In the 1950s, the Soviet government resettled Khevsurians to the lowlands of Georgia. Simplifying labour and improvement of living conditions were named as the reasons for this. Since then, the villages of Khevsureti were emptied and some of them entirely disappeared.
The first Shatiloba was celebrated in 1983 with the motto "Return to the mountains, mountaineer" and served as the revival tool of Khevsureti and gathering the migrants. This event was held until 1989. Thereafter, it was resumed in the 2000s and attracted local and migrant populations as well as tourists.
Shatiloba is opened by Khevisberi (meaning the head, the eldest person in the village, community). The most senior person of this community was Khevisberi – head of the village. Khevisberi had to be an intelligent person with good knowledge of customs and traditions, educated, ensuring order and justice for the village, experienced in combat, leader during a war. Personal qualities and life experience were crucial. Khevisberi tradition still exist in Khevsureti.
The main purpose of Shatiloba is to popularize Pirikita Khevsureti, revive the village and return the migrated population to the village.
Shatiloba is opened by the beer blessing ritual performed by Khevisberi.
Thereafter, horse racing is held, various forms of Georgian martial arts (wrestling, Khridoli) are demonstrated. Finally, the Movement Theater performs a fire show on Shatili towers, theatrical performances and a concert are held with the participation of a folkloric ensemble, solo performers and young Khevsurian poets. A large gala concert with the participation of popular music performers is held at the end of the day.
Fair and exhibition of folk crafts and local products are held.
Visitors lay the table on the territory adjacent to Shatili Museum and feast. Folk songs are performed. During the event, the surroundings of Shatili are turned into the picnic area. Many tents are arranged for staying overnight and there are fireplaces near them.
Experiential and interactive activities
Tourists can attend the beer brewing process, participate in horse racing, and learn how to make Khinkali during the culinary masterclasses. In addition, folk crafts masters offer them embroidery masterclasses.
During Shatiloba festival, a fire show is performed on Shatili towers by the Movement Theater.
Main features and services that attract public
Shatili has been inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage since 2007, which confirms the uniqueness of this place. In addition, the event has an educational and marketing importance – it serves the popularization of Shatili.
At the same time, the necessity of celebration of Shatiloba is preserved in the memory of migrants resettled from Khevsureti, which makes them arrive to their native villages and participate in the festival annually.
Key partners and supporters
The most significant supporter of the event is Dusheti Municipality Governor's Office and the Assembly. It is the main organizer of the event. Also, in different years the event was supported by the Georgian National Tourism Administration.
The partners directly participating in the festival include local tourist facilities, municipal ensembles, folk craft facilities.
Participants, local community and customer segment
The festival participants and the attendants are mainly Khevsurians. Also, Georgian tourists arrive from various regions. As August-September is an active tourist season in Khevsureti, many foreign tourists come. Residents of the adjacent villages and their guests – friends and relatives – arriving from various cities of Georgia also join the celebration.
Occupancy of the local tourist facilities increases during the Shatiloba festival. They are fully booked.
Communication and dissemination channels
The primary source of dissemination of information is word-of-mouth recommendations (from relatives and friends). Information is also disseminated via Internet, TV shows and various printed media. In addition, Dusheti Municipality Governor's Office mobilizes visitors through announcements posted via Facebook.
Specific elements and features
Visitors arrive in Shatili mainly by their vehicles, however, it is also possible to come there by public transport. A minibus runs from Didube Bus Station (Tbilisi) twice a week to the village.
Liaison with other activities and events of the Black Sea Basin region
Historic places and related festivals as the mechanism of revival and preservation of local traditions are popular in the countries selected within the Black Sea Basin project framework. Therefore, the event's inclusion in the cultural route will contribute to its popularization.
Image Sources: Dusheti Municipality City Hall
Shatili is a historic highland village in Dusheti Municipality, Mtskheta-Mtianeti region, East Georgia. Shatili is located 150 km away from Tbilisi, on the northern slope of the Greater Caucasus Range, in the Valley of Arguni River, at above 1400 meters above sea level. In fact, this is a mixture of fortresses and residential complexes of the early medieval period built with slates and lime, which controlled the northeast border of Georgia. The fortress consists of terrace structures dominated by flat-roof residential houses and 60 towers built over each other and create a chain of fortifications. Shatili has been inscribed on the UNESCO Tentative List of World Heritage since 2007.
Datvijvari Pass (2677 m above sea level) is located on the road heading to Shatili, which closes for 8 months and due to this fact, tourists visit the village only from June to September. In the remaining period, Shatili is isolated from the outer world. In 2014 the Pshav-Khevsureti Protected Areas were established to preserve unique local nature. The area is distinguished by its remarkable landscapes and biodiversity, rare and endemic species of flora and fauna included in the Red List of Georgia.
Mutso Museum-Reserve, located at a distance of 12 kilometres, should be mentioned when talking about village Shatili. The 10-18th century fortress village with several dozens of fortress houses and combat towers is located on three cliffy terraces. Mutso is the winner of the 2019 Europa Nostra Award in nominating the best rehabilitation project.
Folk festival Shatiloba is held annually, in August or September.