USHGULI is a marginal area of Upper Svaneti with several hamlets united. It is located on the southern knees of Kavkasioni watershed range of mountains, in the gorge of river Tsaneri (right inflow of river Inguri), 1600-2200 meters above the sea level. By this indicator it is one of the highest human settlements in Europe.

Ushguli is placed in cave-like and well-protected gorge. In the relief of its environs there are both riverside groves and terraces and slant and steep slopes. The average number of precipitations rises to 1200 mm which is very confortable in the existing geographic conditions. On the slopes of northern exposition fir-tree and leafy tree forests are dominant, and on the southern one – secondhand and sub-Alpine meadows. There are several types of landscapes represented in the vicinity of Ushguli which correspond to well-expressed natural conditions in high belts. Especially effective are landscapes of mixed forests on the lower belt of which ever-green Colchis underbush forest is well represented. It is morphed into a high-mountain forest, then into a sub-Alpine and Alpine meadows, sub-nival and nival landscapes. There are fragments of a XII century fortress, several churches, more than thirty ancient fortress abodes and cult construction in Ushguli. Some part of fortress abodes are oldest, IX-X century memorial buildings.

Ushguli is under protection of UNESCO World Heritage list of memorial buildings. Svaneti tower is a widespread defensive construction in Svaneti consisting of 4-6 levels topped with two-layer roof. Svaneti tower used to be built with cobblestone and boulders. The overall height of a tower is 20-25 meters. Generally the main entrance to the tower was on the second level. Levels are connected with each other by a moving wooden staircase available in the interior. On the last level of the tower is arranged a weapons platform with gun emplacements. Svaneti tower is a human abode (murkvami) or it is a stand-alone building. Fortress abode of Svaneti in distinction of tower is lower and more solid and consists of 3 levels. 1 level was used as a living quarter and a barn for livestock. II level was used for economic activity. III level was a loft and was used for defense (for example, Chazhashi Tower). There is so called Love Tower in Svaneti related to a legend: a daughter of a notable Svan noble had a groom who prepared himself for going to war. A bride vowed that she would not marry and would wait for him return safe and sound. A groom died on the battlefield. A bride did not believe the death of a groom and waited for him. To while away the time during waiting period, a father of the bride built a tower at the beginning of a road where a bride spent the whole life waiting for her beau.

Copyright © 2017. N. Elizbarashvili, B. Kupatadze
Copyright © 2017. “Dani” Publishing

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