H.E. Konstantine Surguladze, Ambassador of Georgia in the Hague talks about his favourite places in his country.
If you ask me about my favourite destinations in Georgia, I should admit that the answer won’t be short. I will start with posing question to you:
Why do you normally travel? – Leisure? Business? To see new sights? While all being legitimate reasons, at its core, I believe people mostly travel for new experiences.
They travel to get away from the ordinary, take a new perspective on life and discover the unexpected;- and that is precisely where Georgia comes in, not simply an attractive destination, but a country where a trip is a magnificent process of experiencing “Life” at its core. I believe travelling to Georgia won’t be just another trip for you, but a memorable occasion for a lifetime.
If you want to see beautiful mountains, charming old cities and stunning sea coast – Georgia is a perfect place to visit in every season of the year. I won’t be bored to name gorgeous countrysides, beautiful nature, ski resorts and mountains, black sea and its charming beaches. If you ask: “What is it so magical about Georgia?” – It will be definitely hard to describe but I will answer – that in my home country there live the most hospitable people in the world; and Georgian delicious food and wine would need a separate article to encompass. The list is very long and I’d suggest better to see rather than hear hundred times.
You probably know that Georgia is not a big country, but it is strategically located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia and some describe it as a balcony to Europe. This location has contributed to building a unique cultural heritage. Historically Georgia has been the cultural, educational and transportation hub for the Caucasus region, with some of the most famous trade routes like the “Silk Road” passing right onto its soil.
Georgians are proud people, we are very proud that:
– Wine has been produced in Georgia for about 8,000 years and that Georgian Qvevri wine-making method is recognized by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
– You might agree with me that it’s difficult to enjoy quality wine without delicious cuisine, and Georgia prevails in this regard as well. The country’s cuisine offers variety of dishes, with numerous tasty herbs and spices. Recently Georgian food and drinks were ranked 4th in Europe, right behind Italy, France and Spain;
– Yes we are proud that we have our own unique alphabet and its among 14 existing alphabets known to mankind. The oldest known inscriptions date back to the 5th century. UNESCO has added Georgian alphabet to the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016.
– Number of beautiful UNESCO world heritage sites:
Gelati Monastery – dates back to the 12th century, and is a great example of medieval architecture in Georgia;
Historic monuments of Mtskheta – the Jvari Monastery dates back to the 6th century, and the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is one of the most majestic sites in Georgia;
Ushguli – one of the highest populated areas in Europe is located at an elevation of 2000 – 2200 meters above sea level. The area is renowned for its unique tower-houses and unparalleled natural beauty.
– Georgia is also home to the “First European Civilization” dating back 1.8 million years. World’s oldest hominids remains, named “Zezva” and “Mzia” have been found near the capital, Tbilisi (in Dmanisi). They are the oldest links to modern man found outside of Africa;
– One of the many things that almost every Georgian is proud of is Georgian singing. UNESCO has acknowledged Georgian polyphonic music as “a masterpiece of the world’s cultural heritage”. Georgian dance, that one may not describe with words, like the national polyphonic songs, remain a major cultural export. To my mind everyone should experience Georgian dance at least once in a lifetime.
– And of course one may not forget the great flora, fauna and resorts that Georgia has to offer. The nature in Georgia will leave you speechless.
Top Reasons to Visit
First of all for me a good holiday is a safe one. I am pretty sure that same goes to everyone. According to the numbeo.com 2017 Crime Index Rate, Georgia is ranked as one of the top safest countries in the world.
Tbilisi – To continue with the beautiful sites that you should not miss, I have to mention my favourite city, where I was born and grown up, the capital of Georgia – Tbilisi. This city has a long and fascinating history dating back to the 5th century. It is striking how Tbilisi incorporates so many different cultures and traditions. The legendary sulphur baths located near the city centre have hosted various poets, writers, musicians and kings over the centuries, and it’s still going to be very popular among travellers.
Batumi – In recent years, Batumi has become the key sea-side destination for entertainment and leisure on the Black Sea.
With new high-end hotels, the city is rapidly becoming a destination for all types of travellers. With quality nightlife, gaming/gambling opportunities and new restaurants have given the city its fresh character.
Winter Resorts – yes we do have them too!
Gudauri that is located just 90 minutes’ drive form the capital is popular for its quality infrastructure and variety of ski runs;
Mestia the brand new ski destination in Georgia is one of the most challenging and beautiful in Europe. Here the ski-lifts begin at 1,800 meters and the destination is easily accessible by a magnificent 30 minute flight through the mountains.
And there is Bakuriani that was originally developed as an Olympic training facility; its cross-country trails attract expert, as well as beginner level skiers. Today, Bakuriani is very popular among family vacationers.
Gudauri and Bakuriani resorts were recently equipped with artificial snow making machines, which guarantee a perfect slope every time.
Adventure Tourism for adventurous people
As I mentioned before Georgia offers numerous opportunities for almost all kinds of travellers:
Hiking and Trekking;
Rafting & Kayaking;
Horse Riding, etc.
There are more than 100 Resorts and 182 Resort Areas (e.g. Lopota lake resort & spa or Vardzia Resort are among great Places for true relaxation);
10 National Parks (e.g. Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park is the biggest in Europe. It is also part of the Pan Parks network);
40 Natural Monuments;
2400 springs of Mineral Waters;
12,000 Historic and Cultural Monuments.
You might also find it interesting that touristic potential of Georgia recently has been praised by many prominent International Magazines.
The Telegraph ranked Tbilisi, capital of Georgia #4 destination to visit in its article -“21 European cities you never thought to visit – but definitely should”.
Vogue issued an article regarding the – “The 10 Hottest Travel Destinations of 2017” and Georgia tops the list
Forbes also publishes article about – ”The Top 12 Underrated Wine Regions To Visit In 2017: A Month-By-Month Guide” in which Georgia, Kakheti is listed as wine destination in May
In 2016 Georgia, that has a population of 3,7 million, hosted more than 6 million visitors. To my pleasant astonishment 6th millionth tourist of Georgia Jesper Black appeared to be Dutch and he had a surprise dinner with the Prime Minister of Georgia H.E. Giorgi Kvirikashvili. The clip on 6 Millionth Tourist came to be amazing and it deservedly won first Silver at Cannes Lions. You can watch the clip here:
Hope after reading this article you will have a better understanding of Georgia and I assure you that this is a place you will never ever regret visiting. It is a country which can just blow your mind.
H.E. Konstantine Surguladze
Ambassador of Georgia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Video about Georgia:
UNESCO: Celebration of anniversaries in 2015 : Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan and Ukraine