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Svaneti

N 432.619', E 4243.48'
2012-09-13
Our rating: 8.00
Overall rating:

Nowhere in Georgia have we ever seen such a large number of foreign tourists as in Mestia, the administrative center of Svaneti. This historical mountain region, a home of Svans, has been greatly transformed in recent years. A few years ago only true travelers used to come here, and now, after a modern road was built, tourist traffic has increased tenfold. Many new hotels and a cableway were built.

The tourists are attracted by unique Svan settlements and culture. Unique, because it reached our time in almost perfect condition. Note that the houses and towers were built in the 12-13th century! The towers were designed to show the power and strength of a settlement or a family. The more towers, the stronger is the local lord.

Svan towers of Mestia
Svan towers of Mestia Yuriy Buriak

For millennia, Svaneti was almost separated from the rest of the world. Even the people here looked (and look) different. Therefore, the works of art, weapons, books, buildings etc. are unique in this region. In Mestia, lying at an altitude of 1,400 meters, dozens of old houses and towers have been preserved, making the town a unique place.

The center of Mestia is very beautiful. There is a tourist information office where you can take maps and ask questions.

Center of Mestia
Center of Mestia Yuriy Buriak

We spent 1.5 days in Mestia. During this time we visited the Svan Museum, climbed one of the towers, went by cableway to the top of the mountain and found there lots of mushrooms, which were cooked in the evening :)

Svan house
Svan house Yuriy Buriak


Arches along the walls are for livestock, which was used as living
Arches along the walls are for livestock, which was used as living "radiators" to warm up the house. People slept above them. Yuriy Buriak


Yuriy Buriak


Cableway in Mestia
Cableway in Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Yuriy Buriak


Mushrooms in Mestia
Mushrooms in Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Yuriy Buriak


Top floor of the Svan tower
Top floor of the Svan tower Yuriy Buriak


Climbing the tower
Climbing the tower Yuriy Buriak


On the roof of the tower
On the roof of the tower Yuriy Buriak


On the roof of the tower
On the roof of the tower Yuriy Buriak

It's not possible to make photos of the towers from the center of Mestia. You need to go through the main street in the direction of the airport for about 700 meters. After the bridge, look for a small rise on the right. This is a nice place for pictures. We came here in the morning and evening.

Towers of Mestia
Towers of Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Svan towers of Mestia
Svan towers of Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Mestia
Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Towers of Mestia
Towers of Mestia Yuriy Buriak

There's almost no local transport in Svaneti. It's possible to move between the settlements only on off-road cars. For example, a trip to a distant community Ushguli will cost you from $100.

Architectural monuments of Svaneti are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

More photos of Svaneti:

Mount Ushba
Mount Ushba Yuriy Buriak


Mestia from above
Mestia from above Yuriy Buriak


Mestia
Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Home of the President of Georgia
Home of the President of Georgia Yuriy Buriak


Landscape near Mestia
Landscape near Mestia Yuriy Buriak


Yuriy Buriak


Neighboring community
Neighboring community Yuriy Buriak


Airport named after Queen Tamara
Airport named after Queen Tamara Yuriy Buriak


Mestia from above
Mestia from above Yuriy Buriak


Mestia
Mestia Yuriy Buriak

Useful links:
  - Good website about Svaneti, especially if you plan to stay here for at least 3-4 days. It includes maps of hiking and horse riding trails with detailed descriptions.

Svaneti, the map
Svaneti, the map inmestia.com

Getting there:
1. At first you need to get by minibus to Zugdidi from the Didube bus station in Tbilisi, 5-6 hours and $6-9. You can go by a night train, 6-7 hours, $7-10. Next, take a minibus (5-6 hours, $10-15) or a taxi to Mestia, the buses stand near the train station.

2. There is a direct bus from the Didube station to Mestia, it leaves at 5:30 am, runs for 10-12 hours and cost $16-18. There are also direct buses from the Children's World shop (near the train station), they start running at 6 am.

3. Taxi from Tbilisi costs about $170.

4. Earlier it was possible to fly to Mestia from Tbilisi on a small plane (40 minutes and $41), but as of October 2013 it doesn't fly. The airline office is located at the Tbilisi airport, tickets can be bought only there. For booking and information regarding the airplane, call +995-032-240-00-40. Website of the airline.

Tags, Georgia: mountains, observation deck, ski lift, unusual buildings

Tags, all countries: mountains, observation deck, ski lift, unusual buildings
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