Author: Polscience (public domain)
Upper Svaneti is a mountainous region in the Caucasus with charming medieval villages. Many of these villages have distinctive tower-houses - the village of Chazhashi, for example, still has as many as two hundred such towers, which were built as defense posts to watch for approaching invaders.
The Svanetian towers were erected between the 9th and 12th centuries. Although today they stand only for their touristic and aesthetic value, at the time they were built, the towers were used to watch for marauders. The Mongols, which conquered much of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, however did not reach Svanetia.
Upper Svaneti was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 20th session of the World Heritage Committee in Merida, Mexico, on 2-7 December, 1996.
Photos of Upper Svaneti
Author: Paata Vardanashvili (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Soli village in Upper Svaneti
Author: Gogi Bedenashvili (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Svanetian towers in a village in Upper Svaneti
Author: ilan molcho (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Village of Murymeli, which is part of Ushguli in Mestia, Upper Svaneti
Author: ?????? (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Village of Ushguli in Upper Svaneti
Author: D.Papuashvili (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
World Heritage Site Inscription Details
Location: N 42 54 59 E 43 00 41 in the village of Chajashi, Mestia district, in the region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svateni, Georgia.
Inscription Year: 1996
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: IV, V
Location Map of Upper Svaneti
Upper Svaneti is number 3 on the map.
View UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Georgia in a larger map
Visiting Upper Svaneti
It is best to engage a tour operator in Tbilisi in order to visit the small villages of the Upper Svaneti. Alternatively, you might want to consider hiring a jeep or Marschrutka to take you there. A trip from Tbilisi to Mestia takes about 12 hours.