Georgia is located on the crossroad of Europe and Asia, particularly, in Caucasus. To the west it is bordered by the Black Sea, to the north - by Russian Federation, to the south-east - Azerbaijan, to the south - Armenia and Turkey.
Georgia lies at the oldest transportation crossroad, which connected and connects Northern and Southern, Western and Eastern countries. It was traversing Europe - Asia transport highway - the old Silk Road.
Georgia has a history of 3-4 thousand years. It has undergone all stages of social forms that existed until today. Development of pre-class relations started in the era of the second millennium BC. Myth about Argonauts clearly demonstrates the social-political development of one of Georgian Kingdoms of that period – Colchis and its power. King Pharnavaz has special role in shaping Georgian statehood, who contributed to creation of Georgian alphabet along with country's strengthening in political terms. Georgian is one of most unique alphabets in the world. Along with alphabet adoption of Christianity as state religion has played huge role in Georgian history. Initially, Andrew the Apostle preached Christianity in Georgia, but it was adopted as state religion after preaching of St. Nino, in 337.
Georgian history had undergone various periods of social and cultural development. One of such periods is related to the King David the Builder (1089-1125) who laid grounds for strengthening of Georgian state. Many cultural monuments were build during his time. Gelati Monastery is one of most beautiful among them. David the Builder’s policy was faithfully continued by his great-granddaughter Queen Tamar. Golden Age in Georgia is exactly connected to her name. Many art works were created during her times, among which "The Knight in the Panther's Skin" has special importance in the world literature. Georgia has a big list of heroic kings, from which Heraclius II of Georgia can also be distinguished. At the age of 80 he had participated in more than 100 battles. Treaty of Georgievsk concluded in 1983 with Russia is connected to his name, after which Georgia gained its independence only on 26th of May 1918, which lasted only for 3 years and Georgia remained within Soviet Union until 1991.
Georgian independence, announced in 1991, is most important fact in Georgia’s modern history. This process is mainly related to the name of Zviad Gamsakhurdia - the first president of the country. Rose Revolution on November 23, 2003 has shown to the world Georgian people's aspiration towards democratic principles.
Georgia is located in Caucasus Region, on the crossroad of Europe and Asia. Entire area of the county is 69700 square meter, which is equal to the area of Switzerland. To the north Georgia has common border of 723 km with Russia. To the south-east it is bordered with Azerbaijan (322 Km.), to the south – Armenia (164 Km.) and to the south-west – Turkey (252 Km.).
Georgia is a mountainous country. Likhi Range divides it into eastern and western parts. Historically, wester part of Georgia was known as Colchis and Eastern part as Iberia.
Caucasus Mountains are impressive and their height often are more than 5 000 meters from the sea level. Highest mountain in Georgia is Shkhara – 5 201 meters from the sea level. Following mountains are also distinguished by their heights: Kazbegi (5 047 meters), Tetnuldi (4 974 meters) and Ushba (4 710 meters).
Mainly, Georgia is located under two climatic zones. There is sharp distinction between the climates of eastern and western Georgia. Great Caucasus mountain range plays huge role in climate formation and protects the country from inflow of cold air masses from the north. Small Caucasus partially restrains dry and hot air masses from the south.
Huge part of western Georgia is characterized by humid subtropical climate. This climate is greatly changed along with increase of height from the sea level. The climate on plain is warm and pleasant. The mountain climate is more severe.
Average winter temperature for wester Georgia is 5 Celsius, and during summer 22 Celsius. Eastern Georgia is characterized by transitional climate from humid subtropical to continental.
Most rainy seasons for the region are spring and autumn. Summer and winter are characterized by less precipitations. Snow is usual even in summer for the places, which are located up to 2000 meters from sea level. Average summer temperature for eastern Georgia is 20-24 Celsius and during winter 2-4 Celsius.
Orthodox Christianity in Georgia was adopted as state religion in 327 during King Mirian. However, according to historical sources, Christianity was preached during first century by Apostle Andrew the First, and afterwards, by apostles St. Simon the zealot, St. Bartholomew and St. Matate.
Georgia is distinguished by Christian ecclesiastical architecture, its originality and antiquity. First churches were built by 5th Century (Bolnisi, Urbnisi) and 11-13th Centuries are the era of Golden Age.
Georgian have always been distinguished by religious tolerance. Example of this attitude is Tbilisi, where Georgian church, Muslim mosque, Armenian church and Jewish Synagogue are built together on a one square.
Georgian Language and Alphabet:
Georgian language belongs to the Georgian language group of Iberian-Caucasian language family. It is one of oldest of living languages in the world. In Assyrian manuscript of 5th Century “The Book on People and Country” it is written that only 14 nations out of 73 have their own alphabet, included Georgian (Latin, Slavic, Arabic, Indian, Chines, Japanese, Korean, Ethiopian, Greek, Georgian, Armenian, Jewish, Mongolian and Syrian).
Georgians have their unique alphabet, where number of letters exactly coincides with number of consonants; that is why Georgian orthography is easy, where pronounce and written are identical. Creation of Georgian is named after King Pharnavaz (3rd Century BC).
Georgia has one of oldest and diverse cultures, which is reflected in cultural monuments and various types of art works created BC. Goldsmith and architecture (Vani, Uplistsikhe) were developed Before Christ in Georgian states (Iberia, Kolkheti). Georgian tribes produced metal in Neolithic era, and according to Greek sources, Cochis was rich with gold.
Georgian cultural traditions were mixed with traditions of other countries during historical periods. It has further enriched local civilization. Antique culture had especially influenced old Georgia (Goddess of Victory Nike, Vani).
According to old sources, Georgian Alphabet was created by King Pharnavaz (3-4 Centuries BC). Bilingual Bilingue of second century was found in Mtskheta, Armaziskhevi. Georgian alphabet sample was found in Palestine and dates back to the 30s of the 5th century. The oldest of the inscriptions found on Georgian territory is the inscription of Bolnisi Sioni (493—494).
The first Georgian literary monument is hagiography work "The Martyrdom of Shushanik" (5th century), author of which is Jacob Khutses, Tsurtaveli.
Adoption of Christianity as state religion in fourth century has laid ground to new Christian culture in Georgian. It was most prosperous in IX Century, when following ecclesiastical-cultural monuments were established in south-western Georgia (Tao-Klarjeti, now in Turkey) Khandzta, Opiza, Shatberdi, Ishkhani, Oshki and more. This process was greatly contributed by Grigol Khandzteli, who guided monastic life in that region.
Georgian Folk Music and Dance
Georgian folk music and dance is a great treasure, which distinguishes Georgia from other countries by its uniqueness and culture. Its essence is derived from the depth of millennia. Artistry is one of the most important components of uniqueness of Georgian dance, particularly, men's plastic and facial expressions are emphasized. Georgian dance demonstrates true national characters and spirit. Historical predecessor of folk choreography is “hunting dance” – performed in honor fertility god, "Shushpa". Georgian dances were improved and developed along the time, which is one of most important factors of our country’s awareness to the world. As for the music, according to Russian musicologist F. Belyaeva - “the main characteristic of the Georgian folk music is original and fine choral polyphony, which is also used in sacred music. Georgian folk songs were polyphonic from ancient time." Interestingly, each region has its characteristic musical dialect, number of which is up to 15.
Georgian Hospitality and Feast Traditions
Georgia is known to the world as one of most hospitable countries. Georgian Supra and wine traditions are very popular in the country. Here are the dishes prepared only by Georgians. For example, Khinkali, Adjarian Khachapuri or Churchkhela. They are important parts of Georgian Supra. Structure of Supra is characterized by harmonic mixture of delicious food, wine, toasts, music and dance. Georgians have unique culture of the toasts. It is demonstrated by following saying – “Georgian Supra is kind of academy…” As for the wine, Georgia has rich wine-making culture. “there is know place on the earth except Georgia, where people drink so much and so aromatic wine…” – written by 17th century French traveler Chardin about Georgia.
Georgian Traditional Clothes
Georgian traditional clothes are one of most important parts of Georgian culture, which were created upon lifestyle, history, location and bio-geographical structure of the country. It is reflection of Georgian spirit and character. Georgian Chokha demonstrates distinct feature of local clothes.
Several years ago, cranial of first residents of Eurasian continent were discovered in Dmanisi archaeological excavation, considered to be the first Europeans living one million eight hundred thousand years ago.
Georgian are always proud of their cultural traditions, which has evolved during the centuries. Although, Georgia is a small country, it was always trying to make its contributions to the world civilization development process.
Foreign travelers are amazed by Georgian wine. This amazement is stipulated by the fact that Georgian vine is oldest in the world. Vine and wine has acquired huge importance of the nation and have become indivisible part of Georgian culture.
Wine has important role in Christianity. The bread and wine received during the Eucharist is associated with blood of Jesus Christ. Vine is also mentioned in Christianize legend of Georgia. St. Nino preached Christianity in Georgia with vine bound cross. Turning vine into cross was spiritual ceremony of sharing divine knowledge. It is worth mentioning that there is no “vine cross cult” in any country other than in Georgia. Number of songs are related to the vine, including the distinguished work of the son of David the Builder Prince Demetre - "you are the vineyard" dedicated to the Mother of God. Vine ornaments are found in churches and monasteries. Thus, the relationship between the vine and the man in Georgia is blessed. Wine has always been considered a sacred divine plant in our country.
Georgia is the country of legends. According to the one of oldest and interesting legends, wine was created by god: God was searching for a place in the world to cultivate vine. Finally, he chose the place, where nightingale, lion and pig bones were buried and this was Georgia. When god planted vine and made wine, it had the features of creatures, upon the bones of which vine was cultivated. When a man drinks a little wine, his conversation is pleasant as nightingale’s singing, when he drinks more, he is becoming like lion with an illusion to overcome any obstacles, and when he gets wasted, man is like a pig, easy to understand why. Aka Morchiladze writes “I believe, if there was no wine, Georgia would be something different. If Georgia holds anything, one of them is wine. You drink when you are happy or when you are sad, drink from morning to midnight, wine unifies, separates, wine hides our sadness, awakes sense of artistry, wine helps a man to relax and organize his thinking. Flavor coming out of Kvevri is one of biggest wonders in Georgia. There is nothing better, authentic, older than wine in Georgia. Wine is immortal and nobody can deny it. Much wine is made in California too, but in Georgia it has different meaning, wine is eternal and whole country can be found in it.” Vineyard was spiritual place for Georgian man. It is and will remain source of economic and spiritual strength of Georgia.
Georgian cuisine, culinary style, which derives from the country, has been developing over the centuries. There is huge distinction among regional cuisines. Meat, wine, pureulisa and animal fat are common for eastern Georgia, and western Georgia is distinguished by dishes with mixed sauces of nuts and pepper, and dairy products. Georgia is the homeland for wine, which is cultivated almost everywhere and is made in Kvevri.
National Cuisine of Georgia
Kakheti is popular with vineyards and excellent wine. Traditional dishes of Kakheti cuisine are: Shashlik, Khashlama, khachapuri, and so forth. Kakheti Shashlik is fried on branches of vine, which give to it unique taste. Traditional sweeties, churchkhela and tatara, are made of grape juice – so called mash. Bread loaves of elongated form are baked in Kakheti.
Apokhti is regarded as delicacy in Samtskhe-Javakheti, which is salted and dried meat. Tatarberaki is traditional dish – a finely chopped slices of dough, which is eaten with onion stewed in butter. Honey named -bakmazi is made of mulberry fruit. Pride of Meskhetian cuisine is Tenili cheese. Beekeeping is also developed.
There is a large range of wheat foods and a variety of baked goods,: nuts, somini, chatsekili bread, bazlava bread and other.
French-born catholics are living in several villages of Samtskhe-Javakheti. They eat snails, which are collected from December. Here they preprare gozinaki, where mulberry honey - bakmazs is used instead of honey.
Fruit production is developed in Kartli. Apple and peaches are most popular. The viticulture is also developed. However, cuisine of Kartli is mostly famous for juices. Local traditional dishes are made of cornel, buttermilk and lolo, bread "kharcho". Various types of herbs and vegetables are used here. Especially popular are: beans, potatoes, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, garlic, watercress, coriander, parsley and celery. Kartli is also famous for its excellent pickles. The pick marinades are most distinguished.
Mtiuleti, Pshavi, Khevsureti
Tusheti is eastern mountainous region of Georgia. Most popular dishes here are: Khinkali, gordila (water boiled dough), qaghi (bred for meat), qarma, kontora (type of Khachapuri). Guda cheese is pride of Tushetian cuisine. Pshav-Khevsureti is also famous for Khinkali, which can be prepared by meat and cottage cheese and potatoes also. Khachoerbi is traditional dish for Mtianeti, which is made of cottage cheese dried in Dzogani. Another dish – Khavitsi is made of butter, flour and sugar. It is often put inside sweet cake called Kada. Local beer and vodka – zhapitauri is also very famous.
Imeretian cuisine is popular for “chqinti” cheese and khachapuri. Mchadi and khachapuri are usually baked on a clay pan. Poultry meat is also common for this region. Herbs in Imereti are mixed with nuts and vinegar and grilled meat with garlic sauces. Local people are proud of dish made of animal inward parts – Kuchmachi. Mushroom dishes are also very traditional. Food made of Kama mushroom is distinguished and conserves of manchkhvala is conserved salted during several winters. Kneaded bean is favorite food for local people, which is often prepared with nuts and "kvatsarakhi".
Like Mengrelian, sulguni is traditional for Svaneti cuisine. Chvishtari is also traditional, which is dish made of corn flour and sulguni mixture and Kubdari – finely minced fried meat stewed in bread. Tashmijabi is also made here, which potato puree is made with cheese. Svanetian salt should exceptionally be noted. Also spices, mixed with pepper and other fragrant plants, give amazing taste to food.
Racha’s cuisine is famous for shchkmeruli, beans and lobiani, which is made of ham mixed with beam. Lobiani, just like bread, is baked in thone – Georgian bakery.
Adjarian cuisine is most diverse, with mixture of hard mountainous and soft seaside aromas. Adjarian cuisine is also influenced by Turkish culinary culture. Adjarian sweeties are: Baklava and Shakarlama. Dairy products are common for mountainous Adjara, they are greasy and heavy. Foreign spice, dried coriander and pepper are known from seaside aromas. However, most popular Adjarian dishes are: Borano (cheese melted in butter), Chirbuli (breakfast made of eggs and nuts) and Sinori (dish made of dried plates of dough and buttermilk).
Sulguni is the beauty of Mengrelian cuisine, which is used for preparation of various dishes. Mengrelia is distinguished by delicious dishes, such as: Ghomi (thick corn porridge), Elarji (sulguni melted in ghomi), gebjalia (mint mixed with cheese roll), jurjani (mixed intestines). Mengrelians (likewise other regions of western Georgia) are famous for spicy dishes. Mengrelian Ajika and Tkemali are distinguished. Mengrelian khachapuri is one of famous types of this dishes along with Adjarian and Imeretian. It enjoys popularity in Georgian restaurants too.
Like Mengrelianas Abkhaz kitchen is rich with various sauces, walnuts and pepper mixed dishes. Daily dish in Abkhazia is Abista - corn flour porridge, which is eaten with beans, cheese and meat. Ashvchapani (kneaded cheese) is another traditional Abkhazian dish.
Like in Imereti, poultry meat dishes, vegetation, corn flour and traditional mchadi are common for Gurian kitchen. People in Guria put leaves of vine and walnut on the „Ketsi“ to roast mchadi or fish, which gives special aroma to these dishes. Walnuts and nuts are widely used to be mixed with dishes. Gurian patty is very famous too – it is a khachapuri of crecent form, with boiled egg inside, which is cut into two. Gurians also prepare Janjukha – Churchkela with nuts inside.
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