WHAT TO DO IN THE SAMEGRELO REGION
KOLKHETI NATIONAL PARK
This National Park is located in western Georgia. It covers the eastern zone of the Black Sea coast and the basin of Paliastomi Lake.The park has been established with the purpose of protecting and maintaining wetland ecosystems.
Kolkheti National Park and Palias-tomi Lake are famous throughout the Caucasus for their abundant bird life and unique scenery. In addition, trekking, camping and horseback riding are possible in the Tsalenjikha forests or along theTekhuri River.
There are lots of bird species in the territory of the Kolkheti National Park. Bird watching is available with special equipment from special observation posts arranged along the marshes and rivers. Visitors also have the possibility to observe water and marsh birds from a boat.
Trekking is available in many places in the region. It is possible between the river-beds of the Dedabera and the Pichori at the Murkani line. Tourists can also enjoy amazing hiking tours at the outfall of the river Rioni.
Hunting is allowed in the territory of the Kolkheti National Park with special permission from the administration.
RESORTS IN THE SAMEGRELO REGION
Menji, a balneological resort in Senaki is situated in the Tsivi River gorge, 29 meters above sea level. The climate is subtropical, with mild, snowless winters (the temperature in January averages +5C), and warm, moderately damp summers (the temperature in August hovers at about +23C). Precipitation during the year totals 148 cm and the sun shines for about 2160 hours. The resort's main medical highlight is its sulphur hydrogen chlorine-sodium mineral water, which cures several disorders including gynaecological, peripheral nervous system and cardiovascular diseases. The resort season here lasts the whole year round.
Lebarde is another balneological resort located in Martvili on the Egrisi Mountain Range, at 1600 meters above sea level. Winters are mild with an average January temperature of around 4C, and summers are quite cool with an average August temperature of 16C. This middle mountain climate with mineral waters are good for people who have problems with their respiratory and digestive organs. The resort season lasts from June to October. 'Balneology is the treatment of disease through bathing
Lugela mineral water comes from the gorge of the Khobistskali River, located in the upper part of the Samegrelo range at 560 meters above sea level. Within a distance of three kilometres from Lugela there is the famous resort of Mukhuri. The water is transparent and gas-free with high level of minerals. This is why this particular water does not freeze even at -25 C. One litre of this water contains 54.9 grams of chlorine-calcium.
WHAT TO SEE IN THE SAMEGRELO REGION
"In Phasis there are people speaking 60 different languages," wrote the ancient Greek historian Strabo about Poti. "Phasis" is mentioned in the annals of history as early as the 8th c. B.C. Today the city is as lively and busy as it was centuries ago, when it laid on the Silk Road, at the crossroads of Asia and Europe: activities in the city have not changed for centuries as it is still the main port and trade centre of the country.
Samegrelo is rich in karst* caves, many of which are located in the Migaria mountain system, among which Zesnakhe, Potoltsvena or "Fall of the Leaves", and the Velvet Caves are the most well-known. The caves, though lacking in tourist infrastructure, represent a real paradise for speleologists and sportsmen with their already identified as well as numerous unexplored caverns. Lake Tobavarchkhili (2643m) deserves particular mention. It is only possible to reach this glacial lake on foot (20km) from Chkhorotsku. *karst-a landscape shaped by the dissolving action of water on carbonate bedrock
Nokalakevi (literally meaning "the place where a town was") is a village and archaeological site of Samegrelo. In Georgian chronicles, Nokalakevi is called "Tsikhegoji - the fortress of Kuji." According to Georgian chronicles, the fortress was built by Kuji - duke of Egrisi and Svaneti in the 3rd c. B.C. It is located in the district of Senaki. Presumably it was the location of the mythical city of Aia, capital of the Kingdom of Colchis. The Golden Fleece was said to be kept in this very place. Archaeological excavations have unearthed several different layers of civilization on the territory of Nokalakevi. The oldest layers date back from the 8th-7th cc. B.C. Different valuable archaeological materials were unearthed on Nokalakevi's territory. Some of the recovered remnants are of wine vessels, golden, silver, bronze and glass adornments, and diverse pottery and ceramic objects. The ruins of ancient palaces, Christian churches, baths, and tunnels have also been identified and preserved.
In the 7th century the monastery of Saint Martyrs was built in the village of Martvili. Its base was a huge oak tree that for centuries served as a pagan idol. People used to worship this oak as a god of fertility, fruitfulness and prosperity. In the 1st century, one of Christ's Apostles - Andrew the First - converted the natives to Christianity who then cut down the oak tree and built a church named after Andrew the First in its place. Martvili-Chkondidi Cathedral was built late in the 7th century. Revered as a gem of Georgian masonry, this cathedral rests on the roots of the old oak tree. The church is cross-domed, and paintings on the walls date back to the 6th and 7th centuries. A two-storey cathedral was built next to the church in the 10th century.
In the Middle Ages the Martvili Monastery was a centre of culture and education. It attracted many writers, translators and philosophers.
Rukhi Castle is located in the village of Rukhi, on the left bank of the En-guri River. It was built in 17th century by the duke of Samegrelo Levan Dadiani II and served as the major fortification for dukes of Samegrelo. The castle consists of a citadel and an inner yard. In the north and south of the yard there are two towers.
One can enter the castle throughthe gate located on the first floor of the tower built into the fortified wall of the castle.
Dadiani Palace, belonging to the former dukes of Samegrelo, is located in Zugdidi. In 1921 a museum was founded in the palace housing items and archives of the palace's rulers. The museum complex consists of the palaces of Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani and Niko Dadiani (19th c.), a church, and a decorative garden laid out by the Dadianis. Niko Dadi-ani's Palace is beautified by a stone balcony and an enormous ballroom (the largest in Georgia). The palace garden is planted with unique trees and bushes, brought from different parts of the world.
In 1850 with the initiative of Prince David Dadiani a museum was opened in their palace. It housed a collection of ancient numismatic items, European military weapons of the Middle Ages, paintings, and works of fine art.
Today more than 50,000 rare exhibits are on display at the museum. Among its collection of relics of European monarchs and imperial families there is a death mask of Napoleon Bonaparte. The museum also houses the relics of Christian saints, including the Shroud of St. Mary, which was brought to Georgia in 1453. It was first kept in the Bedia Church and then in the Khobi Church. Later, in 1533, it was brought to the palace by Levan Dadiani I. The protected arm of St. Marine parts of St Kvirike, St George and John the Baptist are also here.
The Tsaishi Cathedral of St. Mary is administered by the Zugdidi and Tsaishi Eparchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church. The domed church was built in the 13th -14th centuries. The church was destroyed by an earthquake and was rebuilt in the 17th century. For centuries Tsaishi Church was a centre of education. The oldest part of the church is located outside the wall and dates back to the 11th century, judging by its interior.
THE TSALENJIKHA CATHEDRAL
The Tsalenjikha Cathedral Church (10th -11th) stands on a hill outside Tsalenjikha. A bilingual Greek-Georgian inscription on the southwestern pillar of the church reveals that the interior of the church was frescoed by Cyrus Emanuel Eugenicus, a Byzantine artist from Constantinople. The Megrelian Prince Levan Dadiani II and his wife Nestan-Darejani are buried in the western area of the church.
Zugdidi Church is one of the city's symbols. In historical chronicles, the church is first mentioned in the 14th century, but some researchers consider it to have been built in the 10th century. Originally the church was domed and had a symmetric shape. It was so small that it is thought to have been built for monks only.
Khobi Church is located on the left bank of the river Khobistskali, three kilometers from the city of Khobi, in the village of Nojikhevi. In old times it was called The Khobi Monastery. The Khobi Monastery is an architectural complex consisting of a church, a palace, a bell tower, a wall and the ruins of buildings. The wall was renovated in the 1970s. The stone church tower, with seven windows, is one of the biggest bell towers in Georgia. The church tower was once covered in frescoes. Inside the wall stands a church which got its final shape in the 13th -14th cc. The church is decorated with ornaments and frescoes, which have been highly damaged.
Kortskheli Church stands on a hill eight kilometers northeast of Zug-didion the road to Tsalenjikha. From there one can see the mountains of Svaneti and Abkhazia, Samegrelo, the lowland of Kolkheti, and the Black Sea. According to historical sources, the church was built and frescoed in the 17th century by Levan Dadiani II.
This church was built especially for an icon of Vlakerni Virgin Mary. The icon, as well as the waistband of the Virgin Mary, was regarded as the most sacred items of Samegrelo. The icon was taken to Russia and given to Aleksandre I with the hope that the emperor would one day return this relic to Georgia again. Indeed, the emperor returned this icon along with the finances for building a church to Levan Dadiani.
THE POTI CATHEDRAL
The Guria-Samegrelo eparchy church was established in Poti during the 19th century. The military governor of Kutaisi established a committee for the building of a Cathedral on June 17th, 1895, with the permission of the Russian Commander. The church was meant to be built in a Georgian architectural style, but the Russian government denied this project, and thereafter the architects Zelenko and Marfeldi designed a new project. According to that proposal, it was intended that the church be a small version of the Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople with place enough for 2000 parishioners inside. On the north side of the church icons were made in the Greek-Byzantium style, the south side icons were in a Georgian-Byzantium style, and the central side icons were in a Russian-Byzantium style. Among these icons were Saint Nino and Saint David the Builder.
In 1932 communist governors of Poti decided to turn the church into a theatre. In 2005 the church was given to the patriarchy. Now it is returning to its original function.
Dadiani Palaces Historical and Architectural Museum
2 Z. Gamsakhurdia Str. Zugdidi Tel: (+995 215) 5 06 42, 5 1694
The museum complex includes: palaces of the Samegrelo queen Ekaterine Chavchavadze-Dadiani and Prince Niko Dadiani, court church, and the botanic garden. In the museum are kept: samples of the I c. B.C. - XIX A.D. goldsmith works; archaeological materials representing antique period Greekand Georgian culture; collection of Christian sacred objects, samples of European applied art; relics of Samegrelo princes, collection of paintings of Russian, French, English painters, etc.
Chkhorotsku Local Museum
1 Stalini Str. Chkhorotsku Tel: (+995 217) 2 11 03
The museum houses collections of archaeological items, chronological frames include Paleolithic, Neolithic, Early, Middle and Late Bronze time periods. Among late feudal period objects are XV-XVI c.c. ecclesiastic books, seals, manuscripts, icons, ornamental details of church decorations.
Poti Museum of Colchian Culture
9, 26 May Str. Poti Tel: (+995 293) 2 35 02 The museum funds represent archaeological discoveries of the historical Kolkheti, the chronological frames of the collections are III Millennium B.C. - VII-VIII c.c. A.D. There are significant collection objects made of non-ferrous metals, numismatic collection; ethnographic collection; documents and photographs of the history of Poti.
Parmen Zakaraia Nokalakevi Archaeological Museum-Reserve
Village Nokalakevi, Senaki District Tel: (+995 213) 5 00 60; Mob: (+995 99) 36 63 40
The Museum-Reserve was established in Nokalakevi is one of the most important monument of the early medieval times Georgia. The earliest archaeological strata in Nokalakevi are dated to VIII-VM c.c. B.C. In Nokalakevi rich burials of Helenisthic period (III-I B.C.) were also discovered. In the area there were also discovered palaces, Christian churches, bathes, cistern, tunnel and other kinds of household and fortification buildings.
Givi Eliava Martvili Local Museum
4 Givi Eliava Str. Martvili Tel: (+995 218) 2 12 38; Mob: (+995 99) 55 44 37
The Museum-Reserve houses collections of archaeological materials of the Early Stone Age and the Bronze Age. The rich numismatic collection of IV-II c.c. B.C. There are also collection of XVIII-XIX c.c. manuscripts and charters, The museum houses a library of XIX-XX c.c. editions and collection of paintings of XX c. Georgian artists.