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A Regional Guide to Georgia
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A Regional Guide to Georgia

Picture of Baia Dzagnidze
Writer
Updated: 31 March 2018
Georgia is divided into several autonomous republics, municipalities, and regions. Each area is unique in its own way, be it a cuisine, historical sights, a difference in customs. This article will help you to understand some of the main regions of Georgia a bit better before you come to visit the county.

Adjara

Adjara is one of the autonomous republics of Georgia, along with Abkhazia. Located along the Black Sea coast, the area is full of ravines and mountains. Here, the climate is warm and mild compared to other regions of the country. Besides, the area offers diverse fauna, centuries-old architecture, natural parks, lakes, and archeological sights.

Batumi is its central city, famous among locals as a bustling summer vacation destination where you can enjoy a wide array of dining venues, modern art installations and the regional delicacy adjarian khachapuri – a boat-shaped cheese pie topped with raw egg and butter.

Adjarian cuisine adds very important traits to the diversity of Georgian meals. The highlands of the region are characterized by long winters, therefore the dairy products are the main ingredient of local cuisine. Meals vary from vegetable dishes to meat and fish. Even though it’s a coastal region, Georgia lacks seafood meals in its cookery.

Adjaruli Khachapuri
Adjaruli Khachapuri | © Baia Dzagnidze

The region is also known well for its local folk and dances, where Gandagana dance is the most favorable and commonly performed dance at various celebrations, be it a friends get-together, birthday, or a wedding.

Guria

The Guria region is the smallest of the country’s regions, however, it is still rich in cultural, historical, and natural sights. Part of the region borders with the Black Sea and another part to Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti. The area is famous for its mountain resort Bakhmaro, a rugby sport called Leloburti, and breathtaking views from the Gomismta.

Gurian Horse Riders showed off their skills in Georgia, America, and Europe.

Gurian_Riders_in_USA2
Gurian Horse riders in the USA | Author is unknown / WikiCommons

In 1892, the rider visited England and participated in a Wild West Show of the popular American Showman Buffalo Bill Cody, leading to another 30 years of collaboration between them and Cody. However, the Communist revolution in Russia blocked them from their participation in the West and arrested them for being American spies.

Their temperament nature is well shown in their three-voice polyphonic songs. Regional musical dialect is mainly based on a Georgian musical pattern but has elements of a unique musical language. They are extremely complicated and distinctive, with no analogies in other Georgian regions.

Agriculture-wise, corn has always been the main source of wealth for citizens of Guria, therefore one of their main “meal” is mchadi, a corn mill “bread” they use instead of a regular wheat one.

Georgians all-time favorite author of the 20th century, Nodar Dumbadze, was from this part of the country. His humorous novels are based on the characters of the region and perfectly portrays those characteristics Gurians are known for.

Samegrelo Zemo-Svaneti

As the name suggests, the region includes two historical provinces of Zemo Svaneti, or “Upper Svaneti” in English, and Samegrelo. Covering around 7,441 sq. km (2,872 sq. miles) of land featuring hundreds of archeological and historical monuments, gorgeous hiking opportunities, picturesque lakes, and nature preserves.

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Overlooking the Caucasus Mountain Range in Svaneti | © Baia Dzagnidze

The cuisine of the region is quite diverse compared to other regions of the country. While some of the meals of Samegrelo are made from corn millet, the Zemo Svaneti area features mostly meat, dough, and potatoes in their meals. They also extensively use cheese in their dishes. Some great dishes to try are elarji, gebjalia, and kupati in Samegrelo, while Tashmijab, Kubdari, and Svanetian salt in Svaneti.

Kubdari
Kubdari – the meat pie | © Georgian Recipes / WikiCommons

Both regions, Zemo Svaneti and Samegrelo, have their own languages, very different from each other and the modern Georgian the rest of the country speaks.

Imereti

Imereti is another significant region of the country, rich in history, natural wonders, and culture. In the early Middle Ages, the ancient kingdom of Egrisi existed on the territory of current Imereti. Even though the area was frequently invaded with Turks or Russians, the main sights of the area still remain.

Kutaisi, Georgia | © Valerii Iavtushenko/Shutterstock
Kutaisi, Georgia | © Valerii Iavtushenko/Shutterstock

The regional capital is Kutaisi, boasting a wide range of possibilities for its visitors, starting from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, continuing to speleology caves, dinosaur footprints, gorgeous canyons, spa resorts, and the natural wonder of Katski Pillar, to name just a few. And for those of you who like to feel a bit of adrenaline, try riding the old Soviet rope-way in Chiatura.

Imeretian dialect is one of the biggest dialectic units, divided into Higher and Lower Imeretian sub-dialects, spoken in lowlands and highlands of the area.

New Parliament Building in Kutaisi
New Parliament Building in Kutaisi | © Berdo Maghularia / Flickr

In terms of the agriculture, the region is known for apiculture, because of the favorable conditions for it. Generally, beekeeping in Georgia is a very old tradition which has been started around 4th century B.C. Domestic beekeeping has been the main form of apiculture, which usually includes artificial beehives and specially organized apiaries.

The region is also a homeland for many famous Georgian poets such as Galaktion Tabidze, Titsian Tabidze, and Akaki Tsereteli to name a few. Some of their works have even been translated into English if you’d like to learn more about their work.

Kakheti

Kakheti is a relatively newly formed region of Georgia. Established only in the 1990s, the current region includes the historical province of Kakheti and a mountain area of Tusheti. Famous for splendid landscapes, traditional winemaking method in clay jars, called qvevri, beautiful cities of Telavi and Signaghi, as well as snow-covered peaks.

Village Dartlo in Tusheti
Village Dartlo in Tusheti | © Baia Dzagnidze

You can explore various monasteries such as David Gareji, Nekresi, or Alaverdi Cathedral, which is the second tallest religious venue after the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Tbilisi. Another important pilgrimage site for many locals is Bodbe, a place where St. Nino, an evangelist who brought Christianity to the country, is buried.

Telavi city
Telavi city | © Utskhography

The area is also home to Chavcavadze Estate in Tsinandali. Prince Alexander Chavchavadze was one of the most influential figures in Georgian history, making his mansion a must-visit place here. You can wander through the beautiful gardens, learn more about the family through the exhibited memorabilia, and even try wine from the Prince’s winery. And those of you who are more inclined to try more local wines, many wine producer companies or family-run wineries have facilities here and offer tours to their vineyards and tasting ceremonies.

In terms of the cuisine, the region is famous for grilled meat skewers called mtsvadi. What makes this dish so delicious is that Kakhetians use vine as the main source of fire when frying the meat. Their cuisine is more meat driven with fewer vegetables. Moreover, you’ll see strange, candle-shaped things hanging in various shops in Tbilisi, do know that they are called churchkhela. It is a dessert-type of a snack made from walnuts and grape juice that originated from Kakheti.