ancient-stone-tower-against sky-mestia-georgia

Winter Amid the Medieval Towers of Mestia – Georgia

Last updated:

6 AM: The road is thick, fresh snow; undefined – just part of an endless white sheet running the entire mountainside.

It falls in delicate waves as the mini-bus meanders.

Getting to Mestia in mid-winter is proving a mission.

But the sight of stone towers elevates my early-morning haze to a high.

Watch the Video – Exploring Mestia

VIDEO INFO: Getting a mini-bus to the ancient stone towers of Mestia – lost amid mid-winter snow. Drinking with locals, wandering quiet streets, climbing Medieval stone towers, surrounded by the high peaks of the Caucasus Mountains. Travels in Georgia – 2012 (before mass tourism arrived).

Mestia is located in the north-west of Georgia in the Svaneti region.

mestia ancient towers valley panorama georgia
Valley view of Mestia.

The Caucasus Mountains surrounding Mestia reach 3000 to 5000 meters, and it’s these parts which are among the highest-inhabited areas of Georgia.

mountain view from tower mestia georgia
View from a Svan stone tower in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia.

Medieval stone towers spike the valley of Mestia.

These defensive stone towers were built between 8 and 12 AD. Today, around 175 remain scattered across the valleys of Svaneti.

dusk view over mestia medieval towers georgia
Room with a view – with wine, at dusk, looking from my – awesome family – home-stay in Mestia.

Travel Advice for Mestia in Winter

NOTE: I traveled here in 2012, and I believe Mestia has really taken off as a tourist resort since (including as a ski resort). Before it was completely quiet in winter.

snow mountains and mestia stone towers georgia

GETTING THERE: Marshrutkas (vans) from Zugdidi leave early morning from outside the train station (good if you’re coming from Tibisi on the overnight train).

Traveling in the height of winter is possible: It will be very cold but the road to Mestia is usually cleared fast.

Local people of Mestia

(But getting to Ushguli in mid-winter is near impossible. If you find a willing taxi driver it will be very expensive and potentially dangerous due to the snowed-in road).

Travel Gear: Sleeping bag (as home-stays can be very cold outside of the living room), wind-breaker / gore-tex jacket, good fleece jacket w/ thermal underclothes, gloves, hat. Boots and a double-layer of socks.

interior of ancient svan house mestia georgia
Interior of Medieval stone house – attached to tower at the Margearne residence .

Accommodation & Eating: Hotels are expensive but family home-stays are good value. You get your own room with shared bathroom and large delicious meals are included, for around $25-30 a day.

Small shops sell alcohol, snacks, etc. However, Mestia eating-out options are limited in winter.

Wrecked Soviet truck in backstreets of Mestia in Winter.
Wrecked Soviet truck in backstreets of Mestia in Winter.

Sights: Aside from exploring Mestia and trekking to other villages – the museum was closed for renovation when I visited – there’s a couple of “family museums” that include climbing the towers and seeing original house interiors.

looking up to ancient stone tower mestia georgia

The Svaneti Mountain Tourism Centre has friendly English-speaking staff and lots of info (895 358049;; Stalin 7, Mestia)


Follow my travels and get updates from the road - plus exclusive gems, including my crazy stories ebook.

I don’t spam. Zero BS.

crazy travel stories
Read This
yugur nomads sheep flock gansu china
Yugur Nomads of China’s Desert Mountains