Guria is located in the western part of Georgia, bordered by the eastern end of the Black Sea. Famous for its polyphonic music and humorous people, Guria, a region rich in cultural traditions and natural beauty, offers a splendid chance for tourists to experience the road less traveled.
Part of the northern edge of the region is on the Colchis lowland, while to the south-east Guria extends as far as the Meskheti Mountain range. Guria shares a border with Samegrelo to the north, Imereti to the east, Samtskhe-Javakheti in the south-east, Adjara to the south and the Black Sea on the west. In the east part of Guria, the lowlands become mountains and evergreen bushy forests replace swamp forests. Beech forests are found in the mountains and pine and fir trees can be found at higher altitudes. Mountain forests of Guria provide a good habitat for bears, wolves, deer, martens, and bobcats, as well as other animals. Some of the most common birds are cuckoos, hoopoe, hawks, falcon, and woodcock, while pheasants can be found in the swampy forests of western Guria. Rivers are home to many different types of fish including lamprey, sheatfish, perch, trout, and gudgeon.
Guria is humid across the subtropical seashore as well as in the mountainous east. The lowlands of Guria, where the elevation is 200 meters above sea level, is also humid. Winter in Guria is mild, while the summer is hot. This region is also characterized by high winds.
History And Archeology:
During the Middle Ages this part of Georgia was an independent principality–initially it was a Saeristavo (fiefdom) then a Samtavro (sovereign independent principality). It was governed by the Gurielis, a family of Gurian rulers. Guria existed as a sovereign principality until the mid-19th century. Artifacts discovered in modern Guria show that there was a flourishing civilization here many centuries ago. A large union of Colchis tribes lived in Guria as early as the 13th century BC. During the seventh and sixth centuries BC there was a strong and independent early Georgian state, the Colchis Kingdom (said to be the site of the Golden Fleece), which was located in this region. The territory surrounding Ureki is very interesting for its archaeological importance. Artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages have been discovered at the mouth of the Supsa River. The remains of ancient burial mounds have also been found in the sea dunes along the Black Sea. Roman coins from the 3rd-4th centuries were found here as well as garnet buttons.
Culture And Traditions:
The population of Guria has a rich spiritual and family culture. Social relationships are strictly defined in Guria and they are known for their politeness and respect for the elderly. Music and singing play a vital role in Gurian culture and the Gurians helped develop the world famous Georgian polyphonic style of singing. Gurian songs generally consist of three or four independent melodies. “Krimanchuli” is one of the best examples of the Georgian polyphonic traditions. The word “Krimanchuli” means twisted iron. “Naduri” is a special song performed during a grape harvest or while working in the fields. Traditionally, singing “Naduri” lasted for longer than an hour and over 200 people sang it together during work. The economy in Guria is agriculturally based. Citrus, fruits, tea, nuts, grapes, and corn play an important role in the region. The cultivation of vineyards in Guria dates back to antiquity. Gurian villages are characterized by a special charm and color, especially in autumn. Wooden houses often have corn kernels spread out like beads and pumpkins drying in the sun, with yards of green trees, surrounded by wooden fences. The cultural life of Guria includes public rituals and traditions. Some of the biggest celebrations are Giorgoba (St. George’s Day), Mariamoba (St. Mary’s Day), and New Year (called Kalanda). Special preparations take place in each of the families during these celebrations. For the New Year celebration, Gurians place chichilaki, nut tree branches formed to depict the tree of life, in their homes the day before New Year. Chichilaki is considered the grantor of fertility and wealth; it is kept in the home until Baptism Day, January 19th, and is burned or thrown in the water afterwards. Gurians are known for their crafts, building skills, leatherworks, saddles, baskets, and straw hats. Hunting and fishing are also fundamental to their culture.
The people of Guria are amazingly hospitable. Guests are treated to tasty dishes, using walnuts and hazelnuts to bring a unique flavor to local products. Some regional specialties include: satsivi – chicken served cold in a walnut sauce, ghomi – a corn dish similar to grits served with cheese, Gurian khachapuri – cheese bread stuffed with hard boiled eggs, kharcho – a hot meat stew, mtsvadi – marinated beef or pork grilled over an open fire, pkhali – ground spinach mixed with nuts and spices, and chiri - dry fruit.
Ureki is a health resort on the Black Sea shore. It is famous for its magnetic sand beaches to which there is no comparison in the world. The beneficial health properties of magnetic energy have been known since ancient times and were used by Egyptians, Greeks and Indian Yogis for treatment of different diseases. Magnetic energy has anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, it stimulates the regeneration of tissues, strengthens the immune system, and improves conditions from several severe diseases. One of the best mountainous resorts in Georgia is in Guria, the village of Bakhmaro. It is located in the district of Chokhatauri, on the Meskheti Mountain range, in the gorge of the Bakhvistskali River. Bakhmaro is located 2000 meters above sea level, and known for its fresh air: a mixture of the sea and mountain air, resulting in a unique local climate. Bakhmaro is recommended for those who have health problems and can benefit from clean air and healthy food. Nabeghlavi resort, also in the district of Chokhatauri, is known for its mineral waters. Nabeglavi spring water, as well as mineral water, is bottled here. The water is popular in the international market as well.