Svaneti
Museum collection description: The museum houses materials belonging to famous Georgian alpinist Mikheil Khergiani (1932-1969) There are: alpinist’s memorial things and different exhibits of life Svaneti: icons, furniture, vessels, agrarian work implements, clothes, alpinist’s implements, also paintings and different publication about alpinism.
Mestia is a highland townlet in northwest Georgia, at an elevation of 1.500 meters in the Caucasus Mountains. The townlet is dominated by stone defensive towers of a type seen in Ushguli ("Svan towers"). A typical Svan fortified dwelling consisted of a tower, an adjacent house (machub) and some other household structures encircled by a defensive wall. Unique icons and manuscripts are kept in Mestia Historical-Ethnographic Museum. Mestia is also a center of mountaineer tourism and alpinism.
Ushguli or Ushkuli is a community of villages located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Upper Svaneti, Georgia. The Ushguli villages contain buildings that are part of the UNESCO Heritage site of Upper Svaneti. Altitude claims vary from 2,086 to 2,200 metres. Ushguli is considered to be the highest inhabited village in Europe. It is located at the foot of Shkhara, one of the highest Caucasian summits. About 70 families (about 200 people) live in the area, enough to support a small school. The area is snow-covered for 6 months of the year, and often the road to Mestia is impassable. Typical Svanetian protective towers are found throughout the village. The Ushguli Chapel located on a hilltop near the village dates back to the 12th century.
According to the ancient traditions believers in Georgian highland used to donate valuable gifts to churches. This tradition made Svanetian churches rich of gold and silver vessels and jewelry, hunting and fighting tools and arms, crosses and icons, horns and antlers of wild animals, coins, manuscripts and other valuable old things. The majority of those gifts are produced locally, others are imported from abroad. A deep respect of the local people towards the community and religion kept these treasures untouched until XX century. The government protects today the treasure, which is kept in churches. The major part of the sacred things you can see in the Svaneti Historical-Ethnographic Museum of the town of Mestia.