What is there to do in Georgia | Racha Lechkhumi and Lower Svaneti
Under Georgia’s current administrative subdivision, Racha is included in the Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo (Lower) Svaneti region.
Racha is a highland area in western Georgia, located in the upper Rioni river valley and enclosed by Greater Caucasus mountains and rivers.
Racha is separated from Lechkhumi and Svaneti by the mountains. Racha is known for its unique flora and fauna, the great number of natural mineral waters, semi-sweet red wine Khvanchkara (said to be Stalin's favorite) as well as calmness and patience of the local people. With its mountains and raging rivers, the region is popular with anglers and rafters, as well as mountain bikers and paragliders. Rioni River is full of trout and is a haven for fishing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.
Racha had been part of Colchis and Caucasian Iberia since ancient times and one of its main towns - Oni was said to have been founded by King Parnajom of Iberia in the 2nd century BC. Upon creation of the unified Georgian kingdom in the 11th century, Racha became one of the duchies within it and during the following centuries the duchy was abolished and restored a few times (source: www.wikipedia.com)
- located 1,350 meters above sea level, the village can trace its history back thousands of years. Bronze belts and the head of a silver bull have been discovered in burial mounds from the Bronze Age 3rd-1st century BC. Archaeological excavations have also revealed metalwork from the 16th-10th century BC as well as burial mounds from the late Bronze Age. Ghebi was a unique tower settlement in Racha, but most of the towers have been damaged by earthquakes, and today only a few remain. (source: georgia.travel)
Oni Local Museum
- established in 1937, the museum houses several collections of more than 15000 artifacts found locally. The archaeological collection presents items from the Stone Age up to late medieval times, most of them are Bronze Age dated. The collection includes a bronze figurine of a sheep, open-work astral buckles, bull decorations, adornments, fragments of weapons and implements. The Collection of architectural details and relief fragments of St. George and St. Trinity churches from 10th-11th centuries. One can also find samples of 10th-14th-century coins, ethnographic objects, manuscripts, and printed books. The collection is completed by a selection of 20th-century paintings from the region.
St. George Church in Nakuraleshi
- located in the mountain village of Lechkhumi, is a typical example of rural chapels in the Georgian highlands. What makes it unusual is that both the interior and exterior walls have been covered in 17th-century murals. (source georgia.travel) Utsera - located 1,050 meters above sea level, the village is known for its mineral water, health resort, and spa. The village boasts a fine collection of medieval churches, but its 800-year-old “alley of trees” is especially worth a visit. (source georgia.travel)
- a mountain climatic and health resort. Visitors can enjoy its calmness, fresh air, beautiful forests, and mineral waters. The resort is located at the base of the Mamisoni Mountain range and is surrounded by snowy mountains. This is the place for these visitors who seek the beauty of nature and tranquility - the region is absolutely, naturally unspoiled and beautiful. There is a bumpy road, some family guesthouses, a hotel, a very decent restaurant straight in the forest (open only during the touristic season) and mountains, rivers, and silence.
- a nice building with beautiful windows and a rounded dome of a silver color. It was built in 1895 by a Polish architect and the builders were Greek Jews from Thessaloniki.
It is Georgia’s third-largest synagogue, after those of Tbilisi and Kutaisi. Once Jews constituted a third of Oni's population - large and powerful community. In the '70s there were over 3000 Jews in Oni, now only some 25-30 people stayed - the rest emigrated to Israel during the '90s. The synagogue was refurbished during the summer of 2013.
Nikortsminda St. Nicolas Cathedral
- located in the village of Nikortsminda, near Ambrolauri. With its impressive decorations, there is nothing else like it in Georgia. The temple, built in the beginning of the 11th century in the name of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Worker, contains many examples of old Georgian script and the interior walls of the temple are painted with frescoes dating back to the 16-17th centuries. These paintings were ordered by a local noble, Tsulukidze, and prepared by the painters of Gelati. In 1534, King Bagrat III renovated the temple, but it was significantly damaged during an earthquake in 1991 and re-opened after renovation in 1997. The bell tower standing next to the church was added in the 19th century.
- is one of the most beautiful villages in Racha. It is located 1,360 meters above sea level, on the south slope of the main Caucasus Mountain range. During medieval times it had a large population and a number of defensive structures. Today, a number of towers and two small churches still remain.(source:georgia.travel)