Inside Ushguli, Europe's highest inhabited village
The village of Ushguli, located at the head of the Enguri gorge in Svaneti, Georgia, is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list as one of the highest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe.
Recognized as the Upper Svaneti, the village is situated at the feet of Shkhara, one of the highest summits of the Caucasus and comprises of four villages protected by Svanetian towers.
Located at an altitude of 2,100 meters, the village has preserved many aspects of its medieval lifestyle. It is also famous for its more than 200 medieval tower houses. A 12th-century chapel also draws the attention of tourists.
Many people from around the world, especially nature lovers and sportsmen visit the village, which is difficult to access.
Tourists hike from the village to the Shkhara glacier through the Enguri valley regardless of the sultry hot weather and difficulties. They have an opportunity to see closely the buildings of the local people called the Svans, living in harmony with nature. The three or five-story towers have been used for living and defense purposes throughout history.
Çukurova Nature Travelers Sports Club board member Rıza Dinçer told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they came to the Svaneti region with a group of 17.
He said Usghuli is a rare gem where reality meets the world of dreams.
"This is the highest permanently inhabited village in Europe on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. It is the highest summit in Georgia. It is a very beautiful valley. The Svanetian towers and the Shkhara mountain glaciers offer some majestic views. The environment here takes people to a dream world," he said.
Referring to the Svanetian towers, Dinçer said, "It has not changed much and still protects its historical features. The buildings were constructed using stones. The roofs were built by natural stones in the form of plaque. There are some buildings that people made to protect their lives. Every family built their own building here. Therefore, they try to protect themselves from external attacks. Many Svanetian towers and the perfect image of the Shkhara summit. This attribute a meaning to the region."
He added that mountaineers and nature lovers show great interest in Usghuli. "The reason for this interest is that the region has remained unspoiled. It is important that the millennial structures are protected so people can continue to enjoy them," he said.