Georgia recently made world headlines with the startling discovery of the 1.8 million year old Dmanisi hominoids in the hills just south of Tbilisi. Providing the missing link in human evolution between Africa and Europe, it enables us to claim the first outbound tourists from Europe. You may visit the site where they were found and are exhibited and see. Remains of a 1.8 million year old hominid were discovered in Georgia.
Georgian is spoken by approximately four million people, mainly in Georgia where it is the official language. Approximately 98% of the population speaks Georgian as their first language.
The Georgian alphabet has its own independent place among the 14 existing alphabets known to the world. The oldest known inscriptions date from the beginning of the 5th century. The writing has undergone considerable changes since then.
One Of The Oldest Christian Countries
Here a long tradition of religious tolerance unites people instead of dividing them. Throughout all its history, strangers of all faiths have always been welcomed in Georgia. Living in the mountains and on the borders of so many civilizations, one begins to appreciate the mysteriousity of life.
Of course, the primary religion here is Christian as it has been since IV century. The Georgian Orthodox Church is deep in the nation’s soul, fundamental to its history, an indisputable part of its future.
You can really feel the spirit of Georgian history in its churches. They can be perched high up in the Greater Caucasus, like Gergeti Church near Mt. Kazbegi, or carved into sandstone hillsides, as in Vardzia or David Gareji. Their walls are usually covered in frescos and frequently resound with the sounds of our polyphonic choirs.
Stand in Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral on a Sunday morning and experience the sounds of a religious tradition spanning nearly two thousand years. Visit the splendid Gelati complex near Kutaisi and see a large cathedral covered from its floor to cupola-top with magnificent frescos and mosaics. Wind your way up into the remote mountain valleys of Svaneti and encounter superb XII century frescos in the most far-flung churches, as well as several museums packed with elegant icons and treasures.
Cradle Of Wine
Georgia is unquestionably the birthplace of wine. Grape seeds have been found in Caucasian tombs 8000 years ago, along with wine implements such as clay vessels. Nowhere else in the world is the evidence of viniculture so old.
Indeed the word “wine” is traced to Georgian word “ghvino”, which has been in use for much longer than most modern languages have existed. Probably there is no country where wine is more revered and a wine culture so developed and cherished. There are about 500 indigenous species of grape (most used for wine) far more than anywhere else, most of them still completely unknown to the rest of the world. Here you can taste unique varieties of wine in a vast array of subtle flavor differences.Nowadays wine is still produced exactly the same way it was before. Grapes are placed in large earthenware vessels called ‘qvevri,’ large enough to fit a person inside, buried in the ground up to their necks. These special wine vaults are then sealed and left to fermentation for three or four months. It makes wine rich on tannin and vitamins, completely organic and distinctively flavorful.Georgian wine is so pure and untainted by artificial ingredients (such as sulphites), that hangover is practically unknown by those who drink it properly.Visit any home in the wine-growing region of Kakheti and be greeted at the door by a glass of traditionally made home-produced wine – a tradition dating back at least three thousand years, and a delight to any traveler. Make sure you try homemade white wines, or chacha!Georgia’s moderate climate and moist air, influenced by the Black Sea, provide the ideal conditions for wine culturing. Names like Saperavi, Mukuzani, Teliani are becoming increasingly familiar to wine connoisseurs around the world. We are more than proud to show off the process that takes these fine grapes from vine to bottle – and then of course, to the table.We treasure our wine and our wine traditions over all else – and invite you to taste the fruit of our labor for yourself. Short Wine List:
Rkatsiteli creates a robust white wine, which is full of character.
Mtsvane is popular as a blending partner for Rkatsiteli but also has its own vital qualities.
Saperavi the primary red variety provides vintages, which are powerful and fiery, with an aroma consisting of plums, spices and almonds. In the regions of Kacheti Kindzmarauli, Khvanchkara and Akhasheni it also acquires a naturally cultivated sweetness.
Hot Springs And Spa Towns
103 spa resorts and over 2400 mineral springs definitely mean that Georgia has been one of the centers of spa life for thousands of years. The location of today’s capital Tbilisi was chosen because of its natural hot sulfur springs. Now, in the very heart of the city you can still visit sulfur baths which were built there long time ago.
Combined with Mediterranean climate and legendary hospitality of the locals, it makes Georgia to a unique travel destination.
Diverse And Untouched Nature
Although Georgia is only 69.700 square kilometers large, its biodiversity is immense: subtropics, marshes, semi-deserts, lofty alpine meadows and mighty snow-covered peaks can be found within a hundred kilometers from each other. There are 14 Strict Nature Reserves, 9 National Parks, 17 Managed Nature Reserves, 14 Natural Monuments and 2 Protected Landscapes in Georgia. Strict nature reserves comprise 141,473 ha, while national parks cover 270,740 ha. So much of Georgia is still untouched and unspoiled!
Europ’s Highest Settlement
Considered to be the most dramatic and impressive region of the entire Caucasus, Svaneti is a very good place for hiking. From the Cross Peak directly above Mestia you can see the magnificent twin peaks of Mt. Ushba (4710 meters), the snow pyramid of Mt. Tetnuldi (4974 meters), the beginnings of Georgia’s highest mountain, Mt. Shkhara (5068 meters), and Mt. Elbrus, Europe’s highest (5642 meters) lurking just behind Ushba. Here you are truly in the heart of the mountains, and the feeling of being here is indescribable.
Ushguli village in Svaneti region, which is situated at 2,300 meter altitude, is the highest settlement in Europe.
Svaneti is known for its superb house-towers, most dating back to the XII-XIII centuries, which spring up from the rocky valley floor like miniature castles. Drive round the corner into Latali village and be struck by the sight of a dozen tall towers reaching into the sky like stone fingers. With such a strong architectural presence it is no surprise that Mestia Museum is a treasure trove of exquisite icons and artifacts gathered from Svaneti’s many remote churches and villages, preserved in this natural mountain fortress from centuries of pillagers.
At The Crossroads Of Europe And Asia
Throughout the XX century, Georgia has been famous as a holiday destination, kind of combination of Switzerland and Riviera for citizens of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. They came for high mountains, sunny beaches and a world-renowned cuisine.
Today Georgia is a country strongly connected to tradition, being a modern, democratic state sharing Western values at the same time. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgia’s beauty is now open to any traveler thirsting for new sights, sounds, smells and culture.
From the Black Sea shore to the soaring peaks of Caucasus, from rich wine valleys of Eastern Georgia and its cave towns to the spa town of Borjomi and cultural delights of Tbilisi, Georgia’s natural beauty is the matter of legend.