Shatili is the capital of Khevsureti and lies several kilometres south of the Georgian-Chechen border. The medieval heart of the village is now UNESCO listed meaning that all restoration must be undertaken under rigid guidelines and modern additions such as electricity are forbidden. Partially for this reason the modern inhabitants of the village live in a series of houses around the ancient heart of the settlement that date from the Soviet period onwards. The site was forcibly cleared in the twentieth century because it was used as a Soviet airbase, but the local population has returned since the fall of communism and taken up residence in the well-built houses left behind by the soldiers as well as having adapted items such as abandoned railway carriages and storage containers for use as homes. Khevsur towers are distinct from those of Svaneti and Tusheti by clustering together and interlocking to form one fortified village rather than being divided into distinct family units. This type of village is closer to the architecture of peoples like the Chechens and the Daghestanis to the north, and indeed Chechen-style towers are interspersed with native forms across both Khevsureti and Tusheti. As with the rest of Khevsureti, Shatili is still largely pagan with a number of sacred enclosures and smaller shrines dotted around the settlement, however there is a new church and a small monastery in the village that witness to the growing influence of the Georgian Orthodox Church in even the remoter regions of the country.
Date of Visit
18th September 2016
Metadata and all media released under Creative Commons unless otherwise indicated
Emma Loosley, “Shatili,” Architecture and Asceticism, accessed October 16, 2021, https://architectureandasceticism.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/738.