Thursday, July 19, 2012

#959 Svaneti, Georgia

Hidden high in the western Caucasus mountains of Georgia, well above the snow line in winter, is the Svaneti valley. It's picturesque steep hills criss-crossed with cool creeks and gushing mountain streams, the summer pastures green and lush but the mountain peaks always snow-capped.
Svaneti's mystique lies in its history. Its inaccessibility provided a safe haven for those in the valleys and plains below in times of conflict and war, particularly during the time of the marauding Mongols. Valuables, jewelry and riches were brought up the valley and stored in special towers, accessible only through one door, so easily defended. The towns of Mestia, and the villages of Lenjeri and Latali hold towers and relics of this time, with the prescence of many simple stone towers, still maintained in old fashioned ways, where the stone walls are black with soot from fires and the wooden frames and animal husbandry haven't changed in centuries. The UNESCO World Heritage listed tower-houses are starting to crumble, but those that remain are a connection to stories and heritage and a testament to isolation.

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