About Georgia

Where We are

Georgia of Legend

Historic Facts

Architecture

Churches

Tbilisi - Capital of Georgia


Georgian Cuisine

Georgian Wines

Georgian Dance & Songs




Where we are

Map of GeorgiaGeorgia - the ancient country with more then 25-century of history is a bridge, between Europe and Asia. Georgia is bordered by the Russian Federation, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Black Sea.

Georgians call themselves Kartvelebi (ქართველები), their land Sakartvelo (საქართველო - meaning "a place for Kartvelians"), and their language Kartuli (ქართული). According to the ancient Georgian Chronicles, the ancestor of the Kartvelian people was Kartlos, the great grandson of the Biblical Japheth.

The terms Georgia and Georgians appeared in Western Europe in numerous early medieval annals. The French chronicler Jacques de Vitry and the English traveler Sir John Mandeville wrote that Georgians are called Georgian because they especially revere Saint George. Notably, the country has the five-cross flag, featuring the Saint George's Cross; the flag was used in Georgia from the 5th century throughout the Middle Ages.



UNESCO World Heritage in GEORGIA











GEORGIA OF LEGEND

There is an old legend that God saved Georgia for last. He had parcelled out all of the lands of the world to the different people, the Georgians were, of course, late to the party, and there was nothing left for them. But God so enjoyed their toasting and revelry that he gave them the section he had reserved for himself, a fertile valley of vineyards and orchards.

Every culture grows from rich bedrock of stories - ours is no exception. Georgia is the second country to convert to Christianity (in 337 AD) and has developed its special brand of Orthodox Christianity from that day. The frescos in our many fine churches are unique to us and represent the flowering of an unusually strong artistic culture with a powerful love of colour, story and myth. But even before Christianity arrived the myths centred on Georgia stand out as bedrock of human pre-history.
Prometheus - the Greek God who was chained to Mt Caucasus (commonly believed to be Mt Kazbek) in punishment for stealing fire and giving it to humankind.
Amirani - the Georgian demi-god with strong similarities to the Promethean legend, which some posit as the forerunner to the Greek.
Jason and the Argonauts - the Greek hero who sailed to Colchis (western Georgia) in search of the Golden Fleece; finding it along with the infamous Georgian princess Medea, a renowned healer from whom the word medicine comes. The story of the Odyssey describes Georgians as a rival civilization of great technological prowess and fantastic wealth.


THE FIRST GEORGIANS: Archaelogy

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 can visit the site where they were found and are exhibited and see.

But other more historically recent discoveries - like the gold in Gonio by the Black Sea coast, or the figurines and jewellery at nearby Vani - continue to provide a wealth of new exhibits for our museums.




HISTORIC FACTS

Dmanisi Hominid
The recently discovered Dmanisi hominid in the foothills of the lesser Caucasus provides a remarkable 1.8 million year old link with humankind's first transition from Africa to Europe and then Asia. It is no surprise to find numerous Stone Age settlements and archaeological sites spread through the Georgian Heartland.
Origin of Wine
All evidence points out that the earliest wine production was in Georgia. (the evidence is clear, wine was first made here)
Tribal Era
It is undoubtedly true that every square meter of the Georgia lowlands has been fought over and lived on by thousands of different clans and tribes. In Georgia's proto-history many indigenous, Indo-European and Middle Eastern tribes battled over the land.
King Midas
One of the ancient Kings of the Meskhi tribe was called Mita, and is now thought to be the famous King Midas of the golden touch. This Bronze Age era was marked by high quality gold and silver and copper artefacts, and a culture that was a strange fusion of Kurgan, Trialeti and various pre Hittite "migr"'s. All of Midas's wealth didn't help him save his kingdom, he was conquered by the Cimmerians who destroyed his kingdom.
Greek Era
A contemporary to ancient Greek culture, cities were being built in Georgia when most of Europe lived only in villages. The fabulously wealth city of Colchis (Poti) was originally a Greek colony and known for its famous School of Rhetoric and Philosophy. Many other settlements were subsequently made up and down the black sea coast by this famed civilization. Later the historian Herodotus mentions Georgian troops forming part of the infamous army of Xerxes during the invasion of Greece, and describes their weapons and dress.
Jason and the Argonauts
The first European tourists, the Argonauts, came to Georgia (the home of Media) and the legend of the Golden Fleece originated here. If Jason did exist and did come to Georgia is was probably around 300 BC. It is not known if there was a real Medea, but in this time Georgia was well know for its metal skill, linens, wine and herbal remedies.
Silk Road
The Silk Road began in the third century BC when emissaries of the Han dynasty made contact with kingdoms in central Asia. This east-west trade route would profoundly affect world history, from silk to spices to inventions such as gunpowder, printing blocks, and the water wheel, it become a conduit of the best and most valued of civilization. Of the two primary routes, the northern route goes directly through Georgia, indeed somewhere here is where traders got off their riverboats and began to walk by mule and camel.
Laz Empire
In the year 65 B.C. the Roman Empire expanded its influence into the territory of the confederated West Georgian tribes but was pushed back by Colchian and Iberian (West and East Georgian) tribes. In the fourth century A.D., because of the hegemony exercised by the Lazes (a Colchian tribe), the Laz Empire was founded.
The Legions of Rome
After the Romans pushed into Persia they set their eyes on Georgia as well. Sending famed general Pompey to the regions in 66 BC to tame the local tribes, he is famous here for building a stone bridge during his siege of Mtskheta which was still used until quite recently, remains of which can still be seen. Soon all of Caucasia fell to Roman rule, but it did not last long, and by the first century BC Georgia was considered an ally not a subject state.
Christianity Begins
God's name is writ large here. Georgia was only the second country in the world to convert to Christianity. Saint Nino of Cappadocia brought Christianity here in AD 330, thought parts of the country on the Black Sea were converted two centuries before. She made a cross from grape vines and bound it together with her own hair, and this has remained the cross of the Georgian Church to this day. Georgia's early acceptance of Christ had huge implications in the future for it permanently oriented the country to the west, to Rome, and later to Europe as a whole.
Arab Domination
After the death of Muhammad in 632 Arab armies swept north through Iran, and captured Tbilisi in 645 and installed an Emir here. While not interested in colonizing eastern Georgian they forced King Stepanoz II to pay tribute and obey their commands. Georgian culture was thus allowed to continued to develop uninterrupted and for trade, especially along the Silk Road, to continue to flourish. By the tenth century Arab rule in western Georgia had weakened and the Byzantine Empire was rapidly expanding and Basil II was able to retake most of Georgia and unite east and west as one nation.
David the Builder
Despite its turbulent history and powerful neighbours, Georgia managed to unite itself into a strong kingdom by the 12th century. David the Builder, 1089-1125 was Georgia's most prominent king, and almost single-handedly initiated the countries golden age. His war against the Turks fortuitously coincided with the Crusades and he was able to stop paying tribute in 1096 and defeated them completely in 1121. Humane treatment of Muslims during this period set a standard for tolerance that was unique in those times and is a hallmark of his enlightened rule. Using his military acumen David was able to vastly expand his Kingdom into modern day Armenia and eastward toward the Caspian Sea.
Crusades
The Georgians played a central role in the Crusades, and sent many knights to Palestine to fight in the wars in Palestine. The famous red and white Crusader cross was based on the Georgian Battle flag, which is the national flag today.
Queen Tamara
Georgia reached its zenith during the rule of King Tamara (a Queen honoured with the title of King), David's granddaughter, when Georgians enjoyed a cultural renaissance, evidenced by monastery building and a fresco and ornamental design art movement. Richly appointed churches sprang up across the newly formed empire, many atop mountains and still in place today. Georgian culture exponentially in this golden age, schools, bridges and monasteries were built and a literary tradition begun. It was to King Tamara that Shota Rustaveli dedicated his epic poem The Knight in the Panther Skin, which is still memorized by Georgian school children today.
Black Death
The horror of the plague reached Georgia earlier than most of Europe, and in 1366 it devastated the local population and effectively ended the golden age.
Mongols
The great Mongol general Tamerlane invaded Georgia not less than eight times, starting in 1386. Their huge armies were insurmountable and in the end surrender was the only option. Dividing the kingdom into three principalities they play the nobles off of each other and the king, and collected tribute from all. Georgian knights were then enlisted in the Mongol army and their technology and tactics were instrumental in the terrifying siege of Baghdad.
Persian and Ottoman Invasions
During the 16th century Georgia found itself trapped between two expanding empires, the Ottoman Turks to the west and the Persians to the east. The fall of Constantinople and the corresponding change in trade routes greatly weakened Georgia and its future was in grave peril. The Persian Shah Tahmasp invaded four times and Tbilisi was captured and burned and many slaves were taken (Georgian women were very valued for their beauty and men were valued as economic advisors). Eventually the kingdom was divided into two spheres of influence, the west to the Turks and the East to the Persians. For the next 250 years Georgia would not have her independence.
Bagrationi Rebirth
Only in the 18th century under the father and son Bagrationi Kings, was Georgia able to become independent again and rebuilding of the nation could commence. Despite rebellious princes, occupying armies, raiding parties from the north they were able to forge a strong new kingdom. Convinced that Georgia could not survive on its own they turned to Catherine the Great of Russia and forged an alliance. In 1783 a treaty was signed making Georgia a protectorate of the Russian Empire.
Annexation
Georgia's last colonizer - Russia - began its annexation in 1801, after abrogating its prior treaty, and soon after killed the entire Georgian royal family. This great humiliation was impossible to fight and soon the Russian presence was felt everywhere, indeed in some place their troops quartered their horses in Georgian churches. As a result the country spent over 150 years as a part of the Russian empire, first as a province, then after the communist revolution, as a Soviet Republic.
Soviet Riviera
Even in the modern age Georgia retained its knack for self-preservation and independence, always fiercely maintaining its language, religion and culture. Indeed, it was the wealthiest of the Soviet Republics and by the end of the era was hosting 2.5 million tourists year.
Independence
In 1991 Georgia unilaterally declared its independence from the USSR. A year later the country proudly became the 179th member of the United Nations.
Post Communism
Upon the break-up of the Soviet Union, alliance with the west was quickly sought in order to cement the newfound freedom, but stability was difficult to achieve. Separatists in Abkazia supported by the Russians started a war which ended up in the regions majority Georgian population being forced from their homes and becoming internal refuges. Though the situation is now stabilized and peaceful the conflict is still not resolved.
Rose Revolution
In November 2003 the completely non-violent Rose Revolution re-invigorated the process of self-definition. Today Georgia is a presidential Democracy and is lead by its young new President Mikhail Saakashvili.


Architecture



Georgian Architecture in general is a fantastic landscape of watchtowers, hand carved balconies, and richly frescoed churches. Combined with a Mediterranean climate and a legendary hospitality, our buildings which seem torn straight from the fairy tales makes Georgia one of the unacknowledged marvels of the world. Indeed it can be regarded as the ultimate expression of our national heritage and our affinity, affection and skill with stone.

An ancient tradition reaching far back into pagan times, it seems to parallel the ancient metal crafts as well. The degree of artistry and creativity in the treasures that are our castles and churches, monuments and halls is deeply compelling and moving, as is the way it has been incorporated into modern buildings as well. From homes with circular floor plans to ancient cupolas to the triple-church basilicas there is a unique style and form here. Moreover the amount of ancient architecture that has survived here, especially in the mountains, is truly breathtaking.

The traditional Georgian house is called a "darbazi," which is a rectangular hall with a hearth in the middle and kind of beehive cupola (wooden beams set in a dodecahedron) over the top of it. Versions of it can be found in Tbilisi, at the famous Kopola hotel and the Darbazi of Porakishivil as well as the ethnographic museum. A supra in such an exotic location is not to be missed.

Tbilisi is well known for its unique cantilevered balconies of intricately carved wood which hang over the second floors of many of its buildings, and often hung over the old city walls as well. Painted in a wild variety of colours, from ochre to cinnamon, azure to white. The prototypical ‘Tbilisi house' is a blend of centuries blend of Georgian traditional with Russian classic.




Churches



This is a nation where a long tradition of religious tolerance unites people instead of dividing them. Throughout all its history, strangers of all faiths have always been welcome in Georgia. Living in the mountains and on the borders of so many civilizations one begins to appreciate the mysterious and learns to live within the numinous. Of course, the primary religion here is Christian as it has been since the fourth century. The Georgian Orthodox Church is at the heart of the nations soul, fundamental to its history, an indisputable part of its future.



At one time it was said Tbilisi had a church at the end of every street. Although not quite so today, new churches are still being built, from the giant new Sameba Cathedral, to the hundreds of small chapels dotted around the city. But it is still the old churches like Sioni, Kashveti and Anchiskhati, that steal the show and capture the full feeling of what it's always been like to be Georgian.

There is no better way to catch the inimitable atmosphere of Georgia's history than in its churches. These cupola-domed structures are found from one side our nation to the other. Perched on mountaintops high up in the Greater Caucasus, Mt Kazbegi, or carved into sandstone hillsides, as in Vardzia or David Gareji.



The walls are usually covered in frescos and frequently resound with the sounds of our polyphonic choirs. Stand in Tbilisi's 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 (Georgia's second city) and see a large cathedral covered floor to cupola-top with magnificent frescos and mosaics. Wind your way up into the remote mountain valleys of Svaneti and encounter superb 12th century frescos in the most far-flung churches, as well as several museums packed with elegant icons and treasures.



The Beautiful capital city of beautiful GEORGIA

                     TBILISI literally means Warm Spring


Founded in the 5th century AD by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia), and made into a capital in the 6th century, Tbilisi is a significant industrial, social, and cultural center. The city is also emerging as an important transit route for global energy and trade projects. Located strategically at the crossroads between Europe and Asia and lying along the historic Silk Road routes, Tbilisi has often been the point of contention between various rivaling powers and empires. The history of the city can be seen by its architecture, where the Haussmannized Rustaveli Avenue and downtown are blended with the narrower streets of the medieval Narikala district.

















Old Tbilisi (Georgian: ძველი თბილისი, dzveli t'bilisi) is an administrative district (raioni) in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Although the term "Old Tbilisi" has long been used to denote a historical part of the city, it was only in 2007 that it became a distinct administrative entity to incorporate several historical neighborhoods formerly included in the districts of Mtatsminda-Krtsanisi, Isani-Samgori, and Didube-Chughureti.

Old Tbilisi is principally centered on what is commonly referred to as the Tbilisi Historic District, which, due to its significant architectural and urban value, as well as the threat to its survival, was previously listed on the World Monuments Watch (1998, 2000, 2002).[1]

The district is located on the both sides of the Mtkvari River and is dominated by Mount Mtatsminda, Narikala fortress and the Kartlis Deda monument. It chiefly represents a 19th-century urban fabric with largely eclectic architecture which includes the buildings and structures from the 5th to the 20th century. However, most of the pre-19th century city did not survive due to the devastating Persian invasion of 1795. The district houses a bulk of the tourist attractions in Tbilisi, including churches, museums, sulphur bathhouses, and peculiar wooden houses with open, carved balconies. In the 19th century, the core territory of the modern-day district of Old Tbilisi was tentatively subdivided into ethnic neighborhoods such as Avlabari with its Armenian and Georgian quarters on the left bank of the Kura River and the Persian Quarter (Said-Abad) on the right bank of the Kura River.
















Tbilisi at Night



















Summer in Georgia



Georgian cuisine

"Every Georgian dish is a poem." Alexander Pushkin
Georgia's rich and savoury cuisine is the natural extension of a fertile, mineral-rich landscape fed by the pure waters of the Caucasus Mountains. Due to the antiquity of the culture here it is hardly surprising Georgia has developed such a strikingly original cuisine. Not only is it a perfect accompaniment to the rich viniculture here, we make a point in showing it off to our guests in elaborate feasts we call "Supras."

Most of our food is organic, and the ingredients from our incredibly varied cuisine profit from the mild climate that provides fresh vegetables for three quarters of the year - and we have the best Tomato's you've ever tasted. Numerous aromatic wild mountain herbs give our dishes an uncommonly exotic aroma. Rich in walnuts, pomegranate, vegetable pates, organic fresh meats, wild herbs and love of garlic, our cuisine provides a superb accompaniment to the endless supply of wine.

By the way our food is not only wonderful it's cheap. You can easily eat a world-class meal, with wine, for less than the cost of a paperback book. You will never go hungry in Georgia, and with of our love of toasting you certainly won't go thirsty either.

THE SUPRA

The grand Georgian table is still very much alive and is found on a daily basis in cities as in villages. Spread out before you, you will find a superb range of meats, cheeses, vegetables more often than not organically produced, and often at high altitude amid pure mountain air. Our Matsoni (Georgian yogurt) and the many varieties of cheeses from sheep, cow and goat's milk are the products of these deep green pastures. As the ‘Tamada' or toast-maker raises a glass to ‘friendship' look down the table at the array of aromatic foods covering the surface. The following are just a few of the dishes unique to Georgia:

Mtswadi


Georgian barbeque, meat grilled to perfection over a grape vine-wood fire, with fresh pomegranate juice squeezed over it.

Khinkali


The Georgian National dish: juicy meat dumplings made to be eaten by hand, using a special technique that can be learned only here. Visitors end up craving this so much they make special trips back just to taste it again.
Khaja-puri


Georgian cheese bread, appearing in a number of regional styles
Baje


Ground walnut sauce with garlic and spices. Great with everything
Adjab-sandali

Adjab-sandali
A delicious blend of fried aubergines, onions, peppers and mountain spices
Ajika

Ajika
Georgia’s own spicy hot sauce filled with herbs and spices.
Tkemali


Georgian ketchup, but oh so much more… A red or green sour plumb sauce made from the fruit of the tkemali tree. No one leaves the country without a bottle.
Lobiani


Bread filled with beans and aromatic spices.


Ghomi

ghomi
The Georgian equivalent of an Italian polenta. Crushed corn kernels to which cornflour is added, continually stirred, and cooked for a long time. Often served with slices of suluguni, cheese placed in the middle of the hot corn puree to melt. A familar taste for Americans from the South.
Chakapuli

chakapuli
It is made from onions, lamb chops, dry white wine, tarragon leaves, tkemali sauce (plum sauce), mixed fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill, cilantro), garlic and salt.


Mchadi

mchadi
Cornbread. Can be small and thick fried in oil, or thin and wide with crunchy surface.
Matsoni

matsoni
Bread filled with beans and aromatic spices.


Gozinaki

Gozinaki
A sweet of boiled honey and sugar poured over a bed of walnuts.


Churchkhela

Churchkhela
A candy made from boiled grape skins and walnuts, sometimes combined with raisins. Never found in restaurants, but sold in village markets or along country roads. Walnuts are strung on a thread and dipped into a hot grape mixture, then hung to solidify.

Video about Georgian cuisine: