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Nature & Landscape
Ajara with its beautiful Black Sea coast, exotic plants and mild subtropical climate is mentioned in historic sources as "Adjaria canyon" or "Adjaria country", and has been inhabited since New Stone Age. It is filled with all shades of green even in winter. There are two main climatic zones in Adjara - foreland with its sub-tropical zone and the mountainous zone.
The main relief is mountainous. Almost 60% of the region's territory is located at the altitude of more than 1000 m above the sea level. Coastal climate and soils are favorable for tea and citrus growth. There are large tea plantations and citrus production. Some of the region's many natural resources are gold, silver and mineral water springs. The most important monuments are: Gonio fortress, The Church of the Virgin (20th c), the wooden mosque and the Tsikhisdziri fortress.
Borjomi-kharagauli Protected Areas are situated in the central part of Caucasus. This is the region, where the humid climate of Kolkheti Plain meets the dry mountain climate of the Anatoly-North Iran. The soil is mainly composed of tertiary sediments (clay, marls, sandstones) and volcanic materials (andesites, basalt, dolerties), and is
exceedingly rich in tertiary period fossils. Lush gorges and canyons, volcanic plateaus, petrified lava flows, etc. rank the region among dream destinations for travellers (or make the region one of the most beautiful in the country). There are over 200 picturesquely situated historical and cultural monuments. The most notables among them are Timotesubani (10-12th cc), St. Mariam Monastery (9th c) near the village of Likani, St.Mariam Monastery (9th c) near the village of Kvabiskhevi, Nadzvi Monastery (9th c), and abandoned "Cyclopes" settlement, to name just few.
Guria is a province in western Georgia. It occupies territories of the modern Ozurgeti, Chokhatauri and Lanchkhuti regions. Situated mainly at 80m above sea-level, Guria is bordered by Meskheti range from the South-East and the Black Sea from the West. The highest point is peak Sakornia. Guria climate is mainly humid and subtropical and is characterized with warm winter and temperate summer.
Guria's flora is exceedingly rich and distinctive, and counts more than 1 000 different species of plants. There are Bogs and sub-alpine forests, sub-alpine and alpine fields. Among the important Cultural sites are: Likhauri church (15th c), Shemokmedi monastery complex (16-18th c), Gurieli palace (18th c), Djumati monastery (16th c), Askana fortress and church complex (16th c) and Petra (I millenium, BC.)
Imereti province is mentioned in the historical sources as Egrisi, Lazika, Colchis and Abkhazeti. It's situated at 125-300m above the sea-level. Winters here are mild, and summers relatively hot. Upper and lower Imereti is surrounded by the Eastern Likhi Range, the Great Caucasus Range and Meskheti Mountains. To the west of the Likhi Range lies the Rioni Lowland - a land of fertility and
abundance, rich in cool springs, green fields, lush forests and delicate, manicured gardens. Here stands the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Colchis - Kutaisi, now the second biggest city of Georgia. Among the important cultural sites of Imereti are: Ubisi church (9th c), Bagrati cathedral (11th c), Gelati monastery complex (12th c), Motsameta, Vani archaeological site, Geguti (8-13th c), and Ukimerioni fortress ruins.
Iori region is a vast territory stretching from the city Sagarejo and Jandari Lake to the border of Azerbaijan and almost fully includes Iori Plateau situated between rivers Mtkvari and Aragvi, bordered by Alazani Plain and foothills of the Great
Caucasus. The relief is characterized by succession of hills and basins 100-1000 m above sea level. The 3-4 million year old fauna on the ridge of Mt. Khvabebi is declared a natural reserve. There are many historical and cultural monuments in the region; the most remarkable among them is David Gareji Monastery Complex, which includes 14 monastery ensembles cut in stone ("Lavra" -6-19th cc. "Mokhatuli", "Tsamebuli" - 7-8th cc. "Natlismtzemeli", "Dodas Rka" - 6-19th cc. and etc). There are also some other archaeological monuments in the area, among them of certain interest are Stone Age human habitations (of which the oldest is 400 000 years), ancient tombs, barrows, dwellings, iron workshops and etc.
Kakheti - region in eastern Georgia encloses inner and lower flows of the river Iori and the river Alazani. The Gombori range is a natural border between the Outer Kakheti and Inner Kakheti. Picturesque and most fertile part of Kakheti in the north of Alazani Valley borders the Great Caucasus range, with peaks over 3,000 meters, and slopes covered
with horn beam and oak forests changing into sub-alpine and alpine meadows. The Particular parts of Kakheti are called Gare (outer) Kakheti (middle part of the Iori Valley), Kizikhi (lower part of the Iori Valley) and Shida (inner) Kakheti (western part of the Alazani Valley). Winters in Kakheti are cold, but summers may be extremely hot. It's the homeland of grape wine, and ever since ancient times has been the main winemaking province of Georgia. Among its important cultural sites are: Gurdjaani Basilica (8th c), Ninotsminda (6th c), Shuamta Monastery complex (6th, 7th cc), Alaverdi (11th c), Ikalto (12th c), Gremi (15-16th cc) Nekresi architectural complex (5th, 7th, 8th, 9th cc), Bodbe, Kisiskhevi (8-9th cc), Akura (9th c), Khornabuji, Udjarma (5-10th cc).
Kartli region situated in Eastern Georgia. It encloses Tbilisi and vicinities and is often called "the Heart of Georgia". Etymology of the name "Kartli" is not completely clear. Some experts connect it with tribal name - Kartli (kartu) - meaning "a fenced place". It could also derive from the name of the ethnarch Kartlos, who resided in this area in ancient times.
The territory was intensively populated since Bronze Age (beginning of III millennia). In 4-3th cc. BC an early state with class society was created in eastern Georgia with Mtskheta as its center. Very important arterial roads passed through Kartli, among them the famous "Silk Road" - linking Western Europe with India, the "Camel Road" and the "Sleep Road". This region has a dry climate but fertile land with abundance of fruit and vegetables. The landscape varies from lush, dark forests to verdant valleys, cool springs and loud streams. Kartli is rich in important architectural monuments: Betania church (12-13th cc) Uplistsikhe (first half of the I millenium BC), Kintsvisi church (13th c), Tsromi (7th c), Tsugrugasheni (13th c), Bolnisi basilica (6-7th cc), Sioni of Dmanisi (6,13th c) and all sites of Mtskheta and Tbilisi.
Khevi is an area in eastern Georgia perched high (at about 1740 m above sea-level) on the slopes of the Caucasus range. It includes gorges of the rivers Truso, Tergi and Snostskhali. In early medieval times it was called Khevi (gorge) of Tsanareti. Name Khevi means "many inhabitants along the river".
People of Khevi are called Mokheves. In ancient times, a road of a great strategic and military importance was built through Dariali canyon - a 15 km gash in the earth. Today this road is well known as the Georgian Military Highway, which connects Northern Caucasus with Transcaucasus. The landscape is impressive and severe with alpine meadows dotted with yellow rhododendron, mountain passes and waterfalls, and the marvelous snow-capped Mount Mkinvartsveri - an inactive 5047 meter high volcano. Among the important cultural sites of Khevi region are: Gergeti trinity church (14th c), Garbani church (9-10th c), Sioni Basilica (9th c), Betlemi Monastery Complex (9-10th c), and Sno fortress.
Khevsureti is the region in the mountains of eastern Georgia, on the slopes of the Caucasus Range and includes upper reaches of the rivers Arguni and Khevsuretis Aragvi. Khevsureti and its neighbouring mountainous region of Pshavi together were called Pkhovi. The area consists of two parts - Piriketa (outward) and Piraketa (inward) Khevsureti.
They are connected with Arkhoti and Datvisjvari passes. The alpine landscapes, mountain paths, icy streams and loud rivers make this land unforgettable. Here, traditions and customs are as rough as the surrounding landscape. The sites of interest are: Shatili fortess village, Mutso tower village, Gudanis Djvari, Khakhmati fortress, Kakhmati St. George cross, Anatory vaults, Akhieli fortress and Lebais Kari fortress.
Mtiuleti is a region in eastern Georgia. Situated mainly at 1050 m above sea level, it includes the gorge of the river Tetri Aragvi. At the southern approaches to Mtiuleti lies Mtiulkari, to the north - Trusoskari and Khevi, from the east it is bordered with Gudamakari gorge, and from the West - by Lomisi Range.
The nature is picturesque with alpine meadows of yellow rhododendron, mountain passes studded with medieval watchtowers, sparkling waterfalls, dark profound gorges and far giant glaciers. Numerous small-sized churches and basilicas, defensive towers, fortifications, Ananuri architectural complex (16th c) Bodorna, Khorogo, Tseskhli djvari, Gudimonasteri. are all preserved with meticulous care in Mtiuleti.
Pshavi region is situated in the mountains of Eastern Georgia. Its original historical name was Pkhovi. It borders Gudamakhari Gorge from the west, Khevsureti from the North and Tianeti from the south-east. Historically the Pshavi's population was divided into 12 tribes spread over two areas - Ukanapshavi and Magaroskari. Pshavi was populated since the Bronze Age.
The land isn't very suitable for agriculture but people still cultivate wheat, oats, potatoes, and frost resistant fruit. Nice landscapes, picturesque views and ubiquitous springs of mineral waters make this land even more attractive. Among the cultural sites are Devebis Namosakhlari (The Ogres' Settlement) and St. Kopala Icon.
Racha-Lechkhumi region is continuously bordered by the Caucasus ridge from the north, lower Svaneti from North-west, Imereti from the south, and Samatchablo from the East. This region was inhabited since Early Stone Age. In ancient times some part of Racha-Lechkhumi belonged to Egrisi Kingdom. The overwhelming beauty of wide-spread humid subtropical mountain-forests and mountain meadow
landscapes is open to the viewer. Over 200 various alpine and sub-alpine plant species can be found within its borders. Beautiful beech, oak, and pine forests and vineyards are spread over the entire region. This is the place where some of the most well-known Georgian red wines are produced. High mountains are studded with lakes and grottoes. Among the important cultural sites are: Nikortsminda (11th c), Sori church (14th c), Mravaldzali church of st. George (11-19th cc) Mindatsikhe (10-11th cc), Kvari fortress, Bugeuli(14-15th cc), Patara Oni(11th c), Labechini (12th c), medievals: Chiori Basilica, Barakoni, Khotevi Tsidro, Sori, Tsedisi fortrees, Toli, Khotevi, Khimbi, Khvanchkara, Kldisubani, and Ambrolauri.
Samegrelo region in western Georgia is surrounded by deep rivers Rioni, Tskhenistskali, Enguri and the Black Sea. Historically the territory of Samegrelo was part of Colchis - a rich land flowing with milk and honey. There are forest comprised of oaks, hornbills, hazelnuts, crab apples and wild pears. Historically Megrels mostly built wooden houses covered with nice carvings and perched on high piles.
Many of which may be considered interesting from the architectural point of view. Among the interesting cultural sites are Dadiani Palace (19th c), Martvili (8-11th cc), Nokalakevi archaeological sites, Matskhovari church (14th c), Anaklia and Rukhi fortresses (medieval), Tsaishi church, Djegeta complex (12-13th cc), and Kortskheli (10th c).
Samtskhe-Javakheti region once belonged to the East Georgian cultural-historical sphere. Situated at 1000-1300 m. above sea level, it is an remarkably scenic land, named after two of the Georgian tribes which settled there. During the period of its prosperity, Meskheti covered the whole southwest Georgia. Some of its monuments, churches and monasteries can still be visited on the territory of eastern Turkey.
The landscapes of Samtskhe-Javakheti region vary from subalpine forests and meadows of Bakuriani to bare volcanic canyons of the Vardzia area. The beautiful nature and architectural monuments are blended in harmony, most important of which are Vardzia (12th c), Khertvisi (9-10th cc), Tmogvi (medieval period), Atskuri (10-13th cc), Zarzma,(14th c), Saphara (10, 13th cc), Kumurdo (10th c), Chuli church (14th c), Idjareti monastery (13th c) and Okros Tsikhe, Eremchala, Zanavi (medieval period) .
Shatili The main part of this fantastic fortress-village stands on the rocky outcrop, surrounded by high mountains. Dwelling-towers are built closely to each other, forming a unique defence system - a virtually impregnable wall which creates an impression of a severe and mythical stronghold. The major part of Shatili is stacked with terraces - the roof of one house simultaneously is the yard of another. The tower-houses are connected by wood and stone bridges.
Svaneti region is sits on the southern slopes of the Caucasian range, where rivers Enguri and Tskhenistskali start their flow through the impressive gorges and highlands of Svaneti. Historically this region consisted of upper gorges of the river Kodori, so called Abkhazian Svaneti; northern part of Samegrelo and bordered Lechkhumi and upper Racha.
This is a land where the first inhabitants, mainly gold prospectors, settled in ancient times. For centuries the Svan ethnic group evolved there, cut off from the outside world by the high and inaccessible mountains. This explains why their culture has ben preserved almost intact throughout centuries. In ancient times, Svaneti was a recognized part of the Kingdom of Colchis. Deep river gorges, narrow paths, stone houses, incredible beauty of giant mountains, make the landscapes unforgettable. Among the important Cultural sites of Svaniti is Ushguli tower village - one of the highest inhabited places in the world situated at 2200m above sea level; Kvirike church (12th c), Tanghili church (10-11th cc), Lamaria church (9-10th cc) Nakipari Church (10-11th cc), churches of the villages Lengeri and Latali.
Sataplia State Nature Reserve was created in 1935 to protect geological, paleontological, speleological and botanical monuments. Stalactites and stalagmites inside the cave formed fascinating patterns. Artificial lighting provided dramatic effects to these various natural forms and changed to various shades and colours. Sataplia is also famous for the dinosaur footprints nearby.
Tusheti is a region in eastern high-mountains of Georgia, located at 1500m above sea level between Kakheti and Dagestan. It consists of four historical parts Tsova, Gometsari, Chalma and Tusheti. With deep canyons of rivers, narrow mountain paths, stone houses and towers Tusheti is one of the most picturesque and original regions
of Georgia. The nature here is extremely severe, even at the height of summer there are frozen streams visible near few roads winding up and down the beautiful valleys. The Landscape is mainly represented by alpine and sub-alpine meadows, pine forests, fields and bushes. Most of the inhabitants of Tusheti reside here only in summer. Starting from the fall the houses are locked. People move to Lower Tusheti-Alvani and villages of Kakheti. Only those who don't suffer from loneliness and severe winter stay here. Among the Cultural sites are villages with towers Omalo, Shenako, Diklo, and Dartlo.
Ushguli - This architecturally unique Middle Age village-fortification is situated 2200 m above see level, and is the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe. Surrounded by the giant snow capped mountains, it lies below mount Chkhara (5200), one of the highest, and most beautiful on the Georgian part of the Caucasus range.
Ushguli is a complex of watch-towers, dwelling-houses and ancient one-nave basilicas with impressive mural paintings. There is a belief that the ruins of Queen Tamar's fortress may be a secret burial place of this glorious queen so much beloved and venerated by Georgians.
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