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Centre of the Caucasus

Georgia in UNESCO World Heritage List

As known, Georgia is one of the oldest countries in our world. Throughout centuries, it preserved many natural or cultural sites that retained authenticity until these days. No wonder that some of these monuments eventually became the part of World Heritage List of UNESCO.


After receiving UNESCO membership on 07 October 1992, Georgia nominated several monuments for the World Heritage list. Nowadays, four of Georgia’s sites are named World Heritage. Furthermore, the tentative list includes Georgia’s 14 monuments, and four elements were inscribed on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.


In 1994, the first monuments inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List were Gelati Monastery located in Kutaisi and The Historical Monument of Mtskheta. Upper Svaneti was named World Heritage after two years. All of these sites represent cultural heritage. The recent element included in the list in 2021 is Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands. It is also the first natural World Heritages of Georgia.



The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, along with the Jvari Monastery and the Samtavro Monastery, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List under the name of the Historical Monument of Mtskheta. The ancient capital of Kartli that still remains the main cultural and spiritual centre of Georgia, Mtskheta, is situated 20 kilometres from Tbilisi, next to the confluence of the Aragvi and Mtkvari Rivers. It is the town where Christianity was proclaimed as the first official religion of Georgia in 337, becoming one of the most important historical sites of Georgia.


Despite the reconstructions throughout the centuries, all three monuments of Mtskheta bear the history of medieval architecture of Georgia. Retaining a high level of authenticity, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, the Jvari Monastery, and the Samtavro Monastery have important archaeological remains that prove not only high cultural evolution but also social, economic and political growth of the kingdom.



Gelati Monastery in Kutaisi was established at the peak of the political and economic evolution of medieval Georgia, known as the golden age of Georgia (11th and 13th centuries). Built by King David IV “the Builder” in 1106, the monastery was one of the largest medieval Orthodox monasteries that also housed an Academy. Lavishly decorated with frescoes and mosaics from the 12-17 centuries, it was the main center of education and science in ancient Georgia. 



Upper Svaneti, with its isolated location on the mountain slopes between the Caucasus and Svaneti mountain ranges, preserved its authenticity throughout the centuries. It combines several small medieval villages with defensive Svan tower houses, which is the main feature of the region. Furthermore, Upper Svaneti has the exceptional natural environment of alpine valleys, gorges and snow-covered mountain peaks in the background. Ushguli settlement preserves more than 200 Svan towers, castles and churches from the middle ages. The original Svan houses have two floors, while the towers themselves have five floors. 

The ground floor with an open hall accommodated both humans and livestock until it was separated by a richly ornamented wooden barrier. The second floor was a summer accommodation and as a storage for tools and fodder. The towers were for defence from the invaders. This completely authentic interaction between humans of Upper Svaneti and nature is something worth preserving.



The first Georgian natural monument named UNESCO World Heritage is The Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands. Located between Guria, Adjara and Samegrelo-Semo Svaneti regions, the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands consists of seven areas with a high diversity of flora and fauna. The altitudes of the lands vary from sea level up to 2,500 metres above it. The temperature is warm, with a greatly humid climate coming from the Black Sea. The Colchic ecosystems represent several globally endangered species and relict species. The lands are home to more than a thousand plant species. The site also shelters around 20 threatened animal species, even the critically threatened Colchic Sturgeon.



The list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity helps to raise awareness about the importance of the Intangible Heritage and shows its diversity around the world. Nowadays, Georgia has the following four elements inscribed in the list:

  1. Georgian polyphonic singing;
  2. The traditional Qvevri wine-making method from ancient Georgia;
  3. The three writing systems of the Georgian alphabet;
  4. Georgian wrestling, called Chidaoba.