About Georgia

Historically Georgia has found itself on the margins of great empires – its territory a desirable land of the great Asian empires, from the Arabs to Tamerlane, from the Mongols to the Ottomans from at least the 1st century B.C. through the 18th century. Despite numerous invasions and wars Georgia managed to unite during X-XII centuries. David Agmashenebeli (The Builder, 1089-1125), Georgia’s greatest and most prominent king, unified Georgia in the 12th century. This period of Georgia’s golden age – also the rule of Queen Tamar (1184-1213) – was a time of cultural renaissance, monastery building, fresco and ornament design. Richly decorated churches sprang up across the newly unified nation – some even high up in the mountains.

The last conqueror, Russia, started annexation of Georgia in 1801. Georgia spent almost 200 years of its recent history being part of the Russian empire; first at Russia’s province (guberniya), then as a Soviet republic. During this period Georgia managed to retain its language, culture and distinctive qualities. In 1991, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the U.S.S.R. In 1992 Georgian became the 179th member of the UN various international and regional organizations.

Due to its large areas of uninhabited forests and remote high alpine zones Georgia has preserved more species of animals than any country in Europe. This includes a number of endemic species – of which perhaps the most notable is the Caucasian Tur. The western Capra Caucasica is unique for its splendid laterally curved horns – representations of which are found in ancient Colchean jewellery and pottery

Georgian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world and it has its own distinctive alphabet. First preserved samples of Georgian writing date back to the 5th century, including inscriptions in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross in Palestine, in Bethlehem desert and Sioni cathedral in Bolnisi.

Georgians call themselves “Kartvelebi”, their land “Sakartvelo”, language “Kartuli”. These names are derived from a pagan chief called Kartlos, said to be father of all Georgians. The foreign name Georgia used in many languages in the world is derived from Persian “Gurj” via the Arabic “Jurj”. As the spelling was influenced by the Greek root “georg”, the word has been mistakenly supposed to have come from a cognate such as St. George (the saint patron of the country).

The ancient world knew the inhabitants of eastern Georgia as Iberians, from the Caucasian Kingdom of Iberia – thus confusing the geographers of antiquity, who thought this name applied only to the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula.

  • Art: Georgian Culture has evolved over the country’s long history, providing it with a unique national culture. Georgia, at the crossroads of civilization, has always been steeped in culture. With its distinctly national characteristics as well as an ability to borrow from cultures as diverse as Persian, Roman and Russian, Georgian art is a unique blend of different influences that still manages to be innately Georgian
  • Architecture: Georgia is defined by an unusually original architecture, both religious and secular. Buildings ‘grow’ harmoniously out of spectacular landscapes. Hilltop churches and castles echo the shape of the mountains behind; cave towns dig houses ecologically into the earth, all adding to the remarkable beauty of Georgia.
  • Georgian Dance and Music: In many parts of the world, traditional dances can seem like boring stage shows only performed for tourists. In Georgia, the opposite is true. Traditional dance is as much a part of life as it ever has been. Nowhere else will you see ordinary people jump up and perform amazing, acrobatic dance steps that haven’t been changed over the centuries. Georgia is known for its reach and unique folk dance and music. The Georgia State Dance Company, founded in the 1940s, has travelled around the world performing spectacular renditions of traditional Georgian dances. According to the unique folk dance tradition male performers dance on their toes without help of special blocked shoes. Georgian folk music, featuring complex, three / four part, polyphonic harmonies, has been a subject of special interest among musicologists. Most Georgia folk songs are peculiar to each region of Georgia.
  • Jewellery – Enamel production has been known in Georgia since early times. The art reached particular prominence in the Middle Ages when its most refined and difficult technique, cloisonne enamel, was developed. The samples surviving from that period, without exception, are executed in this technique by using gold-and-silver alloy, commonly known as electrum.

Georgian national cuisine is remarkable for an abundance of various kinds of meat, fish and vegetables, various sorts of cheese, pickles and pungent/hot seasonings. Very often served dishes are: roast suckling pig, beef and chicken grilled or casseroled in various sauces, chakhokhbili – a stew involving herbs, tomatoes and paprika. Meals usually start with an array of hot and cold dishes which may include spicy grilled liver and other insides, lobio (beans and walnut salad), marinated aubergines, pkhali (young spinach leaves, pounded together with spices), khachapuri (consisting of layers of flat bread alternated with melting cheese), not to mention assorted fresh and pickled vegetables and cured meat (basturma). Nobody forgets Georgia’s cuisine.

An unusual phenomenon for foreign visitors is the Georgian table, which has a deeper implication than ordinary meal. The table is led by “tamada”, who proposes traditional toasts. The head of the table “Tamada” is elected by proposed by the host. The Tamada must be a man with humor, ability for improvisation and a philosopher’s wisdom.

Each toast is interpreted by table members before drinking it. Georgian toasts are numerous but the most important and popular are the toasts to the guests, friends, ladies, family members, relatives, mother land, those, who passed away, etc. The feast proceeds among jokes and is accompanied by a dance competition, table songs and music, quotations and aphorisms.

Georgia has more original varieties of grape than any other country – over 500.

The living culture of wine production extends into virtually every Georgian family. Step into any home in the wine-growing region of Kakheti and be greeted with a delicious glass (or two) of home-made ‘gvino.’ For thousands of years grapes have been placed in large, earthenware vessels called Qvevri. Buried in the ground up to their necks and kept in wine vaults called ‘marani’, these are then sealed and left for three to four months.


Tbilisi has been the capital of Georgia for fifteen hundred years. Legend places the city’s foundation at the feet of ‘King Gorgasali’s pheasant.’ Back in the 5th century the king, when out hawking, caught a pheasant on the wing that fell directly into one of the hot springs. Apparently by the time of retrieval the bird had been cooked and was ready to serve. Thus the king ordered the city to be built around the spring. The word Tbilisi derives from the Georgian ‘tbili’ which means warm, referring to the natural springs.

Tbilisi is the hub of the country and the place where Georgian gravitate for action and excitement. Tbilisi brims with history and has a dramatic setting on hillsides either side of the swift Mtkvari River. Its Old Town at the narrowest part of the valley is still redolent of an ancient Eurasian crossroads, with narrow, winding alleys, religious building, old balconied houses and caravansaries. The old town still has its Jewish, Azeri and Armenian quarters. The mosque, synagogue, Armenian and Georgian orthodox churches are all within a stone’s throw.

Tbilisi is also a modern city moving forward to the 21st century after the strife and stagnation of the late 20th. Here is a wide and growing array of accommodations, places to eat, busy cultural scene and nightlife, shopping malls and leisure facilities. Tbilisi is still beating heart of the Caucasus and should not be missed by any visitor.