Restoration work begins at UNESCO Georgian village

Chazhashi village, Ushguli Commune. Photo by Serhii Piddubchak., 27 May 2014 - 18:11, Tbilisi,Georgia

Vital restoration work to renew life at a mountainous village in Georgia has begun.

Chazhashi village in Georgia’s Upper Svaneti region is undergoing a major transformation to rejuvenate the lifeless village, the Cultural Heritage Protection Agency announced today.

The village, which boasts a unique landscape and medieval architecture, was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites in 1996.

In 1970 the old part of Mestia was designated as a reserve and one year later, the same declaration was offered to the Ushgul-Chazhashi area.

The Cultural Heritage Protection Agency said renovation works had been separated into numerous phases.

The first phase of work would include rehabilitation of the Ushguli Museum and upgrading its infrastructure and facilities.

The Cultural Heritage Protection Agency and National Museum of Georgia jointly decided a new museum and visitor center would be established in Chazhashi.

UNESCO experts are set to arrive in Georgia in September following an invitation by the National Agency for Cultural Heritage. With Georgian experts, the group will examine the current state of Chazhashi village, which many say is in a precarious condition.

In Chazhashi village, which has been preserved as a Museum-Reserve, more than 400 homes and 200 stone towers have survived.

Meanwhile, the oldest Machubi (a traditional Svanetian stone tower where residents used to live in winter) were chosen to undergo vital rehabilitation. Work is expected to begin at these sites in the next few days.

As the villages in the Ushguli community are located at the entrance to Enguri Gorge, the area could be defended relatively easily.

The area was protected by two castles above and below the village. The lower castle included a small church hall known as Lashkdash and another church known as Matskhvar, in which medieval wall paintings are preserved on a nearby hill.

Meanwhile, Georgia became a UNESCO member state in October 1992. That same year, a National Commission of Georgia for UNESCO was established, which included representatives in the field of education, science, culture and communication.

In 1994, three other Georgian monuments of cultural heritage were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. These were Gelati Monastery, Bagrati Cathedral and Historical Monuments of Mtskheta.