Photo © co/rizom
The turbulent history of this country, in which so many cultures have been present, is reflected in the complexity of the architecture, art, craft and food culture. The history of Georgia reads like a mixture of fantasy and crime fiction; there is almost no other country that has been invaded and occupied so often. By the Romans, the Persians, the Byzantines, the Mongols, the Ottomans, and later, the Russians. In between there have been periods of independence. In 1991, after 70 years of Soviet rule, the country became independent once again and sought to join the EU. But the political situation is not entirely straightforward, as the so-called ‘Rose Revolution’ of 2003, the Russian-Georgian War in 2008, and the current unrest make clear. Georgia is strategically located, and today it is mainly Russia that has an interest in it (primarily so it can gain direct access to the neighbouring state of Azerbaijan with its oil and gas deposits), but many trade routes, such as the Silk Road, used to pass through here according to archaeological evidence. The early cultural importance of this area is also clear from the traces of viticulture that have been found and that date as far back as 8000 BC. Georgia’s periods of cultural and economic prime can still be felt today.