Photographer's Note

Ushguli is the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe, located in Svaneti, at the feet of Shkhara, one of the highest Caucasian summits.
Ushguli is one of the communities in Svaneti and not a village as it is considered generally. This community contains 4 villages: Chvibiani, Murkmeli, Jibiani and Chajashi. 70 householders (200 people) live in these villages. These villages are 2060m-2200m above sea level and they are considered as the highest populated places in Europe. These villages are situated in the gorge of Enguri. Although the nearest community – Kala is located only in7 km from these villages, it is still very difficult to get there in Winter. That is why Ushguli is cut from the rest of the Svanetian populated areas.Although Ushguli has always been the community without any patrons, there have always been several volunteers who wanted to invade this community. However, nobody could do this because it always ended with murdering. In 1853 upper Svanetian communities became the subordinate to Russian Empire which called them “Free Svanetians”.
In the villages of Ushguli there are still some unique architectural and ancient monuments: Defensive towers, unusual churches with fabulous frescoes. One of them is IX-X century church of Lamaria (One of the lords, who wanted to invade Svanetian community, was killed here by the people of Ushguli). There is also an architectural museum in the village of Chajashi.
Besides the historical monuments you will get an unforgettable impression from this place itself. VII-VIII century towers looks great with the highest mountain peak of Georgia called Shkhara (5125m) which is risen up in the north of the country.Nowadays tourism is developed in Ushguli: there are family hotels, mobile communication and marked mini busses.
Nowadays Ushguli is enrolled in the world’s list of the monuments of UNESCO

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Additional Photos by Grzegorz Oczkowicz (GREGG) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 558 W: 117 N: 1113] (7888)
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