In the mountainous part of Western Georgia′s Colchis Plan lies one of the most dazzlingly picturesque corners of the region and the entire country – Curia. The hilly landscape of this beautiful land holds exotic beauty, and an unusual synthesis of the sea and mountainous . Well, it looks so much like the mages of paradise in our minds.
The environs of Guria are full of springs, strealets and rivers. When visiting, try going up a high hill or climbing a mountain so that you could take a look at those streams and rivers. They flow and run so rapidly, it looks as if they are moving in to attack the entire plain. Here you won′t find any garish colors or rough lines – everything about the region is soft, gentle, light and smooth. Even the mountains look like they are covered in velvet. Here, everything speaks in a unique harmonic language and this language is as complicated and distinctive as a Gurian Krimanchuli song.
…and the history! The past which makes this land an indivisible part of Georgia′s destiny and, at the same time, is the basis of local traditions and pride.
Territory – wise, Guria is the smallest of Georgias 11 regions. It is located in the western half of the country, sandwiched between the Colchis Plain and nearby mountainous zone. To the west, it is bordered by the black Sea. The coastline stretches 22 kilometers from south to north.
To the north, Guria isbordered by Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region, with the borderline passing along the Pichori River. To the south lies the Adjara Autonomous Republic and to the northeast and southeast, it is bordered by Imereti and Samtskhe-Javakheti regions, respectively.
The word Guria is first mentioned in 8th century manuscripts (735-738 AD) and coincides with Umayyad caliph Marvan ibn Muhammads (nicknamed Marwan the Deaf by Georgians) military campaighn in Georgia. `Marvan the Deaf went through Guria`, writes the chronicler.
However, the folklore, legends and sayings often tell more interesting and impressive stories than dry historic chronicles. There is a very interesting legend as to how the word Guria originated:
Once upon a time there was avery conceited and insolent king in india by the name of Shedat. One day, he decided to create a heavenly place, a Garden of Eden for himself because he thought the people considered him to be a god. Shedat′s Eden had one lack, though:`What kind of Eden is that,` his servants asked him, which has no angels in it?` The king immediately ordered his men:`Go and find me guria (beauties) to fill my Eden even if you have to look for them in every single corner of the world`. The servants obeyed, gathered all the gurias from various countries and headed back to india. When they were passing through the Caucasus, the news came that king Shedat had passed away. The gurias then decided not to return to their homes and stay in what is today a Georgian region of Guria.
In feudal times, Guria became one of Georgian principalities. The Gurian royalties official name was Gurieli, although their historic family name was Vardanidze. The first Eristavi
(prince) of Guria was Vardan Varadnidze, who is mentioned in a Jumati manuscript dated by Giorgi Chubinishvili as written in 10-11th centuries.
In the second half of 15th century, when the unified Georgian state was once again dissolved, the Prinsipality of Guria was created. It was ruled by Gurielis, who made residence at Alambari (todays Ozurgeti) and later in Likhauri, with their country seat being located in Lesa village. The principality of Guria had continuous wars with Ottoman Empire and was always assisted by allies, with the principality of Odishi (todays Samegrelo region) being the closest.
Today, Guria is an administrative-territorial unit of Georgia. It consists of Ozurgeti, Chokhatauri, and Lanchkhuti municipalities, with the town of Ozurgeti being the main administrative center of the entire region.
Location: Lanchkhuti municipality, South-Western part, border of Guria and Samegrelo, Black Sea coast, lowlands of Guria; 0,3 m below sea level.
Access road: distance from Tbilisi – 315km, from Poti – 5 KM, from Ozurgeti – 35 km, from Lanchkhuti -33 km, from Batumi – 65 km, from Kutaisi – 90 km.
The biggest part of Paliastomi lake is located in the region of Samaegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, but its western wing is a part of Guria and is situated on the territory of Lanchkhuti municipality. The surface area of the lake is 18 sq/km, space of the basin -547 sq.km, maximum depth – 3 m, volume of water – 52 min. cubic meters. Paliastomi is the third largest lake in Georgia.
Location: lanchkhuti municipality, Kolkheti lowlands
Access road: travel from river Pichori gorge is possible from Paliastomi lake, via Kolkheti National Park, by means of tourist route, as well as through walking trail: in the upper part of river Pichori, to the West from the town of Lanchkhuti leads a rocky road, distance from the gorge – 5 km, from Tbilisi up to the entrance to the gorge 325 km, from Ozurgeti – 45 km, from Lanchkhuti – 43 km, from Batumi – 75 km, from Kutaisi – 100 km.
River Pichori originates on the northern slope of Guria hill, on 245 m above sea level, and the drains into the Palistomi lake.
Kolkheti National Park lies in theriver Pichori gorge where landscape typical for Kolkheti marshlands and lowlands survives. In the river gorge are distributed plants and vegetation typical only for faraway Northern tundra and taiga wetland eco-systems.
Location: lanchkhuti municipality, Guria lowlands, 13 m above sea level
Access road: near railway line of Samtredia-Makhinjauri, by Japana Lake, runs a road of International importance – Georgian backbone higway С12, as well as a road of internal public importance Japana-Abasha; distance from Tbilisi to the lake – 270 km, from Kutaisi – 50 km, from Lanchkhuti – 12 km.
The most part of this kind of lakes, lake Japana lake has been turned to day into a pond employed for nurturing fish. As it seems to be, in the village of Japana which was given to the lake, mulberry was a wide-spread plant. There are two more lakes on the territory of village Japana: Didi Narionali and Mtsire Narionali.
There is a Georgian architectural monument, medieval fortress, surviving not far from Japana Lake. It is situated on the rocky hillock. Not far from the fortress there are ruins of a big settlement.
Location: Ozurgeti municipality, territory of Askana community, village of Mtispiri
Access road: distance from Tbilisi – 550 km, from Ozurgeti – 200 km.
Clay in Georgia is mined in many places and humans used it from times immemorial. Askana clay stands out for amazing characteristics. It can be used in Pharmaceutical and textile industries, perfumery, energy sector, agriculture, etc.
From the South village of Askana borders with river Gulefa which separates it from village of Mtispiri. There is a water-fall in Gulefa where it creates a lake of 8 meters wide. This spot by country population is called Ochochxa.
Location: Chokhatauri municipality, confluence of Meskheti range and its Northern bifurcation – Loboroti slope, near the source of river Supsa and Tsablaritskali
Access road: automobile road Akhaltsikhe-Khulo-Batumi has a fork wgerefrom a rocky trail starts and runs from village Upper Gagvi to summer meadows via villages Chechla and Mokhe. This is a ground road for high performance vehicles. Distance from the village of Upper Gagvi until lake Didi Jali is 15 km, and from the village of Mlashe – 35 km. distance from Tbilisi – 280 km, from Adigeni – 50 km, from Batumi – 180 km. from the resort township of Sairme to Mepistskaro snakes a walking route on steep hills with the distance of 25 km.
Mount Mepistskaro existing on the height of 2850 m above sea level is the highest summit of the Meskheti range.
On the Northern slope of Meskheti range, near the spring water site Mepistskaro, on the height of the 2800 m above sea level, is the source of the longest river in Guria – river Sypsa, which flows into the Black Sea near the village of Grigoleti (length 108 km, basin space 1130 sq. km).
Of Georgias regions Guria has the smallest territory. Its area is 2036,1 sq. km. it is situated in South-Western part of Georgia. From east it is bordered by Imereti, from the east – by the Black Sea 22-km seaside strip, from the south – by Guria-Ajara range, and from the north – by the lowland of river Rioni. The region includes municipalities of Ozurgeti, Lanchkuti and Chokhatauri. The nature of the region and its climate is distinct thanks to the proximity of mountains and sea.
There are plenty of citrus plantations and groves in Guria as well as wide spectrum of locally produced tea and nuts. From old times this region was famous for its diverse and unique grapes varieties.
The region is rich with historical part, polyphonic singing and traditions: in Guria, other than traditional Georgian polyphonic three-voice singing they sing in four voices where one of the voices is krimanchuli. In villages six-lute spiritual instrument – soinari survives; while during Kalandoba (Khristmas) the Gurians according to old tradition make chichilaki and bake Christmas kverebi (Gurian variant of traditional Georgian cheese-pies-khachapuri)…
The biggest wealth of Guria is water. Almost everywhere one can come across full-flowing Gurian rivers, crystal-clear springs, murmuring brooks, mineral healing waters…making holiday and getting treatment in the region is possible on the seaside, on the highest spot in the mountains, in SPA Resorts rich with mineral waters. Lowers of active vacations have opportunity to enjoy kayaking or engage in fishing, hunting or rafting.
Resort of Askana
Location: Northern slope of Meskheti range, gorge of river Bakhvistskali
Distance: 17 km away from Ozurgeti, 333 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 173m
Climate: subtropical, winter mild, without snow, mean temperature in January – 4,3 degrees centigrade, summer warm and humid, mean temperature in August 21,8 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1880 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 75%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1800-1900 h
Askana has been developed on the right slope of the narrow gorge of river Bakhvistskali. The name of the village according to one version is linked with the descendant of god of wine.it was also said that during epidemic in Guria only residents of this village survived and after that were named `askanianebi` (in Georgian `having hundred skins).
In Paleogenic age, as a result of sedimentation of underwater volcano ashine sea water, clay was created which turned out on the territory of the village of Mtispiri in the community of Askana, local population used this clay for washing heads and sold it in the open market. In 1916 geologist saw clay on sale and was struck with the idea that it was precious fossil. Clay was called `Askante`.
In 1952-59 clay mining and clay processing factory was built manufacturing two kind of products: bentonite for wineries and molding clay. Today bentonites are used to prepare clay solutions during operation of reconnaissance and employment of drilling appliances, in paper production, in textile and food industries as well as in many spheres of agricultural production. Bentobol production in the form of tablets made of clay from bentonite clay quarries is well-known in medicine. It is administered for curing irritation of mucous membrane of a stomach. Stocks of Askanite clay where is the amount of 10 million tons. Today only its half has remained. To the South-Eastern part of clay quarry there is unique mud and sulfuric water discovered in 1945 which became famous with its unique therapeutic properties.
Resort of Baxmaro
Location: slopes of Meskheti (Ajara-Imereti) range, gorge of river Bakhvistskali
Distance: 130 km away from Rustavi, 120 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 1926-2050 m
Climate: middle mountain and sea climate, winter cold, mean temperature in January – -5,5 degrees centigrade, snow cover remains during 6 months, summer moderately cool and dry, mean temperature in August 13,4 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1500-1600 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 73%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2050-2200 h
Natural treatment factors: sea climate mixed with middle mountain upper belt climate
Types of therapy: passive and active climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: chronic diseases of respiratory system, various types (musculoskeletal, glands, pleura), secondary anemia, neurasthenia
A high-mountain health resort of Bakhmaro is located in the hollow of Guria mountains covered by pine and fir trees. Mount Gardekili, or Lechkis Seri (2520 m) overlooks it from the East. This peak is called by vacationers `Mount of the Rising Sun`. During the rising sun wonderful scenery opens up from the peak.
Until the end of XIX century Bakhmaro was visited only shepherds. shepherds were people who spread the resorts unique therapeutic features.
The unique character of Bakhmaro climate is caused first and foremost by its location. Resort is open to the west and thanks to that, the gorge is invaded by warm sea winds that ensure formation of soft middle mountain upper belt climate. That is why air here is always clean and transparent.
The holiday season in Bakhmaro is short: from the beginning of July until the end of August. Due to tough climate conditions the mountains of Guria by the beginning of September are covered with snow which in wintertime has the height of up to 4-6 meters. Bakhmaro’s natural conditions satisfy all demands of winter resort and there was an opportunity of constructing 8-10 ski trails of different purpose that could operate during 4-5 months in full swing.
Resort of Grigoleti
Location: Western part of Kolkheti lowland
Distance: 315 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 4m
Climate: maritime, humid, subtropical climate, winter mild without snow, mean temperature in January – 5,2 degrees centigrade, summer very warm, mean temperature in August 23.2 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1700-1800 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 79%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1980-2100 h
Natural treatment factors: maritime, humid, subtropical climate and sea water, beach sand, containing big amount of magnetic iron particles
Types of therapy: climate, thalasso and spa therapy, magnetic sand baths
Diseases for treatment: respiratory tracts, TB, nervous and musculoskeletal system (rheumatic and joints) diseases, sand baths activate immune process in the human body and improve metabolism.
Like Black sea resorts of Guria – Ureki and Shekvetili. Health seaside resort of Grigoleti in Lanchkhuti municipality also enjoys magnetic sand beach containing magnetite, titan-magnetite or ilmenite small particles and other rock splinters. Baths of hot sand provide thermal and mechanic influence to the human body activating immune process and improving metabolism, soothe nervous system, are useful for rheumatic and joint diseases. Hot sand bath cure – spa therapy – is very popular in the whole world today as well as proved by plenty of visitors from various countries to seaside resorts of Guria.
the biggest part of the sand beach seaside is accompanied by multi-year pine-tree grove creating a special microclimate and multiplying importance of Grigoleti as a resort area.
As in other seaside regions, recently construction of health resort infrastructure here is under way. In rest-houses and family hotels of Grigoleti there are full-scale conditions for spending comfortable holidays.
Resort of Nabeghlavi
Location: foot-hills of Meskheti range (lesser Kavkasioni mountain system), gorge of river Gubazeuli (tributary of river Supsa)
Distance: 25 km from Chokhatauri, 335 km from Tbilisi
Sea level: 470-490 m
Climate: subtropical, moderately humid climate, winter mild, nearly without snow, mean temperature in January – 3,6 degrees, summer warm, mean temperature in August 20,2 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 1438 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 74%
Duration of annual sunny light: 1800-1900 h
Natural treatment factors: low mountain climate and carbonic acid, hydro-carbonate, sodium mineral waters with general mineralization of 7,5-8,0 g/dm3, contain silicon acid, bromine and other biologically active elements
Types of therapy: mineral water baths and application (drinking) passive climate therapy
Diseases for treatment: stomach and duodenum ulcers, chronic colitis and enter colitis, chronic gastritis, disease caused by metabolism disorders.
Village of Nabeghlavi famous with mineral springs is located on route from Chokhatauri to Bakhmaro. Spa and health resort springs are characterized by unique therapeutic and preventive properties, and their systematic application facilitates cleansing of the body from harmful substances and enrichment with needed minerals. Mineral water is recommended for individuals of any age, without any restrictions.
The spring of Nabeghlavi was discovered in 1905. Researchers studied curing effect of waters and officially assigned Nabeghlavi the status of a resort. In 1958 started factory bottling of the water. Today Georgian table mineral water Nabeghlavi was given ISO 9000:2000 as well as certificate of compliance with the standards of the European Union and it is sold in the markets of more than 20 countries.
Resort of Ureki
Location: South-Western part of Kolkheti lowland
Distance: 320 km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 2-10 m
Climate: subtropical humid climate, winter mild without snow, mean temperature in January – 5,8 degrees centigrade, summer very warm, mean temperature in August 23 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 2000-2100 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 78%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2000 h
Natural treatment factors: maritime climate and sea water, beach sand containing big amount of magnetite iron particles
Types of therapy: thalassotherapy, magnetite sand baths
Diseases for treatment: cardiovascular and central nervous system functional disorders, pulmonary and musculoskeletal and endocrine system diseases
The most famous Gurian seaside resort of Ureki is 20 km away from harbor of Poti. From the north and the south rivers Sepa and Supsa flow, and from the east it is surrounded by Tsvermagara mountain. On the site of today’s settlement was forest so dense and impassable that it was even difficult to herd predators out of the forest. That is why this place was called Ureki (no herding out in Georgian).
Development of forest-dimmed territory has started since 1928. Cultivation of citrus trees and hauling of magnetite sand from the beach aiming at its use in metallurgical production and oil drilling were business developed in the settlement. As a result, of 4-5 m high magnetic sand dunes totally disappeared in 15 years. This process had also positive outcome, as the benefits of Ureki magnetite sand were noticed exactly by the quarry workers. Soon therapeutic properties of sand drew attention of the community, medical professionals and research centers.
Artificially created magnetic field as physiotherapy means is widely used in today’s medicine. .pact of magnetic field improves the quality of biological processes under way in the human body; it has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and tissue-regeneration effect; it strengthens immunity of the body and facilitates longevity of life. Advantage of Ureki as a resort is the point that here we have naturally created low intensity magnetic field. Above that, we have here subtropical climate, sea, sun and unique sand having no clone in the world setting the best conditions for therapy and health improvement. Natural curing factors of Ureki are especially wholesome to deal with children’s ailments and rehabilitation of sportsmen.
Resort of Shekvetili
Location: black sea coast, confluence of river Natanebi
Distance: 325km away from Tbilisi
Sea level: 2-6 m
Climate: subtropical climate, winter mild without snow, mean temperature in January – 4,8 degrees centigrade, summer very warm, mean temperature in August 26.6 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 2096 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 78%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2000 h
Natural treatment factors: maritime, humid, subtropical climate and sea water, beach sand
Types of therapy: thalassotherapy, beach sand
Diseases for treatment: cardiovascular, pulmonary, nervous and endocrine system diseases.
Village of Shekvetili is situated in the Ozurgeti district, near the confluence of river Natanebi, between Kobuleti and Ureki. In medieval ages here was a maritime harbor where garrison of the Ottoman empire had its station.
Nowadays Shekvetili, like Grigoleti, is a health seaside resort with magnetic sand beach and pine-tree grove. Depth of the sea here as low (from the beach within 30 meters’ depth does not exceed 1,5 m) that is especially comfortable for children. Swimming season stars in May when water temperature is 17 degrees, and lasts until mid-October. During this period water temperature swings from 21 to 27 degrees. Velvet magnetic sand of Shekvetili, crystal clear sea water, beaming sun and light breeze from the sea enriched with aroma of coniferous trees create excellent conditions for quiet holidays and revival of health.
Gurian cuisine is similar to Imeretian; poultry and herbal dishes together with corn flour and traditional mchadi are very popular here. Prior to frying fish or baking mchadi, they spread walnut leaves on Ketsi, which gives the distinguished taste to the dish. Besides walnuts, hazelnuts are widely used for seasoning. Gurian pie, a half moon-shaped Khachapuri with boiled eggs stuffing. Gurians also make Janjukha – hazelnut Churchkhela.