Georgia

September 16, 2013

A shepherdess returns from tending her flock  of sheep in the pastures around the village of Svaneti. Behind her, a defensive tower stands between 20-25 metres tall. Built from the 9th to the 13th century the towers are found all over the region. They are four or five stories high and were used as watch towers and protection and from marauding armies.

The mountains of Svaneti rise above the town of Mestia and its ancient defensive towers.

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A view of Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, from the Narikala Fortress located high on a hill above the city. 

Stalin's death mask sits eerily in a darkened room of the Stalin museum in Gori, the town of his birth.

The night is just getting started when women start dancing to traditional Georgian music at Maria's birthday dinner.  Small plates, piled with meat, salads and sauces cover the table chaotically. Such traditional meals are long and drawn out affairs accompanied by vast amounts of alcohol. The women drink home brewed wine and liquor in the formal upstairs dining room while their husbands sit downstairs drinking beer and spirits, usually vodka, and playing cards. 

A little boy gnaws on barbequed suckling pig at the doorway of his home in Ushguli.

 

Ushguli is one of the highest and most isolated villages in the Caucasus. Home to only about 70 families, it stands 2,410 metres above sea level and is connected to the next town by an unmade road which is impassable for six months of the year.

A ladder resting against a tower now used a grain store, gives an idea of its defensive capability. 

 

In Ushguli, little harm can come to the livestock which roams freely during the day. The animals return willingly at night to the shelter of the village walls, away from the danger of wolves.