Located on the elevation of 1500 m above sea level, surrounded by mountains, Mestia is administrative and tourist center of Zemo Svaneti. It is linked with center of the region, Zugdidi, by 138 km road snaking in the gorges between picturesque slopes of Svaneti segment of Kavkasioni mountain range. This road has vital importance for this highland region. Cold and snowy winter is habitual in Svaneti. Throughout centuries the only road in the direction of Mestia from the end of November until mid-April was covered with snow separating Svaneti from outer world. Hardly accessible Zemo Svaneti throughout centuries played a function of treasury safe-keeper of Georgia. At the time of wars Mestia was an elaborate depository of church and public items brought here from different corners of the nation for safe-keeping. That is why unique icons, ancient manuscripts and other relics housed today in Svaneti’s churches and Mestia’s Museum of History and Ethnology have survived in Svaneti. The highest human settlement in Svaneti and the whole of Europe – Ushguli – is located on the elevation of 2060-2200 m above sea level. The community of Ush-guli consists of four villages: Zhibiani, Chvibiani, Murkmeli and Chazhashi. Nowadays the hamlet of Chazhashi is included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and declared a museum, since unique architectural and ethnological heritage – more than 30 traditional Svaneti towers -survive on its territory. To the South from the hamlet a fortress of XII-XII cc. is standing and overlooking all four villages of Ushguli. In the upper, Northern part of Ushguli is St. Mary (in the Svan language, ‘Lamaria’) Church wherefrom a road to the mountain Shkhara leads. There are many peaks in Svaneti segment of Kavkasioni mountains with perpetual snow in summer and winter. Among them three peaks are prominent: Shkhara (the highest peak in Georgia with the height of 5203 m above sea level), Tetnuldi (4858 m above sea level) and Ushba. Double-faced Ushba (the height of the Southern peak is 4700 m, of Northern peak – 1690 m) is not the highest among them. However, it was assigned the highest category of complexity. After up to twenty failed climbs, the Northern peak was climbed first in 1888 by the British, while the Southern peak was ascended by the joint expedition of German, Swiss and Austrian mountaineers. After that until 1934 there were up to 60 attempts to ascend Ushba with only 4 successful ones. Several years ago it was decided that everlasting snow cover is precious recreational resource and should be used for the development of winter sports. 7 km away from Mestia, in Hatsvali, three skiing tracks for sporting events were built including one having the length of 2950 m.
Location: Mestia cavity, banks of rivers Mestiachala and Mulkhri
Distance: 145 km from Zugdidi, 465 km from Tbilisi.
Sea level: 1500-1550 m
Climate: middle mountain (lower belt) climate, winter cold, with a lot of snow, mean temperature in January -6 degrees centigrade; summer short, cool, mean temperature in August 16,4 degrees centigrade
Average annual precipitation: 960 mm
Average comparative annual humidity: 75%
Duration of annual sunny light: 2000 h.
Natural treatment factors: middle mountain climate of lower belt and carbon monoxide, hydro-carbonate (and chloride-hydro-carbonate) calcium-sodium (and calcium) mineral waters with overall mineralization 0,7-2,5g/dm3
Types of therapy: application (drinking) of mineral water, passive climate therapy Diseases for treatment: bronchial asthma, bronchitis,
chronic gastritis and iron-deficit anemia (deficiency of blood with grave pathologies or iron deficit caused by posthemorrhage
deficiency of vitamins)