Travel information, Geography, History
Svaneti is disposed on the southern part of the Caucasus Mountain Range, where two major rivers – “Enguri” and “Tskhenistskali” begin its flow. Geographically and historically, the province has been divided into two parts—Upper Svaneti (Zemo Svaneti; the present day Mestia Raioni) and Lower Svaneti (Kvemo Svaneti; the present day Lentekhi Raioni) — centering on the valleys of the upper reaches of the two rivers Enguri and Cxenis-c’q’ali, respectively. Surrounded by 3,000–5,000 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 (4,974 m / 16,319 ft), Shota Rustaveli (4,960 m / 16,273 ft), Mount Ushba (4,710 m / 15,453 ft), Ailama (4,525 m / 14,842 ft), as well as Lalveri,Latsga and others.
The Svans, the indigenous population of Svanetia, are ethnic subgroup of the Georgians.
People of Svaneti have specific dialect that is quite different from common Georgian lenguage.
In general, the lowest regions of Svaneti (800–1200 meters / 2624–3936 feet above sea level) are characterized by long, warm summers and relatively cold and snowy winters. Middle altitudes (1200–1800 meters above sea level) experience relatively warm summers and cold winters. Areas above 2000 meters above sea level lie within a zone that experiences short, cool summers (less than 3 months) and long and cold winters. Large parts of Svaneti lie above 3000 meters (9840 feet) above sea level, a zone which does not have a real summer. Due to Svaneti’s close proximity to the Black Sea, the region is spared from the extremely cold winter temperatures that are characteristic of high mountains.
Upper Svaneti has an eight-month winter, with the lowest temperature -32° С and an average of -15° С. Snow can reach two meters. In summer the average temperature is 25° Сduring the day and 7-10° С at night.
Beautiful, wild and mysterious, Svaneti is an ancient land in the Caucasus. Svaneti is an extraordinary and surreal land of towers, snow, craggy peaks, wine, and dancing; where time has not merely stopped, but rather simply never existed.
The entire region is a UNESCO world heritage site. Its center is the village of Mestia.
Svaneti is unique with its well-maintained nature and culture. Due to the complicated geographical location of Svaneti, there still exists untouched medieval architecture of the village. There are ancient castles, towers, crosses, icons, examples of an ancient art and etc. Still now, visitors can see so cold Svanish castles made by stones, where at early times people lived.
The height of those castles is between 20-30meters. These towers were built as protection against invaders and raiders in the 12th-13th centuries. There is nothing else like them anywhere else in the world. The village of Chazhashi, part of a group of villages collectively called Ushguli, located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Upper Svaneti has been preserved as a museum-reserve. Here more than 200 towers have survived. Other towers can be seen in Mestia and the frontier villages, such as Latali.