Ushguli is a village community in the Georgian region of Svaneti. The village, which consists of four smaller villages, lies in the mountains of the Great Caucasus and is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located at an altitude of 2,086 to 2,200 meters, Ushguli is one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe.

Ushguli consists of four villages (Murqmeli, Chashashi, Chvibiani and Shibiani), which line up along the river for a distance of two kilometers.

Many of the old houses have Svan defence towers, with some of the  oldest dating back to the 8th and 9th centuries.

These fortified towers were mostly attached directly to the house but there are also a couple of free-standing towers in the villages. On the ground floor there was always a fireplace which served the families as a cooking place, living space and for heating and their livestock would be kept in the same room.  The family would withdraw to the second floor when there was any sign of danger.

The third floor allowed access to the top sections of the tower, which could only be entered via a ladder that would be lowered when needed.

The surrounding area is breathtakingly beautiful, with high mountain peaks that are usually covered in snow year round, and a glacier than can be accessed by road or on a day hike.

All images by Lee-Ann Olwage / © Firecracker Collective 2022