUNGER GENERATIONS, OPPOSING THEIR COMPLACENCY
Another battle between the generations was caused by the attempt to abolish high-brow writing style. The young generation wished to introduce language that would be familiar and understandable not only for the educated nobility, but for the wider public. To achieve this aim they utilized schools and the press, which turned out to be highly effective. Ilia Chavchavadze founded The Herald of Georgia (Sakartvelos Moambe) journal in 1863, which was a rather bold step considering that the concept of country had been banned from use. Nevertheless, he continued to print and by 1877 had expanded by publishing the newspaper Iveria. It was through this mouthpiece that he and his allies disseminated ideas previously unheard of in Geor-
Students of the Petersburg University, 1861. Standing (from the left) Al.(Kokhta) Apkhazi, M. Chikvaidze; sitting: (from the left) L. “Shakro” Magalashvili, I. Chavchavadze, N. Aleksi-Meskhishvili, G. Kazbegi;Beloi Ilia Chavchavadze with a group of young people, 1850s. (Ilia, third from left) Ilia Chavachavadze with his wife, Olga Guramishvili “Iveria” editorial office in Tbilisi, on Nikoloz st. Olga Guramishvilisimilit ommo
gia. Their objective was to reach as many readers as possible until the day would come when their ideas would be put to practice. The fact these publications existed at all was quite remarkable because they were instrumental in establishing a new culture and dialogue between various social groups. Apart from modernizing the educational sphere and developing journalism, Ilia Chavchavadze was also active in other public causes. In 1875 he became the acting head of the Nobility Estate Bank, which actually operated as a national bank. It supported educational reforms initiated by the Tergdaleuli along with other progressive projects. In this respect, Ilia Chavchavadze proved to be a skilful manager, and ran the bank for many years. Considering his authority on forming public opinion and transforming the social atmosphere, it is only logical to assume that Ilia Chavchavadze had some sort of influence on the country’s political life. In 1906, he was elected into the State Council of Russia, where he allied himself with the Russian liberals. On August 28th 1907, Ilia Chavchavadze was returning to his countryside house with his wife when his carriage was ambushed by six armed men “What are you doing? I’m Ilia!” he said in his dying breath. One account has an attacker respond by saying, “That’s why you’ve been killed!” The crime was never solved. Soviet authorities blamed the Tsarist secret police, while a more recent investigation charges it was a joint operation by the Social Democrats as a response to Ilia’s condemnation of their violent terrorist ways, his socially conservative vision for Georgian nationalism, and his tremendous popularity among the public. What is for certain is that no other Georgian in modern history has been more responsible for reviving the concept of the Georgian nation than this poet and prince
ilia WavWavaZe ar arsebobs qveyana, romelsac mxolod erTi poeti, erTi mwerali an erTi gamoCenili sazogado moRvawe hyavs. nebismieri qveynis istoria mravali aseTi pirovnebis Sesaxeb mogviTxrobs, magram, miuxedavad amisa, yovelTvis erTeulebi aRiqmebian ama Tu im qveynis saxed. germaniisTvis, magaliTad, aseTad goeTe SeiZleba moviazroT. inglisze fiqrisas, albaT, pirvel rigSi, Seqspiri gvaxsendeba. Tanamedrove saqarTveloSi ki erT-erTi aseTi pirovneba ilia WavWavaZea(1837-1907). SeuZlebelia, Cvens qveyanaSi stumrad myofi adamiani, adre Tu gvian, ar Sexvdes am saxelsa da gvars. saqarTvelos TiTqmis yvela did qalaqSi centraluri quCa mis saxels atarebs; mravlad aris ilias qandakebebic; arsebobs misi saxelobis universiteti; SeiZleba vTqvaT, rom ilias portreti saxelmwifo simbolikasac ki utoldeba, xSirad, prezidentis Tu sxva maRali rangis politikosebis fonze, swored ilias portreti Cans. miuxedavad imisa, rom igi saukunis win cxovrobda, ilia dResac qveynis ganviTarebis simbolod aRiqmeba.
JOHN STEINBECK IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS
WHEREVER WE HAD BEEN IN RUSSIA, IN MOSCOW, IN THE UKRAINE, IN STALINGRAD, THE MAGICAL NAME OF GEORGIA CAME UP CONSTANTLY.
Photos by Robert Capa All photos from “Georgia from an American Eye” © 1947 Cornell Capa
herever we had been in russia, in moscow, in the ukraine, in stalingrad, the magical name of georgia came up constantly. People who had never been there, and who possibly never could go there, spoke of Georgia with a kind of longing and a great admiration. They spoke of Georgians as supermen, as great drinkers, great dancers, great musicians, great workers and lovers. And they spoke of the country in the Caucasus and around the Black Sea as a kind of second heaven. Indeed, we began to believe that most Russians hope that if they live very good and virtuous lives, they will go not to heaven, but to Georgia, when they die. It is a country favored in climate, very rich in soil, and it has its own little ocean. Great service to the state is rewarded by a trip to Georgia. It is a place of recuperation for people who have been long ill. And even during the war it was a favored place, for the Germans never got there, neither with planes nor with troops. It is one of the places that was not hurt at all . We flew on over the unending plain until at last, in the distance we saw mountains, and it had been very long since we had seen any mountains at all. These were terrific mountains. We picked up altitude and
flew very high over the Caucasus. There were high peaks and sharp ridges, and in between there were streams where we could see ancient villages. Some of the peaks were snow-capped even in summer. After so much flat land there was a fine feeling of friendliness about mountains again. We climbed very high, and in the distance we saw the Black Sea. And our plane came down to it and flew along the edge of the land. It is a beautiful land. The hills come down to the edge of the sea, and on the sides of the slopes there are lovely trees, black cypresses, and a great deal of foliage. And among the hills are villages, and big houses, and hospitals. It might have been the coast of California, except that the Black Sea is not turbulent and violent like the Pacific, and the coast is not rocky. The sea is very blue, and very tranquil, and the beaches are very white. Our plane flew for a long time along the coast. At last it landed at Sukhum(i), a strip of level grass along the edge of the sea. The grass was very green, and the airport was lined with eucalyptus trees, the first we saw in Russia. The architecture was oriental, and everywhere were flowers and flowering trees. In front
IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS
of the little airport was a line of women selling fruits: grapes, and melons, and figs, and fine-colored peaches, and watermelons. These Georgians are different-looking people. They are dark almost gypsy-looking, with shining teeth, and long well-formed noses, and black curly hair. Nearly all the men wear mustaches, and they are handsomer than the women. They are lean and energetic, and their eyes are black and sparkling. We had read and had been told that this is an ancient Semitic people, a people which had come originally from the Euphrates Valley, at a time before Babylon was a city; that they are Sumerians, and that their strain is one of the oldest remaining in the world. They are fiery, proud, fierce, and gay, and the other people of Russia have great admiration for them. They speak always of their strength and vitality, and of their abilities - great cavalry men and good fighters, they say. And the men are triumphant with the women of Russia. They are a people of poetry, of music and dancing, and, according to the tradition, great lovers. And surely they live in a country favored by nature, and just as surely they have had to fight for it for two thousand years.
Then we flew through a pass, the mountaintops level with us, and came over the valley of Tiflis. It is a huge and dry valley which looks like New Mexico. And when we landed the air was hot and dry, because it is far from the sea, but it was pleasant heat, there was no discomfort in it. And this great level valley, surrounded by the high mountains, seemed almost barren from the air.
THESE GEORGIANS ARE DIFFERENT-LOOKING PEOPLE. THEY ARE DARK ALMOST GYPSY-LOOKING, WITH SHINING TEETH, AND LONG WELL-FORMED NOSES, AND BLACK CURLY HAIR.
We took off again and flew low over the sea, and then began to take on altitude, and climbed very high, and flew over mountains that were gaunt and brown, like the mountains of California. And deep in the creases there were little streams, and we could see the vegetation and the towns along the streams. The mountains were bleak here and forbidding, and they cast the light back blindingly.
We landed at a large airfield. On the high ridge to the west of us there was an ancient fortress, battlemented and huge, and black against the sky.
We drove across the flat dry plain to a pass in the mountains. And in the pass lay Tiflis, a beautiful city which has been on the main route of travel from the south to the north for many centuries. The ranges on either side are lined with ancient fortifications, and even the city is dominated by a castle on the ridge. There is a fortress on the other side of the valley too, for through this narrow pass has come every movement
IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS
and migration of people - Persians, Iranians, Iraqi from the south, and Tartars and other marauders from the north. And in this narrow pass the battles occurred and the fortifications were put up. Part of the city is very old, and a river runs through the pass, with high cliffs on one side. And on the high cliffs are clustered ancient houses. It is truly an ancient city, for whereas Moscow celebrates this year its eight-hundredth anniversary, Tiflis next year will celebrate its fifteen-hundredth. And this is the new
capital, the old capital is thirty kilometers farther along the river. The streets of Tiflis are wide and tree-shaded, and many of its buildings are modern. The streets climb the hills on either side. And at the very top of the hill, to the west, there is a playground and park, with a funicular railroad that goes straight up the cliff. It is a giant park, with a large restaurant, and it overlooks the valley for many miles. And on the ridge, in the very center of the city, the huge round towers and
IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS
IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS high battlemented walls of the city fortress stand, ruinous and forbidding. In the city and on the ridges there are old churches, for Christianity came to the Georgians in the fourth century, and churches which are still in use were built then. It is a city of many ancient stories, and probably many ancient ghosts. There is the story of the Moslem Iranian king who, massing his troops, forced the captive people of Tiflis to the bridge over the river, set up a picture of the Virgin, and allowed everyone to go free who would spit on the picture. Every one who refused had his head chopped off, and the story is that thousands of heads bumped in the river that day.
Church, built, I believe, in the seventh century, simple and beautiful. Our driver rode his jeep as far as he could, and we climbed the rest of the way. And there were many people climbing the twisting trail up to the church, many people going to worship there. This ancient church is much beloved by the Georgian people, and the graves of the great Georgian writers and composers of music are in the churchyard. Stalin’s mother is buried there under a very simple stone. Sitting on the edge of one composer s grave were three elderly women and an old man, and they were singing litanies in an ancient mode, soft weird music.
The people of Tiflis were better dressed, better looking, and more full of spirit than any we saw in Russia. There was gaiety and color in the streets. The clothing was handsome, and the women wore colored kerchiefs on their heads.
Inside the old church a service was going on, and there was more singing. The line of people came up, and as they came off the trail and into the churchyard, each one kneeled and kissed a corner of the church.
This city is incredibly clean. It is the first clean oriental city I have ever seen. In the river that cuts through the center of the city hundreds of little boys swim. And here there is no destruction, except that which time does to the ancient buildings.
It was a remote and peaceful place, and the city with its tile roofs was far below. We could see the botanical gardens, which were laid out by Queen Tamara, the fabulous twelfth-century queen, who has left a heroic shadow over the city. Queen Tamara was beautiful, and kind, and fierce. She knew statecraft and building. She built fortresses and encouraged poets and caused musicians to gather together one of the fairy queens of the world, like Elizabeth, and Catherine of Aragon, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In the morning we got up very early, for the city fascinated us, and we wanted to see a great deal of it.
WE DID NOT FEEL STRANGE IN TIFLIS, FOR TIFLIS RECEIVES MANY VISITORS, AND IT IS USED TO FOREIGNERS, AND SO WE DID NOT STAND OUT AS MUCH AS WE HAD IN KIEV, AND WE FELT QUITE AT HOME.
We climbed the ridge to the old fortification, which has round towers and high thick walls; it might have been impregnable forever if it had not been for artillery, for there was no way to attack it without artillery.
We walked through the tropical garden of the city, beautiful with flowering trees and rare plants, many of which we had never seen before. It was cool there, and a stream flowed beside it. We did not feel strange in Tiflis, for Tiflis receives many visitors, and it is used to foreigners, and so we did not stand out as much as we had in Kiev, and we felt quite at home. There are many churches in Tiflis, and it must have been, as it is now, a city of religious toleration, for there are ancient synagogues and Moslem temples, and none of them has ever been destroyed. High upon the hill, overlooking the city, is David’s
When we came down from David’s Church the bells of the cathedral were ringing violently, and we went in. The church was rich and oriental, and its paintings were very black with incense and age. It was crowded with people. The service was being performed by an old man, with white hair and a golden crown, so beautiful that he looked unreal. The old man is called the Catholicus, he is the head of the Church of Georgia, and his robe is of gold thread. There was great majesty in the service, and the music of the large choir was incomparable. Incense rose to the high ceiling of the church, and the sun shone through and lighted it. Capa took many pictures. It was amazing to see how he could move about silently and photograph without being noticed. And later he went into the choir loft and took more pictures.
IN SEARCH OF GEORGIAN WONDERS
The summer nights were wonderful in Tiflis; the air soft, and light, and dry. Young men and girls walked aimlessly in the streets, enjoying themselves. And the costumes of the young men were rather nice: tunics, sometimes of heavy white silk, belted at the waist, and long narrow trousers, and soft black boots. They are a very handsome breed, the Georgian men. From the high balconies of the old houses we could hear in the night soft singing of strange music, accompanied by a picked instrument that sounded like a mandolin, and occasionally a flute played in a dark street.
The people of Georgia seemed to us more relaxed than any we had seen so far, relaxed, and fierce, and full of joy. And perhaps this is why the Russians admire them so. Perhaps this is the way they would like to be. There was a huge moon over the western mountains, and it made the city seem even more mysterious and old, and the great black castle on the ridge stood out in front of the moon. And if there are ghosts anyplace in the world, they must be here, and if there is a ghost of Queen Tamara, she must have been walking the ridge in the moonlight that night.
ONLINE MAGAZINE WWW.WEARESWEET.NET
All photos from The Agency of Protected Areas Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia Web-site: www.apa.gov.ge The Administration Of Lagodekhi Protected Areas Web-site: www.lagodekhipa.ge
DURING RECENT YEARS, NUMEROUS NATIONAL PARKS AND OTHER PROTECTED AREAS HAVE BEEN FORMED IN DIFFERENT REGIONS OF GEORGIA. MANY NEWLY PROTECTED AREAS HAVE BEEN CREATED AS A RESULT OF THE ENLARGEMENT AND MERGING OF ALREADY EXISTING CONSERVATION SITES. THE PROTECTED AREAS OF LAGODEKHI INCLUDE LAGODEKHI STRICT NATURE RESERVE AND LAGODEKHI MANAGED RESERVE, AND HAVE BEEN FORMED ON THE BASIS OF LAGODEKHI RESERVE – THE FIRST PROTECTED AREA EVER IN GEORGIA.
INTRODUCTION In recent years, numerous National Parks and other Protected Areas have been formed in different regions of Georgia. Many newly Protected Areas have been created as a result of the enlargement and merging of already existing conservation sites. The Protected Areas of Lagodekhi include Lagodekhi Strict Nature Reserve and Lagodekhi Managed Reserve, and have been formed on the basis of Lagodekhi Reserve – the first protected area ever in Georgia. Location and History Lagodekhi Protected Areas are located in the farthest northeast corner of Georgia, on the southern slopes of the Greater Caucasus where its altitude ranges from 400 to 3,500 m above sea level.
SOME DISCOVERIES, LIKE THE TWELTH-CENTURY MACHA CASTLE ARE LOCATED WITHIN THE RESERVE. NEAR THE PROTECTED AREA IS ST.THEODOR’S CHURCH, BUILT BETWEEN THE SIXTH AND EIGHTH CENTURIES.
Historically, the Lagodekhi region was part of the Hereti region. Ancient chronicles mention the settlements of Lagoeti, Lakuati and Lakausti, as parts of the
Kingdom of Caucasian Albania, which primarily occupied the territory of today’s Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan. Lagodekhi city, located at the crossroads of trading routes, facilitated the economical and cultural development of the entire region. Ruins of pre-Christian settlements and tombs dot the region, giving visitors a sense that the greater Lagodekhi area has been inhabited since time immemorial. The most significant discoveries of the Bronze Age were made in nearby Ulianovka village. Some discoveries, like the 12th century Macha Castle are located within the reserve. St.Theodor’s Church, built between the 6th and 8th centuries is just outside the reserve. Other historical remains include ruins of the 8th Lakausta Castle and the Phoni, Areshpheran and Khoshta churches. In the late Middle Ages, the Lagodekhi region suffered from continuous invasions, especially after the settle-
HISTORY OF THE PROTECTED AREAS ment of two Northern Caucasian tribes, the Laks and Didoes, in neighboring Char-Belakan. Endless invasions into the region made it almost impossible to live there. By the end of the 18th century, very few residents remained. Erekle, the King of Kakheti, repopulated Lagodeki with Imeretians (originally from southwestern Georgia) to restore the Georgian population to this part of the country. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, only about 250 people lived in the Lagodekhi region. It took several generations for Lagodekhi to grow from a small village in the Sighnaghi district to the regional centre it has become. Lagodekhi is quite rich in natural resources. It has ideal conditions for beekeeping and animal grazing, as well as for vineyards, vegetables and plants. Lagodekhi’s soil and moderately humid sub-tropical climate also proved to be perfect for planting tobacco crops. Although harder to quantify, the Lagodekhi region is also rich in nature, boasting fascinating landscapes as well as rare plants and animals. Its forests comprise a biodiversity that is not only of national importance for Georgia, but also of regional importance for the entire Caucasus. Hence, the Lagodekhi forests are a real treasure for Georgia.
he abundant flora and fauna of this region has attracted the attention of botanists and nature lovers from as early as the 19th century. The Polish amateur naturalist Mlokosiewicz greatly contributed to the popularisation of Lagodekhi. A former officer of the highest pedigree, Mlokosiewicz banished to Lagodekhi by the Czar of Russia, initially worked as a forest warden. In 1875, Mlokosiewicz began to suspect that the Black Grouse living in Lagodekhi differ from European Black Grouse. In order to check his hypothesis, he sent some specimens to leading biologists of the time, who confirmed the distinctness of the Caucasian species and thus Mlokosiewisz’s exciting discovery. During the same year, the Caucasian Black Grouse was recognized as a separate species and named Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, in honour of it discoverer In 1903, the Russian Czar’s government leased Lagodekhi Gorge to a well-known landowner and businessman, the Duke Demidov, for hunting. The Russian Duke established strict rules for the territory - only Demidov’s family members and guests had the right to hunt here. In addition to hunting on the lands, he banned woodcutting, pasturing and haying by the local population. The rumour has it that this enforcement even resulted in the murder of alleged violators at some occasions. The prohibitions, which were introduced in 1903, turned the hunting reserve into a true wildlife refuge and contributed to the propagation of animals and birds, as well as the preservation of the forest in its original state. Soonafter, in 1911, scientists presented the report “Lagodekhi Gorge as a Monument of Nature and the Necessity of its Protection” at a meeting of the Caucasian Department of the Russian Geographic Society. At that same meeting, the Society considered a botanical description of Lagodekhi, which had been prepared by the well-known Russian biolo-
HISTORY OF THE PROTECTED AREAS The abundant flora and fauna of this region has attracted the attention of botanists and nature lovers from as early as the 19th century. The Polish amateur naturalist Ludwik Mlokosiewicz greatly contributed to the popularisation of Lagodekhi. A former officer of the highest rank, Mlokosiewicz was banished to Lagodekhi by the Czar of Russia and initially worked as a forest warden. In 1875, Mlokosiewicz began to suspect that the Black Grouse living in Lagodekhi differ from European Black Grouse. In order to check his hypothesis, he sent some specimens to leading biologists of the time, who confirmed the distinctness of the Caucasian species and verified Mlokosiewisz’s exciting discovery. During the same year, the Caucasian Black Grouse was recognized as a separate species and named Tetrao mlokosiewiczi, in honour of its discoverer
gist Sosnovsky. Lagodekhi Gorge was declared a preserve in 1912 - Wood-cutting, hunting and pasturing were forbidden on its territory. The second birth of the reserve took place in Soviet times, in 1929. In 1935 the government enlarged it and included the basins of the rivers Salesavis Khevi and Bneli Kheoba. In 1945, alpine and sub alpine pastures were added to the reserve. This event was of particular importance, as the Protected Area henceforth covered a wide range of climatic zones and landscapes existing in Lagodekhi region. Lagodekhi was famous for populations of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and East Caucasian Tur (Capra cylindricornis), the number of which increased year by year. Very rarely, when Soviet high officials or foreign guests arrived at Lagodekhi, the government allowed hunting. Forest guards from the older generation remember the last such occasion, when the last Iranian Shah visited, the hunter-sportsman Reza-Pekhlevi. The Prince, who was an excellent shot, demanded to frighten the turs away, as he considered it unworthy to shoot at turs which were standing still. During this hunting trip the Shah’s brother killed two excellent turs. Even today, the ruins of the building where this guest had spent the night before his hunting excursion, are referred to by locals as the “Prince’s accommodation.” After the downfall of the Soviet Union, the state of the Lagodekhi Reserve became dire, due to the hard political situation in Georgia. During a few years, the population of turs fell from 3,500 to 300 individuals. The Red Deer population, which had once numbered about 1,500, was also hunted to less than 10% of its peak population. Only 100 of the 500 Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) survived. Populations of Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) and Wild Boar (Sus scrofa) were also severely reduced. The situation has stabilized since those days, but incidents of poaching on the territory of the Reserve are still frequent. In 2003, two Protected Areas were created in Lagodekhi: Lagodekhi Strict Nature Reserve (22,266 ha) and Lagodekhi Managed Reserve (1,992 ha). The eastern border of Lagodekhi Protected Areas runs along the Azerbaijani-Georgian frontier, and its northern border is identical with the ridge that divides Georgia and Dagestan (Russian Federation) in this area.
In 1903, the Russian Czar’s government leased Lagodekhi Gorge to the Duke Demidov, a well-known landowner, for hunting. The Russian Duke established strict rules for the territory - only his family members and guests had the right to hunt here. In addition to hunting on the lands, he banned wood-cutting, pasturing and haying by the local population. Stories exist of alleged violators being killed on some occasions. The prohibitions, which were introduced in 1903, turned the hunting reserve into a true wildlife refuge and contributed to the propagation of animals and birds, as well as the preservation of the forest in its original state. Eight years later, scientists presented the report “Lagodekhi Gorge as a Monument of Nature and the Necessity of its Protection” to the Caucasian Department of the Russian Geographic Society. The next year, Lagodekhi Gorge was declared a preserve where woodcutting, hunting and pasturing were forbidden. The next stage of evolution took place in 1935, when the Soviet government added the rivers basins of Salesavis Khevi and Bneli Kheoba to the preserve. In 1945, alpine and sub alpine pastures were also added, which increased its significance as the protected area now included a wide range of climatic zones and landscapes to it topography. Lagodekhi was famous for populations of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) and East Caucasian Tur (Capra cylindricornis), which increased in number each year. On very rare occasions, the government would allow high Soviet officials or foreign guests to hunt in the park. Older forest rangers recall the last time this was permitted was when the Shah of Iran, Reza-Pekhlevi visited. The Shah, a renown sportsman and excellent shot, demanded to frighten the turs away, as he considered it unworthy to shoot at game which stood still. Today, the ruins of where the Shah stayed are referred to by locals as the “Prince’s accommodation.”
FLORA AND FAUNA The high flora diversity of Lagodekhi Protected Areas is a result of its dramatic vertical range, which extends some 3,000 meters. From the shrubby forests of the lowlands to treeless cliffs of the mountaintops, the abundance of plant species exceeds that of all other Georgian Protected Areas. The number of endemic species to Lagodekhi is astonishing. 121 species appear only in the Caucasus; 9 are found only in Georgia and 7 of these are endemic solely to the Kakheti region.
main rivers are the Ninoshkevi, Shromiskhevi, Lagodekhistskali and Matsimistskali, which forms the natural border with neighboring Azerbaijan. These high mountain rivers, loaded with trout, drop dramatically through steep, narrow gorges, often culminating in spectacular waterfalls many meters high. The regions is also full of smaller streams and springs, including sulfur springs, which are mostly located at tree line.
Lagodekhi is famous for its forests, particularly, its virgin forests of beech and hornbeam, which are unique in the country.. Lagodekhiâ€™s numerous rivers add to the beauty of this natural treasure. The
In the alpine zone of Lagodekhi, there are several beautiful glacial lakes, the largest of which is Shavi Klde Lake (Black Cliff Lake), with a depth of almost 14 meters.
RED DEER RUT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS A “FESTIVAL OF NATURE” - A TIME OF PASSIONATE FIGHTS, WHEN THE FOREST IS FILLED WITH PRIMEVAL NOISE. IT IS A PITY THAT THE VOICE THAT ANNOUNCES THE BEGINNING OF THIS CONTEST IS OFTEN SILENCED BY THE POACHER’S BULLET.
There are almost no coniferous forests in Lagodekhi. Deciduous forests dominate. The most common tree in the Reserve is beech. On alluvial terraces, slightly away from rivers and shrubs, there are sections of alder forests. Hornbeam forests grow on plains in the lower slopes along the middle course of the rivers Shromistskali, Lagodekhistskali and Matsimistskali. Small sections of Georgian Oak and mixed deciduous forests are interspersed randomly. Higher in the sub-alpine zone, are Maple groves, while even higher up are high-mountain Oaks. The low birches, which can be found bordering the sub-alpine and alpine meadows are deformed from heavy snows and avalanches, like everywhere else in the high Caucasus. At 2,300 meters (7,500 ft.), the forest zone ends with birch woods and gives way to evergreen rhododendron, which in Lagodekhi
reaches up to an altitude of 2,700 meters (8,850 ft.). The Eastern Caucasian Tur is the beauty queen of the Caucasus. Those who have seen a herd of male turs with their large horns will surely never forget it. These massive, strong-footed animals move around unreachable cliffs with surprising ease. Every morning in Lagodekhi begins with the whistle of the Caucasian Snowcock. It is quite difficult to see this large, shy bird, even with the help of binoculars. The only worthy natural enemy of the Caucasian Snowcock is the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), which can be frequently seen hovering high over Lagodekhi. Slightly below the habitat of turs and snowcocks live Chamois (Phsiti, as they are called in eastern Georgia), which can sometimes also be seen in the immediate
proximity of turs. In comparison with turs, chamois live in smaller herds, mainly at the border of alpine and sub-alpine zones. In winter they can descend into forests, although their home ground is high mountainous terrain. When Chamois sense danger, these graceful, gazelle-like animals always run upslope and into remote mountain areas. In the Lagodekhi mountains, Red Deer can be found within the habitat of turs and chamois. This fact deserves attention, as the deers’ usual habitat is in the deciduous forests lower down. This is thought to be because of human disturbances. Lagodekhi forest wardens say that in the summer, they have seen mass movements of Red Deer herds over the central ridge of the Greater Caucasus. In neighboring Daghestan, a significant increase of the deer population has recently been observed. Every autumn, you can hear the heart-rending bawl of stags as they fight and mate in the Lagodekhi forests.
Red Deer rut has been described as a “festival of nature” - a time of passionate fighting, when the forest is filled with primeval noise. It is a pity that the voice that announces the beginning of this contest is often silenced by the poacher’s bullet. Stags that have lost their usual discretion, and have become passive and tired of fighting and mating during the rut, are very easy to stalk. A lot of “hunters” take advantage of this precarious situation. Roe Deer can be seen almost everywhere in Georgia wherever a deciduous forest exists. The Lagodekhi region is no exception and a relatively stable population of Roe Deer lives there. This small-sized animal with thin, fast legs is one of the most graceful and beautiful inhabitants of Georgia’s natural environment. Unlike the Red Deer, Roe Deer seem to be able to endure human proximity quite well. Their habitat extends from the Lagodekhi Managed Reserve, near the southern border of the Strict Nature Reserve, to the sub-alpine forests. During winter snows, traces of
this animal can often be seen near evergreen blackberry bushes. Wild Boar live in shrubby areas of Lagodekhi, and is a massive, strong and rather smart animal. Wild Boar with their sharp, cutting tusks are very dangerous adversaries, and not an easy prey for any predator. Brown Bear is another widespread predator in Lagodekhi Protected Areas, whose traces can be seen almost everywhere in forests and mountains here. This enormous animal can appear a little clumsy at first sight, but is a very quick and strong omnivore. Meat constitutes only a small portion of its diet. Brown Bear, who are constantly on the move, eat plants and wild vegetables. In snowy winters, when food becomes scarce, they hibernate - only to continue their wandering life in spring, after losing half their body weight. In autumn nights, the howling of wolves can often
be heard. Fortunately, the times when scientists regarded wolves as harmful, blood-sucking killers have passed. Wolves typically prey on weak and diseased animals, often hoofed mammals. However, as populations of hoofed animals decreases everywhere, due to excessive hunting and poaching, wolves sometimes have to attack cattle more often. The numbers of wolves are declining at an alarming rate throughout Georgia. Lagodekhi reserve is no exception: the reduction in Red Deer, Chamois and Roe Deer has forced the wolves to move to neighboring inhabited areas and pastures. The actual population of wolves has not increased, but hunger has forced them into conflict with the human population.
TOURISM Lagodekhi Protected Areas are a haven for travellers and nature lovers. The regionâ€™s mild sub-tropical climate, pristine mountain and lowland forests, beauti-
GEO ful alpine meadows and snowy peaks, rare, endemic flora and fauna, in addition to the historical monuments and well-known hospitality of Lagodekhians are all excellent attractions for tourism development. Tourism activities were not allowed in the Lagodekhi Strict Nature Reserve during the Soviet period, although many foreigners visited this area for research purposes. Since becoming a Managed Reserve, it has become possible to host and serve visitors. To utilize the tourism opportunities, infrastructural works are in progress on and around the Lagodekhi Protected Areas: walking and horse-riding trails are being made, information stands are being erected, a visitor information centre and shelters are being built, while hotels and guesthouses of various capacities are being established or improved. The Lagodekhi Protected Areas are a perfect place for visitors looking to spend an unforgettable vacation hiking, horse-riding, birdwatching, wildlife photographing, fly-fishing, or simply relaxing in an oxygen-rich environment.
Hiking Trails IN LAGODEKHI PROTECTED AREAS: 1. Lagodekhi Waterfall
4. Shavi Klde Lake
The trail begins at the Lagodekhi Protected Area administration center and continues through the forest towards Shroma River gorge and the waterfall. Visitors may come across wild animals such as Red deer, Roe deer, wild boar, and many forest birds. Duration: one day, 5-6 h. Length: 7 km.
The route begins at Lagodekhi Protected Area administration center. Visitors drive to Matsimi village and then follow the trail to the alpine areas towards Shavi Klde Lake, which runs parallel to the country border. It is possible to ride horses on this trip and rent equipment. The first camp-site is at a spring area, the second at Shavi Klde Lake, and third at Mt. Ninigori. Duration: three days Length: 50 km (rt). There are no roads in the Lagodekhi protected Areas – the trails are for hiking or horse-riding. There are established fees in Lagodekhi Protected Areas for entrance, parking, camping, guide service, horse and equipment rental, etc. For details and booking, please contact the Protected Areas administration.
2. Gurgeniani Waterfall Visitors should drive from the Lagodekhi Protected Area administration center to Gurgeniani village, where the Nino Khevi begins. The trail winds through a forest of beech trees. Visitors may come across wild animals such as Red deer, Roe deer, Wild boar and raptors. Duration: one day Length: 8 km. 3. Macha Castle The trail begins at the Lagodekhi Protected Area administration center and follows the river “Bneli Kheoba” (Dark Gorge). Visitors will be able to see an ancient castle-town and its stone wall perimeter, small church, underground passageways and various ruins. Duration: one day, 3 h. Length: 4 km.
Useful distances: Tbilisi – Lagodekhi: 160 km. Signagi – Lagodekhi: 45 km. Telavi – Lagodekhi: 75 km. Tbilisi – Signagi: 115 km. Tbilisi – Telavi: 160 km.
Rabbis’s activites in Georgia Photo by Mariam Janashia
he two painters likely met in one of the many taverns in Tiflis around 1908. One, Nikos Pirosmani, would be posthumously noted as Georgia’s most famous painter. The other, Shalom Kobashvili, a poor man who traveled from town to town to earn a living, would die in obscurity in 1942. Yet from the folkloric work Georgia’s first Jewish painter left behind, we can glimpse into the lives of Georgia’s Jewish population at the time. Koboshvili didn’t start painting until late in life and his naïve paintings were scenes from his memory where he recalled his childhood and the customs and habits of his family, including the religious rites his family practiced. His very vivid and expressive work is in fact, the first artistic documents depicting the daily life of Georgia’s Jews, a people with a very long and profound history in Georgia. Georgian Jews have a 2,600-year history in the region and are one of the oldest surviving Diaspora Jewish communities. Their origins are debatable as some claim they are they are
descendants of the ten tribes exiled by Shalmaneser, while others say the first Jews arrived when the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem, destroyed the First Temple and exiled the Jews. There is archaeological evidence of Jews living in the ancient capital of Mtskheta. The next wave of Jewish immigration appeared in the first century A.D. after the Second Temple was destroyed by Titus. According to ancient Georgian historical records, another wave of Jews arrived in Georgia after the defeat of Bar-Kokhba’s rebellion in 169 B.C., settling in Urbnisi and Bodbe, in addition to Mtskheta. Several more waves of Jews arrived in the 6th, 10th, and at the beginning of 19th century, when Aramaic Jews (Lakhlukhs) came from Turkey, and Jews from Iraq and Iran. Ashkenazi Jews were also exiled to Georgia by the Russian government in the early 19th century. Ancient sources reveal that Jerusalem and Jews had a particularly significant role in spreading the idea of monotheism and Christianity in Georgia. One of the first saints of the Georgian Church was Sydonia, a Jewish woman, and the
Georgian Jew, Elioz of Mtskheta, was responsible for bringing the shroud of Christ to Georgia. Jews settled in Tbilisi from the period of the new capital’s relocation and set up a synagogue in Kldisubani, though it has not been preserved. There are presently two functioning synagogues in Tbilisi; The Ashkenaz on 13 Kozhevenny, and The Great Synagogue, a Sephardic temple on Leselidze St. which was built in 1905 in a neighborhood where many Jews had settled. Today Synagogues also function in Batumi, Kutaisi and Akhaltsikhe.
century leather Tora, known as “The Lailash Bible.” This sacred document, beautifully adorned, had once been kept in the Lailash Synagogue in Saloniki, Greece, for centuries. It was even called the “Bible of Svaneti” and both Christians and Judaists devoted numerous legends to it.
THE ROLE OF JERUSALEM AND JEWS WAS PARTICULARLY STRONG IN SPREADING THE IDEA OF MONOTHEISM AND CHRISTIANITY IN GEORGIA.
In the National Museum of Georgia and the National Center of Manuscripts, many significant exhibits regarding the early life of the Jews in Georgia are maintained. One may find one of the most ancient Georgian-Jewish manuscripts, the 10th
Georgian Jews have shared a long history of peaceful co-existence with Christian Georgians for many centuries. Georgia for them is a second motherland. Many Jewish descendents who were forced to move to the Crimea in the 15th and 16th centuries can still trace their Georgian roots to this day. Although the Jewish population of Georgia has decreased significantly, as a result of economic and political turmoil following independence, the remaining Jews of Georgia (some 13,000) have successfully maintained their Jewish identity and traditions despite the oppression they faced under the Soviets.
Georgian Jews in Synagogue Tora Photo bt Dati Rostomashvili Synagogue in Tbilisi
CITIZENSHIP Synagogue in Oni
THE SYNAGOGUE OF ONI
Of all the synagogues in Georgia, one of the most remarkable is the Synagogue of Oni, built at the end of the 19th century. This Synagogue has a unique story of its own and is considered to be a symbol of Jewish and Georgian integrity. In the early 1950s, the Soviet Government cracked down on Zionism with particular ferocity. In 1950, the Committee of State Security issued an order to knock down the Synagogue of Oni, but a group of Georgian and Jewish mothers entered the Synagogue with their babies and locked the door from inside. The communists were stumped and rescinded the order, thanks to the devotion of Georgian and Jewish mothers. The Synagogue still stands in the center of Oni and is under the protection of the Historical and Architectural Monuments of Georgia.
saqarTvelos erovnul muzeumsa da xelnawerTa erovnul centrSi bevri mniSvnelovani eqsponatia daculi, romelic saqarTveloSi ebraelebis 26 saukunovan cxovrebas ukavSirdeba. Zveli qarTuli saistorio mwerlobis Tanaxmad, maSin, rodesac babilonis mefem, nabuqodonosorma ierusalimi aiRo da pirveli taZari daangria, iudeadan ebraelebs saqarTvelomde mouRweviaT da mcxeTaSi mamasaxlisisagan xarkiT miwebi auRiaT. saqarTvelos Zveli dedaqalaqis gareubanSi, zanavSi, ebraelebi mas Semdeg dasaxlebulan. saukunovanma mSvidobianma Tanacxovrebam Seqmna qarTveli ebraelebis fenomeni. saqarTveloSi ebraelebma Semoinaxes da dRemde moitanes religiuri tradiciebi, ar dakarges Tavisi erovnuloba da TviTmyofadoba. saqarTvelos isini meore samSoblod miiCneven, maTTvis qarTuli ena iseTive mSobliuria, rogorc ivriTi. saqarTvelos qalaqebSi mdebare sinagogebs Soris, erT - erTi gamorCeuli, XIX saukunis bolos agebuli, onis sinagogaa. am sinagogas gansakuTrebuli istoria aqvs da dRemde qarTveli da ebraeli xalxebis erTianobis simbolod aRiqmeba. 1950-iani wlebis dasawyisSi, sabWoTa xelisufleba sionizms gansakuTrebuli sisastikiT ebrZoda. 1950 wels uSiSroebis saxelmwifo komitetma gasca brZaneba onis sinagogis dangrevis Sesaxeb. Tumca, onSi Casulma komitetis TanamSromlebma brZanebis sisruleSi moyvana ver SeZles. sinagogaSi, protestis niSnad, qarTveli da ebraeli qalebi, Cvil bavSvebTan erTad Sevidnen da kari Signidan Carazes. amgvar winaaRmdegobas komunistebic ki ver aRudgnen win. qarTveli da ebraeli qalebis am Tavdadebam onis sinagoga ganadgurebas gadaarCina. sinagogis dangrevis Sesaxeb brZaneba xelmeored aRaravis gaucia. taZari dRemde dgas onis centrSi da mas saqarTvelos istoriul-arqiteqturuli Zeglis statusi icavs.
1 Freedom Square, 0105, Tbilisi, Georgia Tel.: +995 32 470311 / www.eurohousegeorgia.org
Special Investment Project ANAKLIA, GEORGIA2011 Government of Georgia offers investors unique investment opportunities through Free Touristic Zones already developed in Kobuleti and Anaklia. Unprecedented terms for construction of hotels result in high interest from the side of investors. Georgian National Investment Agency is in charge of disseminating information on Kobuleti and Anaklia-Zugdidi Free Touristic Zones and all materials are available at the GNIA official web page www.investingeorgia.org.
Why To Invest in Anaklia •Free Land- A plot of land along a seaside boulevard with an area of 3.7 hectares will be provided for 5 hotels. i.e. on average 0.6 ha for each hotel plot •Free Hotel Master Plan •No Profit and Property taxes for 15 years •Free casino license for the hotels with more than 100 rooms •Fully Provided engineering utility networks and corresponding outdoor infrastructure such as electricity, gas, water and new roads
Anaklia in brief •Anaklia- a townlet and seaside resort on Black Sea in western Georgia located in the Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region •Sandy beach and a subtropical climate •Best climatic conditions along the Georgian Black Sea Coast •Average temperature in August is +23 C •Beautiful seaside boulevard, designed by a famous Spanish architecture Company CMD Ingenieros, along which the hotel plots are located •Yacht Club •Mineral Waters
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Otar Ioseliani O Interviewed by Irine Zhordania, 10.12.2010, Tbilisi
tar Ioseliani is a director whose films are strikingly dissimilar than other filmmakers’. The language of his films is different, understood without words. He cannot be attributed to the cinema of any one country. He appears to be standing distinctly aloof, but at the same time is amazingly familiar and appealing to everyone. Familiar, because his films seem to start well before they actually start – they come from the past. Appealing, because you will definitely come across something you have thought about.
Film Festival. Several months later, it opened the Tbilisi International Film Festival. Our conversation began with discussing the film.
The acknowledged Georgian film director’s new film, Chantrapas, was first shown at the Cannes
Chantrapas – ‘Won’t Sing’ The French word made its way into the Russian language in the 19th century. Initially, it referred to those young people who failed to complete a highly competitive selection with Italian musicians. ‘Chantrapas’ comprised those who were hopeless at singing, among them renown pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff and composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
Interviewed by Irine Zhordania, 10.12.2010, Tbilisi Why ‘Chantrapas’? It’s an old notion, denoting decent people. These people are unable to make money, cannot hold high-ranking positions, are incapable of succeeding in business. Such carefree people are extremely rare in today’s Georgia. Everyone has become rather serious, while the carefree ‘chantrapas’ has virtually disappeared. When you start a new film, how precisely do you know what you are going to film? Filmmaking is a hard, complex process. Its limits are so tight that you cannot give vent to your imagination on the filming set. The general outline should be clear to you from the very beginning. Nugzar Tarielashvili and Nana Ioseliani, who work with me, draw the whole film for me. Then the production crew get the copies of the film project so that each and every one knows exactly what, where and when we’re filming. I believe my colleagues – Giorgi and Eldar Shengelais,
Merab Kokochashvili or Levan Koguashvili work in a similar way. However, it also happens that you get a completely new idea on the set and divert from the initial plan.
Otar ioseliani shooting “Chantrapas” Scene from “Chantrapas”
It’s rather dangerous to allow yourself a diversion considering a tight filming schedule. Working under the taut capitalistic conditions, I avoid diversions. Filmmaking is connected to such a lot of problems, so many people, such a lot of money is spent and so stretched in time – the production itself stifles you, so that you cannot sing a different tune. Your films are understood without words. Do you believe that words have no significance for a film? I do, but who takes heed? I can remind you of my experience: I was quite young when I made the film April, where a married couple used non-existent words in their quarrel. Later, my Pastoral was filmed in Megrelia, so half of the dialogue was lost for the Georgian population who don’t speak the language. Then I went to Africa and made a film where the dialect of the Diola tribe was used,
Interview Scene from “Monday Morning”’ Scene from “Gardens in Autumn”
something that doesn’t translate into any language. The film was shown in the village where it was filmed and my heart sank when I saw that the local inhabitants understood the meaning of the words – I think the film lost a lot. Generally speaking, the film was born mute, its medium being mime and action. That was the original film. In his short films, Misha Kobakhidze adheres to the tradition. Do you think that introduction of sound to the film was a step back? It was indeed. When sound was introduced into films and sound track was added, the film became too talkative. One can close one’s eyes and still follow it, as staring at the screen is practically senseless. And if the film is in a foreign language that you don’t know, you can’t understand anything. Dubbing films into Georgian or supplying them with subtitles doesn’t help. On the contrary, the plot of the film suffers. It’s a sad reality. What about the theatre? Why is it that we, the Georgians, highly esteem Ivane Machabeli’s translation of Shakespeare? Mise-en-scene and live acting are important in theatre, but still, words are paramount.
Have you ever thought of directing a play? No. It’s not my profession. There are things that I know and others that I don’t. Is there anything in your profession that has remained unsolved? Within the limits I have set myself to, I’d say there is nothing mysterious anymore. I admire the masterpieces of film directors – whether known and unknown to me – and I am perfectly aware of what I can and cannot do. Everyone has their niche, their thoughts and skills. For instance, who can reach the depths of Satyajit Ray, Fellini, Ingmar Bergman or
What is the reason that directors such as Tarkovsky and Parajanov were able to make their films under the totalitarian regime, despite the censorship and extremely harsh conditions? Why aren’t such films made today? One thing you need to know is that the more opposition you have, the more challenging it becomes to overcome it, but if there is none, it’s like hammering at cotton wool. There was no such challenge in Europe, but the films were much better in quality than they are today, weren’t they? Cinema as such was invented in France. The reason the intelligent people devoted themselves to it was that they clearly saw its potential – it is an extremely flexible and laconic means of expressing one’s idea and then its public sharing. They must have thought that cinema would enable the wider public to get an insight into the spiritual worlds of Rabelais, Montaigne and Voltaire.
WITHIN THE LIMITS I HAVE SET MYSELF TO, I’D SAY THERE IS NOTHING MYSTERIOUS ANYMORE. I ADMIRE THE MASTERPIECES OF FILM DIRECTORS – WHETHER KNOWN AND UNKNOWN TO ME – AND I AM PERFECTLY AWARE OF WHAT I CAN AND CANNOT DO.
If you fail to perceive the texts by Moliere, Shakespeare or Hamsun, if you don’t understand what Hamlet says in his soliloquy – ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ – the effect is lost. The British audience was greatly impressed by Robert Sturua’s mise-en-scene of Richard III. But the trick is that the English intellectuals know the play practically by heart.
Orson Welles? In the meanwhile, it’s a shame when some of my colleagues try to imitate these great directors.
Those who believed it presented the opportunity were: René Claire, Abel Gance, Marcel Carne, Jacque Tati, Jacque Rivette, Godard, Eric Rohmer; Jean Vigo made the most profound, the greatest film L’Atalante. The belief spread fast across the globe: Neorealism sprang in Italy, where De Sica made his Miracle in Milan, Boris Barnet appeared in Russia, Fritz Lang in Germany, John Ford in the USA and Nikoloz Shengelaia in Georgia... Then everything vanished. They all stopped, unable to work anymore. In Europe, namely in France, there was no ideological censorship, but society was suffering from another fatal disease – ignorance. For a creative person nothing can be worse than the ignorance of the viewers – much more cruel than mere censorship. It’s all gone now. The heights reached by our forerunners within that relatively short period of time still remains an unattainable standard, the glory of cinematography. And then... Then we were attacked by Hollywood, as if it were a tank division that trampled everything under
Interview their tracks. Why did Orson Welles run away from Hollywood? Why did John Ford emerge? Even Charlie Chaplin fled the US, settled in Europe, but, unfortunately, failed to produce anything noteworthy. That’s it in a gist: as usual, the mob got an upper hand. Have you remained a bit of a mathematician? Does your first profession still excite you? For quite some time I’ve been thinking that one should stay as far away as possible from mathematics and natural sciences in general. I’ll try to explain why a little later. It’s hard to imagine that the works of Bach, Leonardo, Dante and Stravinsky are not based on a precise mathematical model. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and later, Newton, left mankind tools and food for thought – geometry, algebra and differential calculus.
and breathe toxic gases as we do so… And all along, our minds are riddled with futile questions: how the world started, what was before that, what eternity or infinity means… Who can answer? No one.
As for science: we humans are haunted by a yearning called curiosity. When it grows out of all proportion, it results in self-admiration with one’s knowledge, ideas and erudition – the person now belongs to an arrogant caste of scientists, which often entails his superior attitude towards mere mortals. Old eastern manuscripts reveal a hidden symbol for oil – it’s a giant or a genie encased in an ewer. If any ignoramus is too greedy to open the lid to let the genie out, it will fulfill three wishes and then disappear roaring with laughter only to do an abominable mischief. I’m not sure if we should be glad or sad that oil deposits deep down are dwindling. In the meantime, we happily drive around in our cars, fly in planes
Scene from “Gardens in Autumn”
Constant tectonic processes affect the planet, the continental plates hit each other, churning lava boils in the centre of the earth, occasionally erupting from volcanoes here and there, magnetic or even thermo-nuclear storms rage on our Sun. Numerous attempts to uncover the mystery of Nature have all failed, but that hasn’t deterred the human mind. Thinking still goes on as nothing can stop its flow… From times immemorial gunpowder was used for fireworks in China. Roger Bacon, the English inventor, used the same gunpowder for firearms. The application was soon extended to cannons, grenades, machineguns… There was no stopping scientists: more and more new destructive armament followed, designed to kill humans.
I’M NOT SURE IF WE SHOULD BE GLAD OR SAD THAT OIL DEPOSITS DEEP DOWN ARE DWINDLING. IN THE MEANTIME, WE HAPPILY DRIVE AROUND IN OUR CARS, FLY IN PLANES AND BREATHE TOXIC GASES AS WE DO SO…
A musician – a violinist or a pianist – has to practise every single day otherwise it’s impossible to achieve success. A mathematician who isn’t involved in solving problems on a daily basis cannot be called one. This is precisely the reason I don’t attribute myself to the profession. However, very often, while working on the skeleton of a new film, I instinctively revert to the methods embedded in my brain as a result of the mathematical problem-solving exercise of my earlier days.
Shooting “Gardens in Autumn”
In the ancient and medieval times it was a spear and sword that people used against each other, which presupposed valiance and certain martial skills.
The essence and logic of war haven’t changed since then: whenever a victorious army marches into a conquered country, city or village, violence, pillage, looting and destruction ensue. It happened to the Incas, Aztecs, Troy, Rome, Athens, Alexandria, Constantinople and our country – much too often. The difference is that today a soldier sitting in the comfort and safety of a bunker is an IT specialist who, with a single push of a button, can send missiles huge distances. And there, over the heads of an unsuspecting peaceful population they explode or drop down on them… like in Nagasaki. Our generation has witnessed extraordinary discoveries and inventions in the 20th century, but for some obscure reason the dedicated toil of scientists in the name of the human good has brought us to a catastrophe. And you cannot blame them: blinded by the attraction of a problem at hand, a scientist is unable to drag himself from the object of his inspiration, just like a bee from honey. In his oblivion, he has no means or time to imagine who will find a new application of his discovery and with what intention.
Interview Scene from “Monday Morning” Shooting “Chatrapas”
Let’s consider Sakharov – an outstanding, unyielding dissident fighting against the Soviet system. Initially, he supplied that very system with an H-bomb, which extended its life for another twenty years. It’s only fair to say that later Sakharov deeply regretted his contribution, but it was immaterial compared to the damage inflicted by his discovery. Another noteworthy fact is that it happened only about ten or eleven years after the Hiroshima tragedy. Khrushchev wrote: ‘Sakharov begged me not to test the bomb, but I said that as the Head of the State I was obliged to test his discovery. I also told him he could have slept peacefully if he hadn’t invented the disastrous thing.’
merized by the flickering screen, brainwashed by the cynical blabber, taking in every single word as if it were a revelation – total, absolute bliss! In discussing progress, we should remember that there is no such thing in arts, hasn’t been for many centuries. Indian Vedas, Gilgamesh, Homer, Sophocles, Goethe, Tolstoy, Hugo, Baratashvili or Galaktion – this is literature and nothing has changed in this respect! I don’t even want to mention painting and its technique: it hasn’t been affected in the least by progress. It has remained the same. But isn’t cinema the result of technical progress?
What we refer to as progress (electric and internal combustion engines, locomotive, cars, planes, etc.) started at the end of the 19th century, or to put it more precisely, befell us. However, its roots are to be sought in Leonardo da Vinci’s times.
Cinema was created for purely commercial purposes and that’s the way it exists today – exactly along the lines it was designed initially. Has it gone back to its primary form?
That’s in line with the human nature – mankind seems unable to stop until it blows the entire planet, our wretched home. Probably, the same will be built on the ruins, ad infinitum, as they say… That’s how I thought of making a film about naïve, kind and stubborn chantrapas. So, you think that the benefit to mankind brought by progress has lost its significance? Plenty of things can be considered beneficial and progressive. The same has been happening from the beginning: every new generation naturally and unthinkingly makes use of novelties, taking them for granted. Not knowing how it was before its time, the new generation doesn’t even think of assessing or differentiating a true acquisition from a loss. Did Dante, Rustaveli and Pushkin make poor use of an inkpot and a quill pen? And what progress has a fountain or ball pen brought us? Our handwriting deteriorated to the extent that a typewriter was invented. The heirloom from restive physicists Graham Bell and Marconi are the telephone and the radio. The self-taught, diligent American Thomas Edison showered us with the hitherto unseen, extraordinary inventions without which contemporary life would be absolutely unimaginable. I can list only a few of them: wolfram bulbs, telegraph, gramophone and Kinetoscope – the ancestor of all modern film projectors and TVs. The outcome is truly heart-melting: we never stop talking on the phone, have given up writing letters – epistolary relationships are firmly left in the past, while we might drop a line or two to send each other a Christmas card, but only occasionally. Exhausted after a hard day, we slouch on our sofas, stare at our TVs, mes-
No getting away from it as cinema was a commercial invention. Having said that, I have to add that there are a handful of directors whose works are labeled as ‘author’s films’. Among them are Dovjenko’s films, Norshteyn’s Hedgehog in the Fog, Giorgi Shengelaia’s Journey of a Young Composer and Pirosmani, Eldar Shengelaia’s The Blue Mountains, Merab Kokochashvili’s The Great Green Valley. These are commonly and, clearly disdainfully, referred to as ‘author’s films’. My deep conviction is that, if a film hasn’t got an author, it cannot be called a film. It just stops being one. It becomes a product of mass manufacturing and, as fit any mass output, all films look alike. Louis Daguerre invented photography, the Lumiere brothers left us the film camera, projector and perforated film. Twenty years later other engineers thought of the ways of adding sound to the film and that completed one stage of development. Not long after that colour film was invented, which was followed by Dolby-stereo sound recording. And only about half a year ago they started demonstrating a 3D virtual reality attraction in cinemas. It won’t be long until smell and possibly even sense of touch are added… Today the film has lost its main quality of combining moving picture with language means, thus turning into a kind of barbaric entertainment. It seems to have fully satisfied the desire and taste of wide public. But what are we going to offer the views who come looking for spiritual sustenance? Nothing much. In the nearest future not a single money-oriented company is going to invest a single penny into the ‘author’s film’. Didn’t Chaplin succeed in combining ‘author’s film’ with pure commerce?
Interview At the time of silent movies, brilliant comic actors such as Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Max Linder failed to show the same commercial aptitude demonstrated by Charlie Chaplin. It’s a well-known fact that, as a commercially-minded person he didn’t trust his talent, intuition and taste, so he used to invite passers-by and closely watch their reaction to the film. He would stubbornly seek mistakes in an episode, sometimes remaking a scene ten or fifteen times, even shoot the entire scene anew until completely confident that his guinea pigs were wriggling with laughter. The approach proved effective as his films were highly successful and, more importantly for him, guaranteed sound income. And one more: Chaplin – an extremely hard-working and, not in the least less significantly, rather wealthy comedian – estimated the potential of creating a homeless, soft-hearted, miserable vagrant. From commercial point of view, such an image for the main character was highly successful considering the social conditions at the time. It’s not particularly surprising for the amazingly talented person we are talking about. His work continues to please our eye and mind even today. So much for how Chaplin’s creativity was paired with practicality. Now I’ll return to your previous question about the progressive nature of cinema as such. I have never been impressed by an army of blood-sucking, money-crazed rogues living off this ‘progressive’ monster. To their deep annoyance, noteworthy films still have their appreciative viewers. Such films are on the verge of extinction, though. I believe they are going to live on as part of mankind’s treasure in the same way as Dante’s poetry, which has withstood centuries, read by many more people than throngs of commuters reading Agatha Christie’s detectives. So, the true value lies with what stands the test of time? I should say so. However, we mustn’t forget that sometime, luckily not very often, tasteless and gaudy stand the same test perfectly well. What would you tell a person coming to Georgia not knowing anything about the country? If I mention Rustaveli, Vazha Pshavela, David Kldiashvili or Galaktion, they won’t understand, that’s why I’d say they’re going to the country where wine originated. For Europeans, the concept of wine is akin to that of culture. I suspect you are often asked if you ascribe yourself to the cinematography of any particular country,
Otar Ioseliani Photo by Zinka Barnovi
whether Georgia or France. Generally speaking, is there such a notion as national traits in cinema? We remember perfectly well where we are coming from. However comfortable a Georgian might feel in foreign lands, he or she can never turn into French, Russian or Dutch.I’ll tell you something else: I’ve tried not to sound exceedingly categorical. During our talk I thought like this, but time passes and I might say different things next time. Our country is endowed with a unique phenomenon – polyphonic singing. Metaphorically speaking, throughout our lives each of us weaves his or her own thread into the multi-coloured pattern of the carpet – our shared reflection.
FASHION AS CONTEMPORARY ART
THEY SAY THAT, IN A WAY, FASHION IS A REFLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY TIMES. THAT’S WHY WHEN TALKING ABOUT FASHION AS A FORM OF ART, WE USUALLY LOOK FOR SOMETHING
PROFOUND – SOMETHING THAT REALLY MOVES US. BEING A PART OF CONTEMPORARY ART, THE FASHION OF TODAY HAS CERTAINLY FORESAKEN THE BOUNDARIES SET FOR IT. THE SHOWS OF MODERN
DESIGNERS ARE MORE LIKE PERFORMANCES, WHILE THE OUTWARD FORMS AND SHAPES ECHO THE ESSENCE. NINO CHUBINASHVILI’S WORKS ARE INVARIABLY OUTSTANDING, 120
REFLECTING HER UNIQUE STYLE AND ORIGINAL TECHNIQUE. NINO’S SILHOUETTES LOOK LIKE SCULPTURES AND HER ACCESSORIES BEAR THE DETAILS OF THOSE SCULPTURES. WHETHER January-February
LEATHER OR FABRIC, HER WORKS ARE DISTINCT IN THEIR CHARACTER, BLENDING WITH THE URBAN SPACE, JUST LIKE STATUES.
TRAIN TO HAPPINESS
Wolves , 2008 Trip in Monte Carlo, 2005 Present Time, 2010 Apple, 2010\ Nail, 2010 White Plain, 2010 Motorbike, 2010
GALLERY Bicyclist, 2008 Train to Happiness, 2009
Tamada Irina Enchmen
The 2006 archaeological excavations of Vani yielded a male figurine, which is dated from the 7th millennium BC. The man is holding a ‘kantsi’ (a wine-drinking vessel made from a bull’s horn). This finding is yet further proof that the Georgian tradition of wine-drinking and feasting has existed from time immemorial. It is noteworthy that the drinking horn continues to be the most important symbolic object for the contemporary ‘tamada’ (toastmaster). For this very reason, the figurine has been popularly referred to as the tamada in an affectionate way. A copy, many times larger than the original, can now be found on Chardin Street, in the old part of Tbilisi, while the real ‘tamada’ is displayed in the Archaeological Museum of Vani.
hat makes Georgian cuisine so special is that the recipes aren’t just old, traditional and national, but they are ancient. I mean, the cuisine hasn’t changed since the times of Argonauts. These people discovered a most original way of cooking that was so perfect they didn’t need to change anything about it. Ever! Moreover, Georgians have never had a high cuisine – the kinds of exquisite dishes for royalty and aristocracy like nearly everywhere else in the world. Both common people and nobility ate nearly the same dishes as each other. By being so strict and orthodox in this regard, they have created the most democratic cuisine in the world, accessible to all levels of society. But the “main course” is certainly the Georgians themselves, when they get together to enjoy food their wives, mothers and/or sisters have prepared, not to mention the fabulous Georgian wine, offered by the host. This, however, is where you can forget about such a notion as democracy. As soon as the guests sit down at the table they become members of a small secret society where each person knows what to do and what to say. First of all, they elect “by voting” the chairman of the meeting- the “tamada.” From this moment on it is he
who takes the whole responsibility upon himself to carry out the meeting. One of my friends used to say that a “table without a “tamada” is a like ship without a captain.” In a sense he was right since the “tamada” conducts the entire process like an officer. He proposes toasts, takes care of the guests and looks after the order of “the ship.” The guests must follow and obey everything he commands. For example, you must always support the toasts he proposes and have no right to deviate from what he has said. No way! You are allowed only to add something, just a word or two, but no more! Not even foreign guests can disobey the “tamada.” The “members of the society” will explain the code - in their very polite way - that you can’t do whatever you want at the table, you have to agree with all the “tamada’s” words and requests. To make a long story short, this is also an ancient ritual which has been passed to us from father to son throughout centuries. People who get together even at a contemporary Georgian feast do so not just to eat and drink, but to express their respect and love for each other – they are part of their history and culture. And what’s more, it’s a kind of powerful instrument, a way to support national optimism. The history of Georgia was so dramatic that our wise ancestors discovered how to survive just by meeting, sitting down at a table, saying genial words to each other, eating sumptuous food, drinking hearty wine, and singing a good song or two together.
MAKING NO SECRET OF HIS MAGIC
Fillet of Trout in Pomegranate Sauce Mr. Tengiz is a chef in one of the most popular tbilisi restaurants, but he is not just a great cookhe cooks magical dishes. Magical, because you can never guess why they are so tasty. Unlike other cooks he is always ready to reveal his secrets; his own “know-how.” He even gives master classes and willingly shares his experiences with others. As for his experience, he is a real cooking star and has won lots of prizes and medals, including a cooking “Oscar.” He is truly a “Mr. know-it-all” of Georgian cuisine and could tell us a lot about it, but he knows certainly that any attempt to describe Georgian cuisine is just a waste of time because the words “delicious,” “healthy,” and “unique” are merely words. Like all other national cuisines, the best way to understand it is to taste them in their birthplace.
Ingredients: Trout fillet – 1. Pomegranate sauce – 150 gr. Flour – 20gr. Salt – 10gr. Onion – 30gr. Corn oil – 30gr. Cognac – 20gr. Starch – 5gr. Dill – sprig. (Garnish – black olives, lemon, cucumber) Sprinkle salt on the trout, roll in flour and fry at medium heat until brown on each side (5-10 min). Pomegranate sauce: Sauté finely chopped onion in corn oil in high heat until onion is clear. Add cognac. The cognac should flame (if not, light it). When the alcohol burns off, add the pomegranate sauce. Salt, pepper, sugar to taste. Thicken with a roux of corn starch and cold water. Finish with chopped dill.
Pour sauce over trout and serve on a plate garnished with fresh black olives and thin slices of lemon and cucumber.
Tbilisi , 8/10 Erekle II St. , Tel: 93 89 14
AKHMETELI Tbilisi , “Akhmeteli”
Subway Station , Tel: 58 66 69
Tbilisi , 27 Atoneli St. Tel: 93 14 18
GEORGIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM - PICTURE GALLERY
Tbilisi , 36 Kostava St. , Tel: 99 99 55, Fax: 93 38 71
Tbilisi , 11 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 98 48 14
CACHE - CINEMA CLUB
Tbilisi , 18 Nikoladze St. , Tel: 25 05 80
CACHE - CINEMA CLUB
Tbilisi , 9 Kiacheli St. , Tel: 99 05 51, (99) 44 08 18
Tbilisi , 64 Paliashvili St. , Tel: (90) 22 64 64
Tbilisi, 44 Chavchavadze Ave., Tel: 29 25 34; (97) 90 14 94
Tbilisi, 5 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 92 03 57, 92 02 85, Fax: 55 50 00
Tbilisi, 2/9 Guramishvili Ave., Tel: 69 66 47; 69 66 51
Tbilisi , 10 Abashidze St. , Tel: 23 21 07; 14 36 24
Tbilisi , 8 Chanturia St. Tel: 98 98 89, (99) 56 99 71
KARVASLA’S EXHIBITION HALL
Tbilisi , 8 Sioni St. , Tel: 92 32 27
Tbilisi , 7 Zubalashvilebi St. , Tel: 99 99 02, Fax: 99 99 02
LA MAISON BLEUE - TEXTILE ART STUDIO
Tbilisi , 94 Barnov St. , Tel: 23 21 16; (93) 30 70 29
ART AND ANTIQUE SALON
Tbilisi , 30 Leselidze St. , Tel: 92 05 76
ART GALLERY LINE
Tbilisi , 7 Bambis Rigi; 44 Leselidze St.; Airport, “primeclass” CIP lounges Tel: 50 85 80, Fax: 50 85 80
Tbilisi , 10 Chardin St. Tel: 75 45 10; (99) 50 53 02
Tbilisi , 11 Rkinis Rigi , Tel: 72 48 72; (93) 31 92 66
Tbilisi , 13 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 99 09 25
Tbilisi , 9 Griboedov St. Tel: 51 43 87, (99) 46 32 72
Tbilisi , 11 Taktakishvili St. , Tel: 25 23 34
ORNAMENT - ENAMEL GALLERY
Estonia - embassy
Tbilisi , 7 Erekle II St. , Tel: 93 64 12, Fax: 98 90 13
Tbilisi , 4 Likhauri lane Tel: 36 51 22, Fax: 36 51 38
PHOKANI - GALLERY OF PHOKA ST. NINO NUNNERY
Federal Republic of Germany - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 7 Bambis rigi , Tel: 43 90 47; (99) 97 60 51
Tbilisi , 34 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: (99) 73 17 30
RUSUDAN PETVIASHVILI`S GALLERY
Tbilisi , 103 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 95 28 20, (99) 50 20 80, Fax: 95 17 13
Tbilisi , 6 Erekle II St. , Tel: 98 98 56
Tbilisi , 20 Telavi St. , Tel: 44 73 00, Fax: 44 73 64
GREECE REPUBLIC - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 37d T. Tabidze St. Tel: 91 49 70, 91 49 71, 91 49 72, Fax: 95 49 78, 91 49 80
IRAN ISLAMIC REPUBLIC EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 80 Chavchavadze Ave. , Tel: 91 36 56, 91 36 57, 91 36 58, Fax: 91 36 28
IRAq REPUBLIC - EMBASSY
People’s Republic of China - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 52 Barnov St. , Tel: 25 26 70 (+2601)
Philippines - honorary consulate
Republic of Armenia EMBASSY
CHINESE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC EMBASSY,
Tbilisi , 12a Kips hidze St. Tel: 25 39 61, Fax: 25 11 86
CZECH REPUBLIC - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 37 Chavchavadze Ave., b. 6 , Tel: 91 67 40, 91 67 41, 91 67 42, Fax: 91 67 44
Estonia - embassy
Tbilisi , 4 Tetelashvili St. Tel: 95 17 23, 95 94 43, Fax: 96 42 87
Japan - embassy
Republic of Azerbaijan EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 7d Krtsanisi St. Tel: 75 21 11, Fax: 75 21 12
kingdom of the Netherlands - embassy
Tbilisi , 20 Telavi St. , Tel: 27 62 00, Fax: 27 62 32
Federal Republic of Germany - EMBASSY
Kingdom of Denmark honorary consulate
Tbilisi , 20 Telavi St. , Tel: 44 73 00, Fax: 44 73 64
GREECE REPUBLIC EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 37d T. Tabidze St. Tel: 91 49 70, 91 49 71, 91 49 72, Fax: 95 49 78, 91 49 80 http://www. greekembassy.ge
Fax: 29 25 49
Tbilisi , 3a Chitadze St. Tel: 99 64 18, Fax: 99 64 15
Tbilisi , 12 T. Tabidze St Tel: 55 03 20, Fax: 25 12 26
Tbilisi , 5 Janashia St. , Tel: 23 37 56, (99) 51 68 42, Fax: 23 37 56
Fax: 29 35 53
Italian Republic EMBASSY
EU MONITORING MISSION
NEWKAZ - TOURISM DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
Tbilisi , 20 Abasheli St. Tel: 29 09 79,
Tbilisi , 9 Takaishvili St. Tel: 22 45 44,
Tbilisi , 49 Krtsanisi , Tel: 24 37 18, 24 37 10
Tbilisi , 15 G. Akhvlediani St. , Tel: 92 00 53, (99) 90 33 09
norway honorary consulate
Tbilisi , 17/6 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 91 00 24
MODERN ART GALLERY
N GALLERY AND SANDRO ANTADZE
Tbilisi , 25 Abuladze St. Tel: 91 29 33, 25 81 00, Fax: 22 17 93
Tbilisi , 16 Kobuleti St , Tel: 91 35 96, 23 45 01, Fax: 29 45 03
Tbilisi , 3 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 98 21 33, Fax: 98 21 33
lithuania republic embassy
Tbilisi , 4 Likhauri lane \Tel: 36 51 22, Fax: 36 51 38
Tbilisi , 30/2 Leselidze St. Tel: 99 88 72; (97) 74 33 00
latvia republic - embassy
Tbilisi , 4 Odessa St. , Tel: 24 48 58, Fax: 38 14 06
Kingdom of Sweden EMBassy
Tbilisi , 7 N. Nikoladze St. Tel: 99 81 15, (77) 74 40 01, Fax: 92 35 33
Kingdom of Belgium honorary consulate
Tbilisi , 24 Kazbegi Ave. Tel: 46 52 00, Fax: 46 52 00
Tbilisi , Kipshidze St., q. 2, b. q , Tel: 25 35 26, 25 35 27, 25 26 39 Fax: 25 00 13
Republic of Bulgaria embassy
Tbilisi , 61 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 91 01 94, 91 01 95, Fax: 91 02 70
REPUBLIC OF FRANCE EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 15 Gogebashvili St. , Tel: 99 99 76, 93 42 10, Fax: 95 33 75
REPUBLIC OF HUNGARY EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 83 Lvovi St. , Tel: 39 90 08, Fax: 39 90 04
Republic of Kazakhstan embassy
Tbilisi , 23 Shatberashvili St. , Tel: 99 76 84, Fax: 29 24 24
GUIDE Republic of Poland EMBASSY
VATICAN (the holy see)
Tbilisi , 19 Zubalashvili Brothers St. , Tel: 92 03 98, Fax: 92 03 97
Tbilisi , Nutsubidze plateau 2 m/d, 40 Zhgenti St. , Tel: 53 76 01, 53 76 04, Fax: 53 67 04
Republic of Turkey EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 35 Chavchavadze Ave. , Tel: 25 20 72, Fax: 22 06 66
Tbilisi , 23 Amagleba St. ,
ROMANIA - EMBASSY
Tel.: 99 57 88
Tbilisi , 7 Lvov St. , Tel: 38 53 10, Fax: 38 52 10
RUSSIAN FEDERATION (Russian federation interests section at the Embassy of Switzerland)
Tbilisi , 51 Chavchavadze Ave. , Tel: 91 26 45, 91 24 06, Fax: 91 27 38
SAN-MARINO honorary CONSULATE
Tbilisi , 39a Chavchavadze Ave. , Tel: 23 00 72, 29 22 19, Fax: 91 27 41
SPAIN honorary CONSULATE
Tbilisi , 29 I. Abashidze St. , Tel: 35 58 35 ???????????
State of Israel - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 61 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 95 17 09, 94 27 05, Fax: 95 52 09
Swiss Confederation embassy
Tbilisi , 11 Krtsanisi St. , Tel: 75 30 01, 75 30 02, Fax: 75 30 06
UKRAINE - EMBASSY
Tbilisi , 75 Oniashvili St. Tel: 31 11 61, Fax: 31 11 81
united kingdom of GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHern IRELAND - EMBASSY
Animation Toy`s Museum
Tbilisi , Agmashenebeli Alley , Tel: 52 13 05
Tbilisi , 2 Dolidze St. , Tel: 36 57 23, 36 57 20
Tbilisi , 22 Chubinashvili St. , Tel: 95 02 60
Tel: 95 19 00; 95 86 98
Tbilisi , 76 Chavchavadze Ave. , Tel: 22 51 33
Tbilisi , 6 Kargareteli St.
State Silk Museum Tbilisi
6 Tsabadze St. ,
Tel: 34 09 67, 34 09 63 Fax: 34 09 67
Tbilisi Z.Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre’s
Museum Tbilisi , 25 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 93 37 43
Tbilisi , 45 Kostava St. , Tel: (91) 68 88 00
Tbilisi , 37 Kostava St. , Tel: (58) 40 50 20
Tbilisi , 8 Marjanishvili St. Tel: 94 00 76
Tbilisi , 17 Shavteli St. , Tel: 99 53 37, 99 65 11
D. Baazov Georgian Jewish Historical Ethnographical Museum
Tbilisi , 27/1 Leselidze St. Tel: 98 92 89
Vakhtang Chabukiani Museum
Tbilisi , 13 Shavteli St. , Tel: 99 66 83, Fax: 92 24 96
Tbilisi , 3 Anton Catholicos St. , Tel: 98 59 92; 98 90 62
Dendrologic Museum (BOTANIC GARDEN
Tbilisi , 1 Botanikuri St. Tel: 72 11 85, Fax: 72 34 09
E. Akhvlediani HouseMuseum
Tbilisi , 12 Kiacheli St. Tel: 99 74 12
Folk and Applied Arts Museum
Tbilisi , 28 Sh. Dadiani St. Tel: 99 97 22, 99 61 52
George Chitaia The Open Air Ethnographical Museum
Tbilisi , Kus tba highway 1 , Tel: 72 90 46
Georgian Folk Songs and Instruments’ Museu
USA - EMBASSY
Georgian National Museum
Georgian Olympic Museum
Tbilisi , 88 I. Javakhishvili St. , Tel: 34 74 79; 91 01 92
Cinema Historical Museum
Tbilisi , 6 Samgebro St. Tel: 45 77 20, 45 77 21
Tbilisi , 11 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 98 48 14
State Museum of Theatre, Museum and Cinema
Tbilisi , 12 Ru staveli Ave. Tel: 98 38 03, (93) 22 20 60
Tbilisi , 4 Freedom Sq. Tel: 27 47 47, Fax: 27 47 92
Tbilisi , 11 Balanchini St. Tel: 27 70 00, Fax: 27 77 01
Georgian National Museum-Picture Gallery
Tbilisi , 3 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 99 71 76; 98 48 11, Fax: 98 21 33
K.Marjanishvili State Academic Theatre’s Museum
Mirza Fatali Akhundov Azerbaijanian Culture Museum
Tbilisi , 17 Gorgasali St. , Tel: 72 15 71, 75 35 30
Tbilisi , 3/5 Leonidze St. , Tel: 44 24 05, 44 24 06
Niko Pirosmanashvili State Museum
Tbilisi , 29 Pirosmani St. , Tel: 95 86 73
Sh.Amiranashvili State Museum of Arts
Tbilisi , 1 Gudiashvili St. Tel: 99 99 09, Fax: 98 21 33
Sh.Rustaveli Academic Theatre’s Museum
Tbilisi , 17 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 98 40 51
Simon Janashia Georgian Museum
Tbilisi , 3 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 99 80 22 Fax: 98 21 33
Soviet Occupation Museum
Tbilisi , 3 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 99 80 22 Fax: 34 86 51
Tbilisi , 83/23 Agmashenebeli St. , Tel: 95 19 63, Fax: 23 70 25
Tbilisi , 10 Bakradze St. , Tel: 99 81 16
Clubs two Side Party-Club
Tbilisi , 7 Bambis rigi St., reservation: , Tel: 30 30 30
Tbilisi , 22 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: (90) 21 21 21; (95) 21 21 21
Tbilisi , Baratashvili bridge, Mtkvari Right embankment , Tel: 92 30 17, Fax: 92 30 16
Tbilisi , 13 G. Akhvlediani St. , Tel: 92 00 45
Tbilisi , 11 Rkinis rigi , Tel: (77) 22 02 82
Tbilisi , 67 Kostava St. Tel: 33 59 21; (93) 10 60 50
Tbilisi , 116 Tsereteli Ave. Tel: 35 09 57,
35 51 05
Tbilisi , 4 Chardin St. , Tel: (99) 45 74 41; (97) 07 77 29
Tbilisi , 12 Bambis rigi , Tel: 43 99 77, (99) 33 92 29 Tbilisi , 25 Kostava St. , Tel: 92 09 50
Tbilisi , 22 Metechi St., I fl. , Tel: (92) 32 32 32
THEATERS A. GRIBOEDOV RUSSIAN STATE DRAMA THEATRE
Tbilisi , 2 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 93 58 11; 93 18 40, Fax: 93 31 15
Azerbaijanian State thatre
Tbilisi , 1 Gorgasali St. Tel: 72 47 25, 72 35 83
Tbilisi , 8 Merjanishvili St. Tel: 95 35 82
G. MICKELADZE STATE TOY THEATRE
Tbilisi , 103 Agmashenebeli Ave. Tel: 95 69 03, Fax: 95 17 13
G. SHAVGULIDZE THEATRE SAKHIOBA
Tbilisi , 64 Guramishvili Ave. , Tel: 61 84 26, 61 84 13
Tbilisi , Alexandrov garden , Tel: 14 13 77
Tbilisi , 20 Vazha-Pshavela Ave. Tel: 39 32 72, (97) 11 52 63
Tbilisi , 2 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 98 58 21, Fax: 93 31 15
K. MARJANISHVILI STATE ACADEMIC THEATRE
Tbilisi , 8 Marjanishvili St. , Tel: 95 35 82, Fax: 95 40 01
kakha bakuradze movement theatre
Tbilisi , 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. (Mushtaidi) Tel: (99) 56 87 57
KONSTANTINE GAMSAKHURDIA SOKHUMI STATE DRAMA THEATRE
Tbilisi , 11a Leonidze St. Tel: 99 74 27; (99) 57 95 92
M. TUMANISHVILI CINEMA ACTORS THEATRE
Tbilisi , 164 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 35 31 52; 34 28 99; 35 70 13, Fax: 35 01 94
meore sakhli (the second home)
Tbilisi , 60 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 95 78 22
music and dramatic state theatre
Tbilisi , 182 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 34 80 90; 34 79 59, Fax: 34 80 90
nabadi - georgian folklore theatre
Tbilisi , 19 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 98 99 91
nodar dumbadze state children`s theatre
Tbilisi , 99/1 Agmashenebeli Ave. , Tel: 95 50 67; 95 78 74, Fax: 96 32 89
P. ADAMIAN ARMENIAN DRAMATIC THEATRE
Tbilisi , 8 Tsamebuli Ave. , Tel: 74 77 64, 74 76 96
Royal quarter theatre
Tbilisi , 10 Abesadze St. Tel: 92 38 70, Fax: 99 61 71
S. AKHMETELI STATE DRAMATIC THEATRE
TEATRALURI SARDAPI – RUSTAVELI
Tbilisi , 42 Rustaveli Ave. , Tel: 99 95 00
Theatre – veriko
Tbilisi , 16 Anjaparidze St. , Tel: 22 13 38; 99 98 96, Fax: 22 13 38
THEATRE OF PANTOMIME
Tbilisi , 37 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 99 63 14, (77) 41 41 50
theatre on atoneli
Tbilisi , 31 Atoneli St. Tel: 93 32 38
Z. PALIASHVILI TBILISI STATE THEATRE OF OPERA AND BALLET
Tbilisi , 25 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 98 32 48; 98 32 49, Fax: 98 32 48
Batumi, Rustaveli str. 1
Kutaisi, Agmashenebeli square 1
RESTAURANTS, BARS,CAFES Acid Bar-
China Town - Chinese Restaurant –
Dzveli Sakhli –Georgian Restaurant - 3 Sanapiro St. Tbilisi
In the shadow of Metekhi
Kala – Café-
Tbilisi, Telavi str. 20
KGB - Cafe with Soviet Interior
Batumi, Vazha-Pshavela str.2
8/10 Erekle II St. Tbilisi
8/10 King Erekle St. Tbilisi
L’express - French Cafe
14 Chardin St. Tbilisi
Maspindzelo - Sakhinkle
Batumi, E.Ninoshvilis str. 11
Batumi, N. Zhordania str. 31
Cocktail Bar - 11 Erekle II St. Tbilisi 3 Metekhi slope, Tbilisi
Georgian Restaurant Beliashvili St. Tbilisi
SH. RUSTAVELI state THEATRE
Belle De Jour - French
TBILISI STATE MARIONETTE THEATRE
Tbilisi , 26 Shavteli St. , Tel: 98 65 89; 98 65 93, Fax: 98 65 89
31 I. Abashidze St. Tbilisi
Caravan - Literary ArtCafé
10 Purtseladze St. Tbilisi
Chardin 12 Restaurant
on Chardin Street- 12 Chardin St. Tbilisi
Missoni – Lounge,
cuisine- Hero’s Square, Tbilisi
Japanese Restaurant - 29 I. Abashidze St. Tbilisi
Tbilisi , 8 Tetelashvili St.Tel: 96 17 40
Tbilisi, Freedom square 4
Tbilisi, Makashvili str.32/34
Buffet - Italian Cuisine
Tbilsi, Rousen square
Matryoshka – Slavic
Batonebi - American café 64 Paliashvili st. Tbilisi
SOKHUMI CHILDREN’S THEATRE
Tbilsi, 26 May square 1
Tbilisi , 8 I. Vekua St. Tel: 62 61 97; 62 59 73
Bread House- Georgian
Sheraton Metechi Palase
Restaurants Network - 7 Bambis Rigi St. Tbilisi
1 A. Tbileli st. Tbilisi
restaurant-7 Gorgasali St. Tbilisi
Courtyard Marriott –
Tbilsi, Freedom square 4
Salve – French cuisine
Tbilisi , 17 Rustaveli Ave. Tel: 93 65 83; 93 18 94, Fax: 99 63 73
Tbilisi, Rustaveli ave 13
Georgian Restaurant-29 K. Tsamebuli Ave. Tbilisi
16 Chavchavadze Ave; 1 R. 37 Abashidze St; 3/a Al. Kazbegi
Restaurant- 29 I. Abashidze St. Tbilisi
Georgian Restaurant The Right Bank of the R. Mtkvari. Tbilisi
Club-Restaurant - 7 Bambis Rigi St. Tbilisi
Vera Steak House
Intourist Batumi Palace
Telavi, I. Chavchavadze str.154
Signagi, Central square
Svaneti-Mestia, Margiani str.9
Kutaisi, A.Cereteli 2a
Sport Hotel Gudauri
Bakuriani, Didveli (Close to Tatra-puma lift)
American/Georgian Restaurant -37a Kostava St. Tbilisi
Asian Restaurant - 29 I. Abashidze St. Tbilisi January-February
Special Project Photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Archive
A drive along the Georgian Military Highway is not just a hair-raising trip along a 200 kilometer road sliced through the Caucasus Mountains to connect Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz. It is time travel along a route first used by ancient traders and invaders, full of monuments to Georgia’s pre and post Christian past, scars of a Soviet legacy, and the expectation of today’s period of reconstruction, all in a setting evocative of a Shangri-La. Formally known as the Dariali-Aragvi road, the route was first mentioned in the annals of the Greek Geographer Strabo and later by the Roman writer Plinius in the 1st century AD. By the 16th century, however, the mountainous portion of the road fell into such disrepair is was hardly a trail. Construction for today’s road began in 1799, two decades after the signing of the Georgievsk Treaty, which in theory, put Georgia under Russian protection. By 1801, when Georgia was annexed by Russia, Tsar Alexander I put the notorious general of the Caucasus armies,
Aleksey Yermolov, in charge of building the road to facilitate troop movement and communications. One chronicler wrote how it was necessary to tie workers to ropes and hang them over precipices to cut the road into the mountains. Yermolov declared completion of the road in 1817, although work continued until 1863. Besides playing an important role in the economic development of Transcaucasia and in the RussianCircassian War, the road had a cultural impact as well. At different periods, it became the source of inspiration for Pushkin, Lermontov, Griboedov, Mayakovski and the other famous writers. The 19th century Georgian students who had traveled the road and crossed the Tergi river border into Russia to go to university were known as “The Tergdaleulis” (literally: “having drunk from the river Tergi”) and would play a significant role in the reaffirming the Georgian nation.
Special Project Photo by Beso Khaindrava Panorama of Mzheta Photo by Shalva Lejava Mzheta “salobie” Georgian National Archive Georgian Road National Archive
The Monastery of Jvari. As you leave Tbilisi on the GMH, the first thing you will notice is the Avchala hydro-electric scheme (ZAHES), the first hydro-electric station in TransCaucasus, which was built in 1927 and lit the first electric light bulb in Tbilisi. Further along you will see a church on the east side of the Mtkvari river, high on top of a modest mountain, overlooking the union of the Aragvi and Mtkvari rivers and the city of Mtsketa, one of Georgia’s oldest settlements. This is the Jvari monastery, or ‘’Monastery of the Cross.’’ It was here that St.Nino, who converted King Mariam III to Christianity in the 4th century, erected a larger wooden cross on the site of a pagan temple. This cross was believed to work miracles and attracted pilgrims from all over the Caucasus. In the 6th century a small church was built over the remnants of the cross. 45 years later, Prince Erismtavari Stepanoz I began construction of a larger church on this site, which was completed in 605. Perhaps because it is impossible for travelers not to notice this church, it has been where people come to pray for safe traveling since its early days.
Svetizhoveli Cherch photo by Beso Khaindrava Close view on the architectural Complex of Ananuri Poto The architectural Complex of Ananuri Poto
The Cathedral of Svetitskhoveli In the center of Mtskheta is the most venerated cathedral in Georgia, known as Svetskhioveli (literally, “the Living Pillar Cathedral”). Although the cathedral we see today was built in the 11th century, the site itself goes back to the 4th and is surrounded by many mystical legends. One tale is of a Jew named Elizor, who had witnessed Christ’s cruxifiction and had bought The Messiah’s shroud from a Roman soldier on Golgatha and brought it home to Mtskheta. When Elizor’s sister Sydonia touched the shroud, she suddenly died from intense emotion. Nobody could remove the shroud from her grasp, so they were buried together. A huge cedar tree grew on her grave. King Miriam III, who had just been converted and proclaimed Christianity as a State religion, built a church in this very spot. St. Nino ordered the tree cut down and that seven pillars be made for church’s foundation, but the 7th pillar refused to be set and floated in the air. Only after St. Nino prayed all night would it return to earth,
where it emitted a sweet smell and a liquid that cured all diseases. This was called “Sveti Tskhoveli,” which literally means “The Pillar that Gives Life” About 100 years later, King Vakhtang Gorgasali, ordered a stone basilica type of church built over the wooden one. Fragments of this old stone church are preserved in the western portion of today’s cathedral, which was built by an architect named Arsukidze, under the order of Katholikos Mekisedek. On the northern wall is a sculptured arm holding a tool with an inscription: “The arm of the bondsman Arsukidze, forgive him.” Apparently, the architect’s right arm was cut off because Svetitskhoveli was supposed to be the only church. Many Georgian kings are buried here, such as Vakhtang Gorgasali who discovered Tbilisi, as well as Georgia’s last kings Erekle II and Giorgi XII, in addition to other members of the royal family of Bagrationi.
Ananuri The architectural complex of Ananuri is is a pair of fortresses and two churches enclosed by a curtain wall and one of the finest monuments of Georgia’s late Feudal period (16th-17th c.) The smaller Church of the Virgin is early 17th century. It was once a castle belonging to the feudal dynasty of Aragvi, which ruled the area from the 13th century. From then on, the castle continued to get sacked. In 1739, it was razed and the Aragvi clan was massacred by the rival clan of Shamshe of Ksani. Four years later, local peasants revolted against Shamshe and killed him. They invited King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. In 1786, the Khan of Dagestan devastated Ananuri territory, which was “a small town” of 100 families. The violent pattern would continue until the 19th century when Russian troops burned Ananuri down following the insurrection of 1812. In rare peaceful times, trade flourished due to Ananuri’s location; the Royal customs even existed here. Between 1803-1821 it was a regional center where crockery and broadcloth production was developed. In the second half of the 18th century, there was a Royal dye-house here.
LOMISA “May Lomisa’s grace help you.” The people of Mtiuleti have traditionally blessed both locals and guests with these words, for here in the Aragvi Gorge, people still believe that pagan Lomisa can work miracles. On the seventh Sunday after Easter, the Lomisoba celebration is held, where people of Mtiuleti feast and engage in old rituals like flag chanting in the mountains. Lomisa is a pagan warrior on horseback that defeats evil forces with his whip. The legend of Lomisa, whose origins go back to the Bronze Age, has been passed down the generations for centuries. Later, this pagan idol was integrated into Christianity and took the form of St. George, in Mtiuleti. The image of Christian Lomisa is synonymous with the icon St. George of Gzovani, who rescued 7000 prisoners from Khorasan. The icon was placed on bull’s horns and resides on Mt. Mleti. Before St. George rescued the prisoners in Khorasan, “The earth was fruitless, people and cattle became barren.” Therefore, the people of Mtiuleti continue to take barren women to the church during Lomisoba in the belief the curse will be lifted from them.
Photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Archive
Gudauri Gudauri is a ski resort that was first built in the 1980s and continues to expand today. It is only about two hours away by car from Tbilisi and is considered to be the highest populated point on the GMH, at 2,196 meters (7,200 ft.) from sea level. Gudauriâ€™s slopes are all above tree line. The first, lower lift station is at 1,990 m (6500 ft.) and the last, top station is at 3,306 m (10800 ft.), called Sadzele. In sunny weather the Caucasus and Mt. Kazbegi can be clearly seen. Heliskiing is one of Gudauriâ€™s most distinctive offerings and it provides skiers with access to some of the finest powder-snow in the Caucasus. Helicopters grant virtually unrestricted access to local mountains and some of the most sublime runs in Europe, at altitudes that reach as high as 4,200 m (13,800 ft.).
Stone Frame photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Archive Gudauri photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Archive Gudauri Photo by Evgeni Chachua
Stone of Ermolov Photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Archive Gudauri Post office Photo by Dmitri Ermakov late 1800s and early 1900s Georgian National Obelisk Photo by Vittorio Ronketti CIA, Milan office
Jvari Pass Up along the Jvari Pass you may see what looks like nomadic camps surrounded by many beehives, as apiculture, along with cattle-breeding and potato cultivation is how most of the locals sustain themselves. The top of Jvari Pass is 2,395 meters (7,850 ft.) high, information that is carved into a small obelisk, courtesy of General Yermolov, who put it up in 1824. There used to be a shelter and wooden cross next to todayâ€™s highway, with a bell was also hanging from it. This helped travelers find their way if they got lost in the mist.
Mt. Kazbegi and Stepantsminda At 5,047 meters, Kazbegi is the third highest mountain in Georgia (after Mount Shkhara and Janga) and the seventh highest peak in the Caucasus Mountains. Georgiaâ€™s historical significance is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Kazbegi is the mountain Zeus chained Prometheus to for giving fire to man.
THE CHURCH OF GERGETI TRINITY Near the foot of Mt. Kazbegi at an altitude of 2,200 m (7,200 ft.) is the Gergeti Trinity Church, built in the 14th century. The dramatic nature of the setting and the church’s unique cross-cupola design has made it a symbol for Georgia. In times of danger, precious relics from Mtskheta, including Saint Nino’s Cross were brought here for safekeeping. “The Memoir of the Spirits,” a respected collection of Georgian historical documents, was written here also. During the Soviet era, all religious services were prohibited, but the church remained a popular tourist destination. The church is a popular spot for trekkers in the area, and can be reached by a steep 3 hour climb up the mountain, or around 30 minutes by jeep up a rough mountain trail. But visitors to the church should be aware of the proper dress code and respect the tenets of the church. The town of Kazbegi is called Stepantsminda today. There is one comfortable hotel and several humble homestays available cheaply. Kazbegi is ideal for people interested in simply relaxing or engaging in outdoor activities like trekking or horseback riding as the town is very quiet and sleepy.
THE GATE OF DARIALI North of Stepantsminda, the GMH hugs the Terek river as the valley become narrower and turns into a steep gorge. In this region, Georgians of long ago built a gate to ostensibly keep invaders away. The Roman writer Plinius, (AD 23 – 79), who traveled this region wrote, “The gate of the Caucasus represents a vast natural “creature”, the result of a sudden rupture of the mountains. The passage is secured with logs of wood reinforced with iron. The fortress of Kumania was built across the river in order to block the numerous tribes.” To help make this gate impenetrable, Georgians built fortresses all over the gorge. According to the 11th century chronicler, Juansher, King Vakhtang Gorgasali made a gate called Dariali, built high forts over it, and appointed the mountain people as sentries to control the passage of Khivchags and Ossets. King George XII of Georgia, who ruled briefly from 1798 until his death in 1800, once thought about breaking off the relationship with Russia by locking the Gate of Dariali, but changed his mind. For now, the gate remains shut, as the customs officials at the Larsi checkpoint will tell you. But as we know from the history of this road, nothings last forever except the legends of an unbelievable past.
The Church of Gergeti Trinity photo by Beso Khaindrava
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