Georgia was one of the first countries to embrace Christianity. Greek Orthodox Christianity became Georgia’s official religion in the Fourth century AD and the GeorgianChurch became autonomous in the Sixth century. Distinguished for its long tradition of religious tolerance throughout centuries Georgians have enjoyed fairly good relations with other communities of various religious backgrounds, including Catholicism, Armenian Apostolicy, Judaism, Islam and etc.
Georgia is a country of fascinating landscapes, ancient history and remarkable culture. From snowy peaks to subtropical shores, from semi-arid deserts to rich vineyards and lush forests, from cities to enchanting villages, it is a place where everyone can discover something to his or her liking. Georgia is famous for its warmth and hospitality, wide variety of wines, unique cuisine, and the harmony of polyphonic songs and elegant dances. In Georgia, one will come across an ancient and still flourishing culture filled with churches, fortresses and towers, museums and exhibitions, sulfur baths and local bazaars. Here, the present co-exists with the past and modernity is fused with traditions. Georgia’s cultural heritage is rich and complex. Shaped by eastern and western ideas and influences, Georgians always guarded their distinctive and strong local culture and traditions.
Georgia is one of the first regions in the world in which the earliest traces of human life, dating back 1.9 to 2.0 million years, were discovered.. Located at a geographic meeting point between the eastern and western worlds, the country has played an important role as the crossroads of Europe and Asia over centuries. The ancient Silk Road, linking China with Italy passed through Georgia. Numerous archaeological sites dotting the landscape eloquently illustrate the advanced state of civilization that existed in the region. Such archeological finds have produced exquisite examples of bronze, silver and gold craftsmanship. This is the country of the Golden Fleece—the myth of the Argonauts, Jason and Medea—and land of Prometheus, chained to the Caucasus Mountains.
Both the spread of Christianity throughout the area beginning in the late first century and its announcement as an official religion in the early 4th century marked important turning points in Georgian culture. It brought about the Georgian Middle Ages, which is defined as period from early 4th century until the end of the 18th century. Though Georgians maintained close connections with the established centers of the Christian East, the influence transmitted from these centers was always tempered by strong local traditions, reflected in a distinctly Georgian style of medieval art: architecture, mural painting, repousse work, cloisonné enamel art, manuscript illumination, etc.
An independent kingdom during medieval times, Georgia subsequently was dominated by different invaders including Persia, Arabs, Turkey, Iran and finally the Russian Empire in the 19th century. Despite the drawbacks caused by the Russian occupation, it brought some positive developments as well: Georgia re-established contacts with European Countries and theatres, museums and newspapers were founded. The rich artistic tradition that began with medieval painting reinvented itself on the easel-mounted canvases of 20th century painters.
In 1921, Georgia was incorporated into the Soviet Union, and remained a part of the Soviet empire until gaining independence in 1991. Today, Georgia is a nation strongly connected to tradition, while, at the same time, embracing modernity and developing into democratic state that embodies western values.