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Fabulous Georgia

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Georgia is an extremely mountainous country, certainly the most so in Europe. The rugged Caucasus Mountains stretch across the northern third, while central and south, the Lesser Caucasus Mountains dominate the landscape.


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Protected Areas

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Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park Supported by WWF

Located in the Lesser Caucasus

the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is one of the largest in Europe

and the first national park in the Caucasus. It covers more than

76,000 hectares, which amounts nearly 1% of the territory of Georgia.

Mountainous forests and sub-alpine and alpine meadows are home to

rare species of flora and fauna. The park is supported by the World

Wide Fund for Nature.

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The Protected Areas are located among the two main vital sources, the mainrivers of Kakheti – Iori and Alazani. The gorge is a deep and very beautiful canyoncut by a little ravine through the cliffs of limestone origin.The territories of Vashlovani are distinguished with rare Wild pistachiotrees(Pistacea mutica), arid light forests and bluestem-feather grasssteppes.Foothills are covered with oak trees and ash-tree groves mixed with maple andelm. Here can be found barberry, Jerusalem thorn, smoke tree, peashrub, et al.There are unique floodplain forest of Alazani and two little bays (Juma andMijna) in Vashlovani National Park. The bays are the only place in Georgia wherethe walnut trees (Juglans regia) grow wild next toFloodplain oaks(Qurcuspedunculata), poplars (Populus nigra, P. canescens), ash trees(Fraxinusexcelsior)andpomegranate (Punica granatum), Peony(Paeonia maiko), Wildgrape (Vitis sylvestris)and other rare plants.

the Vashlovani Strict Nature Reserve is very rich in ornithological viewpoint. Onecan find the flocks of thousands of Blackbirds and Rosy starlings in Vashlovani.There are many other small birds.

Waterfowls are abundant in Vashlovani; herons, cormorants, garganey, mallards and Red ducks, osprey, White tailed eagle can be found here.The reptiles also play a significant role in the fauna of Vashlovani. 25 species are described there. Greek tortoise (Testudo graeca), Schneider's skink, Caucasian agama, Caucasian sand boa and the snakes – Boa constrictor, Four-lined snake, Grass snake and Levantine viper can be found in the territory of the National Park.

About 16 species of fish inhabit the Alazani River.

700 species of insects are recorded in the territory of Vashlovani. Among them 109 species are of butterflies.

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Tusheti, one of the most beautiful regions of Georgia, is located in the easternCaucasus. Tusheti is bordered by Dagestan to the east and by Chechnya – to thenorth. Khevsureti is located to the west of Tusheti and Kakheti – to the south.Tusheti, surrounded by the high mountain ranges and summits, is rugged by thenumerous gorges, the waters from which flow into the two major rivers ofTusheti – Pirikiti’s Alazani and Tusheti’s (Gometsari) Alazani separated with thewatershed of Makratela. Both Alazanis merge near the village of Shenako andthen leave Tusheti and the border of Georgia, flows to Dagestan, where this riveris called as Andis Koisu and finally flows into the Caspian Sea.Tusheti Protected Areas cover Tusheti Strict Nature Reserve, Tusheti NationalPark and Tusheti Protected Landscape. There total area is about113,660.2 ha.


The vegetation of Tusheti is characterized by a high level of endemism. 230representatives of domestic flora are endemic to Caucasus (more than 20% oftotal amount of Caucasus endemic species) and 11 species are endemic toGeorgia.

60 species of mammals, about 120 species of birds, 4 - of reptiles, 6 - ofamphibians and 1 species of fish are widespread in Tusheti.

Among large ungulate animals Roe deer can be often found in the forests ofTusheti and very rarely – Red deer. Wild boar regularly visits Tusheti fromneighboring Dagestan.

Tusheti is rich in carnivores – Red fox and Gray wolf can be found everywhereincluding even very high areas above sea level. The footprints of Brown beer canbe also found everywhere, the population of which is quite stable. Lynx can bealso found in Tusheti in sufficient amount and it has many sources of preyincluding small rodents and hare and chamois and young turs – all these animalsare the hunting objects of lynx.

The scientists still hope that the Mountains of Tusheti are still the shelter ofounce, the Southwest Asian leopard.

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National Park is located in western Georgia. It covers the eastern zone of

the Black Sea coast and the basin of the PaliastomiLake. The Park is

established with the purpose of protection and surviving of wetland


KolkhetiThe Kolkheti lowland became the subject of international interest firstly in

1996, when theGeorgia joined the Ramsar Convention on “Wetlands of

International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat”. Since 2000 the

Kolkheti national park began full-scale functioning. The park is not a

monolith formation and it is consisted of separate territories – the districts.

The Park is divided into the following natural geographical districts:

Anaklia-Churia (between the coastline sections of ravines of

the ChuriaRiver and the KhobistskaliRiver), Nabada (between the western

sections of the ravines of the KhobistskaliRiver and theRioniRiver) and

Imnati (between the western sections of the ravines of the RioniRiver and

the SupsaRiver). These are the places where the ecosystems of wetlands

are best preserved. Besides, the national park includes the sea water

area located between the estuaries of the rivers of Rioni and Churia


Kolkheti mires, first of all, are important for their relict origin. This lowland

is a remainder of the tropical and subtropical landscapes preserved till

today, which were stretched along entire Eurasian continent as continuous

belt in Cenozoic age about 10 million years ago. In Kolkheti the plants

have been preserved that are nowadays characteristic only for swampy

ecosystems of tundra and taiga of the far North. The Kolkheti lowland is of

other international significance as well.

The territories of Kolkheti national park are interesting, first of all, by

botanic point of view. The complexes of phytocoenosis rich in quite

diverse, relict and endemic species, and various compositions have

remained there till present – they are the different plant communities of

the mires, swampy forests and sand dunes located along the coastline

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Mtirala National Park is located in histor­ical Achara. The territory of Mtiralaisconstructed by volcanic-sedimentary rocks of so-called “Naghvarevi Pack”,which are presented by alternation of sub-alkali and lime alkali basalts,trachiandesites, andesites, delenites, tuffites, marls and argillites. MountMtirala is located between the Black Sea and Achara mountain system on thewatershed of Chakvistskali and Koraghitskali.These mountains intercept thehumid air from the Black Sea and determine Achara's very humid climate.Generally, Achara is rich in atmospheric pre­cipitation but the Mount Mtirala,height of which is 1381 m above sea level, is the most abundant withprecipitation. Annual precipitation reaches to 4520 mm here, due to which theMount Mtirala is considered as one of the wettest sites not only in Achara butin our country as well.The toponym "Mtirala" (“Weeping”) was given to thisMount just because of abundant precipitation.The flora of Mtirala is rich and diverse

The fauna of Mtirala is rich as well. Among amphibians Caucasian salamander,Banded newt, Caucasian toad, Common tree frog, Long-legged frog and Eurasianmarsh frog can be found here.Three species of lizard and several species of snakes, such as Grass Snake andDice Snake, and Caucasian Viper inhabit here.

The Ornithofauna of the National Park is quite richinbirds of prey.

Ruins of fortresses and bridges of the Early and Late Middle Ages are found in the surroundings of Mount Mtirala (or Tsiskara).

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Complex of Imereti caves is located at a distance of 10 km from the townofKutaisi. The area of the complex of Imereti caves is about 354 hectares. TheSataplia itself is located at 500 m above sea level. Karst caves can be found inthis territory. Climate of Sataplia is subtropical. Amount of annualprecipitation reaches 1900 mm. Average air temperature in January is +40Cand in August +250C.Sataplia Strict Nature Reserve is located in the subtropical zone. 98 % of itsterritory is covered with subtropical young forest of Colchic type. In the forestdominate beech groves with box-tree underbrush and hornbeam groveswith Oriental hornbeam underbrush. Among coniferous plants natural yewtrees (Taxus baccata) can be found here.67 species of wood plants are described in the territory of the Strict NatureReserve, out of which 30 are tree species and 37 – bush species; among them59 species are deciduous and 8 – evergreen. Nearly half of wood plants arerelict. There are relicts of the Tertiary period among them, such as: Caucasianhornbeam (Carpinus caucasica), Georgian oak (Quercus iberica), Orientalbeech (Fagus orientalis), Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa), Imeretianbuckthorn (Rhamnus imeretina), alder (Alnus barbata), European bladdernut(Staphylea pinnata), Colchic box-tree (Buxus colchica), et al.Among the elements of Colchic forest 8 species are widespread in the StrictNature reserve, such as: Colchic oak, Imeretian buckthorn, rhododendron,Butcher's broom, Southern Butcher’s broom, European bladdernut, CaucasianWhortleberry and Colchic box-tree and among the elements of Poltava flora –box-tree, Colchic climber, rhododendron, et al.It is remarkable, that rare and threatened 9 wood plants species of Georgia’sRed List are widespread in the Strict Nature Reserve, besides, 3 are endemicto Caucasus and one – to Georgia.

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A 3000 Year Old State

Georgia has one of the world’s richest and oldest histories.

Archaeological excavations provide clear evidence that

Georgian tribes formed their statehood as early as the second

millennium BC. The remains of the flourishing Georgian states

of Colchis and Iberia can be seen while travelling in the ancient

cities of Vani, Kutaisi and Mtskheta.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

1.Ancient Capital of Georgia - Mtskheta

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral - 11th century

Jvari Church - 6th century

2.The Town of Kutaisi

Gelati Monastery - 12th century

Bagrati Cathedral - 11th century

3.Upper Svaneti

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Homeland of the First European

The Remains of what may be the earliest human ancestors to migrate from Africa into Europe have been found in the Republic of Georgia.

habitation in Europe. It proves that there is almost one-million-year gap between Dmanisiand any European early-human site, making Georgia the homeland of the FIRST European.This is the face that’s changing a thousand minds. It could be the face of the first human to leave Africa. And it’s not what anyone expected. This 1.75-million-year-old pioneer, found beneath the ruins of a medieval town called Dmanisi in the republic of Georgia, had a tiny brain – not nearly the size scientists thought our ancestors needed to migrate into a new land. And its huge canine teeth and thin brow look too apelike for an advanced hominid, the group that includes modern humans and their ancestors.

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Land of the Golden Fleece

Ancient Greek legends told of a fabulously wealthy land where Jason and the Argonauts stole the Golden Fleece from King Aeetes with the help of his daughter Medea. It was a distant land that was reached by the Black Sea and down the River Phasis. The actual site of this legendary kingdom has never been found but the Greeks must have been greatly impressed by the Colchis region of Georgia, through which the River Phasis (currently the Rioni River) runs, for such stories to have been born.

Geographically, ancient Colchis comprised the land bounded by the Black Sea to the west, the Caucasus Mountains to the north, the Surami Range to the east and the MeskhetianMountains to the south. In this fertile, sheltered area, Colchian civilization flourished. Their Late Bronze Age (15th to 8th Century BC) saw the development of an expertise in the smelting and casting of metals that began long before this skill was mastered in Europe. Sophisticated farming implements were made and fertile, well-watered lowlands blessed with a mild climate promoted the growth of progressive agricultural techniques.It is likely that the Golden Fleece existed. Earlier in this century, remote mountain villagers in Svaneti (a part of ancient Colchis) were observed using sheepskins to trap the fine gold particles in the rivers that flowed from the Caucasus Mountains. The skins would then be dried and beaten to shake out their contents. However, it is debatable as to whether or not the legendary 'wealth' of Colchis referred only to gold. Archaeological evidence dates the earliest Greek imports of painted pottery and amphorae to the end of the 7th Century BC. In exchange, it is thought that Greeks sought the rich natural resources of Colchis including wood and metal ores as well as textiles. The Ancient Greek writer, Herodotus, referred to the superior quality of Colchian linen and today, the mountain slopes remain heavily forested.

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The Oldest Gold From The Land Of Colchis

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Colchis Bronze And Silver

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A Silk Road Country

With its favourable geographic location Georgia has always been

a connecting link between Europe and Asia, traversed by many

routes including the famous Silk Road. This most important pre-

modern trade road linking China with the West diverged into

northern and southern routes, the northern one passing through

Georgia. The traces of ancient caravans are still visible near

Uplistsikhe cave town.

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Cradle of Wine

When it comes to wine-making, Georgia is blessed. Grapevine

has been cultivated in the fertile valleys of Georgia for

about 8000 years. With over 500 varieties of endemic grapes

and the world’s first cultivates grapevines, the traditions of

viticulture are entwined with the country's national identity. It is

also believed that the word “wine” is of Georgian origin (“gvino”

in Georgian)

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8,000-year-old wine unearthed in Georgia:

Scientists have discovered the world's oldest wine – a vintage

produced 8,000 years ago. The find pushes back the history of

wine by several hundred years. New discoveries show how

Neolithic man was busy making red wine in Shulaveri

(Georgia). Although no liquid wine from the period has

survived, scientists have now found and tested wine residues

discovered on the inner surfaces of 8,000-year-old ceramic

storage jars. - The Independent, 2003

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Georgian people shared the Message of God in the first century when the

Holy Apostles Andrew the First-called, Simon the Canaanite and Matthata

preached the Gospel here, although Georgia was officially converted to

Christianity in 337 with the evangelism of St. Nino of Cappadocia. Being

one of the world’s most ancient Christian countries, Georgia also

preserves the most holy relic – the Robe of Christ.

Ancient Christian Country

The original church was built in IV century A.D. during the reign of Mirian III of Kartli (Iberia). St. Nino is said to have chosen the confluence of the Mtkvari (Kura) and Aragvi rivers as the place of the first Georgian Church.

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According to Georgian hagiography, in the first century AD a Georgian Jew from Mtskheta named Elias was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. Elias bought Jesus’ robe from a Roman soldier at Golgotha and brought it back to Georgia. Returning to his native city, he was met by his sister Sidonia who upon touching the robe immediately died from the emotions engendered by the sacred object. The robe could not be removed from her grasp, so she was buried with it. The place where Sidonia is buried with Christ's robe is preserved in the Cathedral. Later, from her grave grew an enormous cedar tree. Ordering the cedar chopped down to build the church, St. Nino had seven columns made from it for the church’s foundation. The seventh column, however, had magical properties and rose by itself into the air. It returned to earth after St. Nino prayed the whole night. It was further said that from the magical seventh column a sacred liquid flowed that cured people of all diseases. In Georgian sveti means "pillar" and tskhoveli means "life-giving" or "living", hence the name of the cathedral. An icon portraying this event can be seen on the second column on the right-hand from the entrance. Reproduced widely throughout Georgia, it shows Sidonia with an angel lifting the column in heaven. Saint Nino is in the foreground: King Mirian and his wife, Queen Nana, are to the right and left.

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svetitskhoveli Cathedral, originally built in the 4th century, has been damaged several times during history, notably by the invasions of Arabs, Persians, and Timur and latterly during Russian subjugation and the Soviet period. The building has also been damaged by earthquakes.

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Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Orthodox Monastery in the Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia. Parts of the monastery date back to 6th century. The present day cathedral dates to the 11th century.

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Gelati Monastery was founded in the 12th century by Georgia’s mostfamous king, David the Builder (1073 – 1125 AD). Gelati and Bagrati arelisted as World Cultural Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

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Davit gareji .This remarkable complex of cave monasteries, covering a large area of almost desert-like wilderness, is one of the highlights of a visit to Georgia. Founded in the 6th century by the Christian Father St. David, the monasteries of Lavra, Udabno, Dodo and Bertubani are remarkable for their original cave frescos that date from the 8th to 13th centuries

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Vardzia. The cave city of Vardzia is a cave monastery dug into the side of the

Erusheli mountain in southern Georgia on the left bank of the river Mtkvari. It was founded by Queen Tamar in 1185. The monastery was constructed as protection from the Mongols and consisted of over six thousand apartments in a thirteen story complex.

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The Great Caucasus

the Highest Mountain Range in Europe

Stretching for about 1200km between the Black and the Caspian seas

the Caucasus Mountain system is considered a natural boundary

between Europe and Asia. This is where you find summits over 5000m,

including Mt. Elbrus (5642m) – the highest in Europe. Georgia has

three peaks over 5000m – Mt. Shkhara (5068m), Mt. Janga (5059m)

and Mt. Kazbegi (5047m) where according to the Greek myth

Prometheus was chained.

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Ushguli – Europe’s Highest Village

At 2200m Ushguli is the highest settlement in Europe. The village of

about 200 people is located in Upper Svaneti region, at the foot of Mt.

Shkhara (5068m) – one of the highest summits of the Caucasus. Dotted

with medieval Svanetian watchtowers Ushguli is also a UNESCO World

Heritage site.

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Unique Language and Script

Georgia’s original and highly developed culture is proved by its

unique language and script. Spoken by about 5 million people

worldwide, Georgian language has an ancient literary tradition.

Georgian alphabet was created in the 3rd century BC and is one of

the only 14 existing scripts in the world. Earliest Georgian

inscriptions are found in a church near Bethlehem (AD 430) and in

Bolnisi Sioni church (AD 495) in the South-East of Georgia. The

earliest Georgian novel also dates to the 5th century AD.

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Many travelers begin exploring Georgia with a visitto Tbilisi. Tbilisi is Georgia‟s historic capital city, and has been thecapital since the 6th century A.D. It was named for the hot springs thatabound in the area, as the word “Tpili” means „warm‟ inGeorgian. Tbilisi is the largest city in the country, with over one millioninhabitants and is situated in the beautiful Mtkvari River Valley. Beinga main cultural, industrial, and social center of Georgia, it typifies theblend of cultures seen across the country, with a mix of architecturalstyles and inhabitants.In the old section are medieval buildings and courtyards, narrowstreets, overhanging balconies, and the famous hot sulfur springs. Therest of the city has been extensively modernized.


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Beautiful landscapes, the Great Caucasus Mountains,subtropical zone of the Black Sea, rivers and waterfalls, cavetowns, resorts and mineral springs, urbanized cities andsettlements, as well as traditional Georgian hospitalitymake Georgia a great country for tourists.

Why you Should Visit Georgia

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Impressions that you will never forget . . .