WHAT TO DO IN GURIA
In the eastern part of Guria, the lowlands become mountains and swampy forests are replaced by bushy evergreen forests, while beech forests are found in the mountains and pine and fir trees can be found in higher altitudes. Sub-alpine forests include Ponto Oak trees. Sub-alpine and alpine meadows are used as pastureland.
Nature is diverse in Guria - it is characterized by lowlands as well as mountains. The seashore has dunes, which are one of the reasons for the region's swamps and lakes. Guria is surrounded by Paliastomi Lake from the north and the Kolkheti (Colchis) National Reservation from the west. These territories are rich with swamp plants and are unique due to a large diversity of birds.
Archaeological artifacts discovered in modern Guria show that life flourished here many centuries ago. A large union of Colchis tribes lived in Guria as early as the 13th century BC. During 700-600 BC there was a strong and independent early Georgian state: the Colchis Kingdom (the site of the Golden Fleece). In the 1st century Guria became part of a new Georgian entity: Egrisi (also known as "Lazika"). The territory surrounding Ureki is very interesting for its archaeological importance. Artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages have been discovered at the mouth of the Supsa River. The remains of ancient burial mounds have also been found in the dunes along the Black Sea where Roman coins dating from the 3rd-4th centuries were found here as well as garnet buttons.
Horse riding is very popular in Guria. Gurian people are traditionally very good horse-riders. In Guria, just like throughout western Georgia, people used to take part in a group horse-riding game - Isindi. This game requires a high degree of professionalism in horse-riding and good physical preparation. Back in the day, between 12-20 riders could end up in the same arena. The riders were armed with 15 meter long spears. If a spear touched an opposing rider or his horse, the touching team would receive winning points. For safety reasons the spears were covered. The game was overseen by a trainer and observed by numerous fans. Winners were well-respected and a feast was held after the game, where people performed polyphonic songs and charming dances, made toasts and created new jokes.
Music and singing play a vital role in Gurian culture and the Gurians helped develop the world famous Georgian polyphonic style of singing. Gurian songs generally consist of three or four independent melodies. "Krimanchuli" is one of the best examples of the Georgian polyphonic traditions. The word "Krimanchuli" means "twisted iron" while"Krini"is a high voiced man. Tourists will have the opportunity to learn singing and join local singers.
The economy in Guria is agriculturally based. In addition to citrus fruits, tea, nuts, grapes and corn all play an important role in the region. The cultivation of vineyards in Guria dates back to antiquity. The people of Guria are amazingly hospitable. They treat every guest with tasty dishes, using walnuts and hazelnuts to bring a unique flavour to local products. Some of region's special dishes include: Satsivi (chicken served cold in a walnut sauce); Gomi (a corn dish that resembles grits, served with cheese); Gurian khachapuri (cheese and hard boiled egg baked in bread the shape of a crescent moon); Kharcho (a hot meat stew); Mchadi (corn bread); Pkhali (made from young spinach leaves pureed together with spices); Khachapuri (baked or fried cheese pies); and Chiri (dry fruit).
Gurians are known for their craft and building skills. They are also uncommonly skilled in leatherwork and known for their comfortable saddles, baskets, and straw hats.
HUNTING AND FISHING
Hunting is an integral part of life for Gurian people. It used to serve as one of the tools for physical development and military training. Hunting was also used as a competition between relatives and neighbours. If someone accidentally killed wild or domestic animals or birds that were no good for eating, he would always be the subject of good humoured jokes from friends and relatives. It is customary to hunt with falcons and hounds.
There are several resorts in Guria, including Ureki, Shekvetili and Grigoleti, which occupy 25 kilometres of coastline along the Black Sea. Ureki is especially popular, since its sandy beaches contain a large amount of magnetite particles.There is also an increased magnetic field here.
One of the best mountainous resorts in Georgia is in Guria, the village of Bakhmaro. It is located in Chokhatauri district, on Meskheti Mountain range, 2000 meters above sea level, and is known for its fresh air: a mixture of the sea and mountain air, resulting in a unique local climate. Bakhmaro is recommended for those who have health problems and can benefit from clean air and healthy food. Nabeglavi resort, also in the Chokhatauri district, is known for its mineral waters. "Nabeglavi" spring water, as well as treatment water, is bottled here. The water is popular in the international market as well. Surebi, the historical region of Guria, and its villages are of special interest: Zemo (upper), Shua (middle) and Kvemo (lower) Surebi. All of these villages are located on the upper side of the Supsa River - Surebi Gorge.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE GURIA REGION
There are number of architectural masterpieces along with churches, monasteries and temples in Guria. Some of the most significant ones are: The Church of Archangels of Jumati Monastery Complex, including its belfry and other structures on the monastery property, near Lanchkhuti. A medieval temple on the monastery grounds was painted in the 16-18th centuries. The Church of Archangels was also a residence for the Archbishop of Guria. Askana Temple boasts of several layers of construction; the first addition dates back to the early feudal period, while the newest changes occurred in the 19th century. Likhauri Church (Middle Ages) and its belfry were constructed in 1422. Other historic monuments of interest include Gurieli Church and Palace, the artificial caves of Khoreti and Gaguri, Bukistsikhe Castle, Goraberejouli Castle (17th century) and Church, Upper Erketi Church, "Udabno" Monastery Complex, etc.
SHEMOKMEDI MONASTERY COMPLEX
The village of Shemokmedi is located near Ozurgeti, on the shores of the river Bzhuzha. During the Middle Ages, Shemokmedi Monastery was one of the biggest cultural-educational centres in the region. Its temple housed a very rich library with a lot of manuscripts and golden engravings. Shemokmedi Monastery Complex includes the Temple of Divinity, which served as the residence for archbishops and burial for Gurieli nobles. The second temple of the complex is a church dating back to the 16th century. The church is known for its dome, which was specially built by Vakhtang I to place an icon brought from Zar-zma Monastery. Therefore, the church was called Zarzma. Shemokmedi Eparchy was founded in the 15th century and was one of the eparchies of Guria. Shemokmedi bishops held the title of Metropolits or archbishop and represented the highest religious governance for those living inbetween the rivers of Supsa and Choloki.
Ozurgeti Historical Museum
1 Giorgi Chanturia Str. 3500,Ozurgeti, Tel: (+995 296) 7 58 277 6 58 27
Ozurgeti Fine Art Gallery
6 Shota Rustaveli Str. 3500, Ozurgeti Tel: (+995 296) 7 45 42 Mob: (+995 99) 17 75 64