Days ago I was in a very specific visit in Georgia. It wasn’t a Christian church, Tbilisi famous sight or a typical Georgian restaurant, but a village, a very unique one. The village Asureti (former Elisabethal) is located in Tetritskharo Municipality, 35 km far from Tbilisi and has once been a settlement for German families. History tells that in the beginning of 20th century many Germans came to Caucasus to settle and believed that even if the End of All comes, being close to the biblical Mount Ararat, they will find rescue and peace. Of course politics was much more cruel and during the WWII they have been forced to leave this area and now you can barely find any German living in Georgia for his whole life.
The village itself depicts the picture of abandoned life stories and fortunes. It’s main church’s conditions show you, that much has been lost and much should be regained. Of course people live here, they fill this village with their energy, but there is something that leaves you sad about it.
If I was a romantic person, I would dedicate my blog-post to the description of the village and the feelings that it gave to me, but as a pragmatic one, I would come up with this:
- Have you ever heard about eco / ethno villages?
- Do you know what they can serve for?
- How they can help local people?
- Will they preserve history?
So let’s talk a little bit.
- Ethno or ethnographic village-museums appeared in the end of 19th century and the first and most popular one is located in Skansen, Sweden (click here for more info). These villages are preservation places for the nations cultural heritage. In one village, people manage to represent different aspects of the nations history and culture.
- Villages can show architectural heritage, such as how houses and their decorations have changed with history, what were the main occupations for women, men and children in the past, what jobs existed etc. etc.
- These villages serve as open air museums and host millions of tourists during their existence.
They are much more interactive, than the solid museums, because they help local people to have other earnings in their local community. They also get free restoration for their village constructions, churches, even their own houses.
- They help the present to grow and the past to be preserved.
Coming back to Asureti, I would say, that it’s a perfect example of a village, that can become an open air museum and represent a very unique history and culture. Asureti has a wine cellar, has a big Gothic style church a very typical graveyard with German tombstones and a very developed agricultural life. All these can be switched and represented as key points of a typical ethnographic village and shown to Georgians and tourists.
Besides, the municipality itself has key factors, that would help this project to succeed.
Not far from Asureti, there is the village of Koda, where the life-long learning center is located. The center is open for the locals and not only, who want to learn life hacks and not only in a very friendly and non-formal atmosphere. These people are brave enough to come up with the idea, that age is not a limitation for learning and they would be great teachers for those who live in Asureti…
Hope one day, I will hear about Asureti becoming an ethnographic village and hosting thousands of tourists each year.