About Sights – Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

After a two year restoration, the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography (Georgian: სვანეთის ისტორიის და ეთნოგრაფიის მუზეუმი) re-opened its doors for visitors on July 1st 2013.

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

The museum was established in 1936 and initially housed a small collection but in 1948 it benefited from an expedition to Svaneti, headed by the famous Georgian art historian Giorgi Chubinashvili, that collected illuminated manuscripts, icons and other antiquities from the Svanetian population and from Svaneti churches. The material collected by the expedition forms the core of the museum’s collection.

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography

The museum is located in Mestia (Georgian: მესტია) in northwest Georgia and has superb views of the historic town and its medieval stone towers.

View of Mestia from the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

View of Mestia from the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

There are six halls of permanent exhibitions. encompassing manuscripts from the 9th-18th centuries, unique icons, archaeological and ethnographic items.

The displays of archaeological discoveries made in Svaneti date back to the 3rd century BC, and the museum’s collection contains many examples of ceramics, jewelry, cult or religious objects and armaments.

Display at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Display at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Traditional Svan life is represented through 19th century photos, Svanetian domestic items, clothing, weapons and armor.

Display at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Display at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Many of the museum’s collection of icons were made by 11th century Svan masters in a style unique from elsewhere in the Orthodox world. Notable icons include Emperor Diocletian’s Torture of St. George by the iconographer Asani, and Christ Pantokrator, painted by Giorgi and Tevdore.

Display of Icons at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Display of Icons at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Icons at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Icons at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Display of Crosses at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Display of Crosses at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Exhibits at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Exhibits at the Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

How much does it cost? Adults 5 GEL, Under 18 0.5 GEL, Children FREE.

How to get there? The museum is located in Mestia, in Svaneti region. Minibuses run from Tbilisi’s Central Railway Station to Mestia. Departing at 6.00 a.m. the journey takes 12 hours, including two meal stops. Get there by 5.30 am to ensure a seat. At the time of writing the fare is 30 GEL. There are flights to Mestia from Tbilisi International Airport. Frequency and times should be checked with the airport.

The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

The Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography in Mestia. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Georgia.

Georgia About recommends a visit to the wonderful Svaneti Museum of History and Ethnography!

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