Omalo

28 March 2018

 

The village of Omalo is situated in the historical area of Tusheti, in Kakheti region, Eastern Georgia. It belongs to Akhmeta municipality and is located in the community of Pirikita (Chagma), 90 km-s from the village of Omalo, 102 km-s from Akhmeta on the right shore of the river Pirikita Alazani and is the administrative center of Tusheti area.  Omalo consists of three parts: Zemo (upper) Omalo (at an altitude of 2070 meters above sea level), Keselo fortress above it (2084m. above sea level) and  Kveda (lower) Omalo (1898m. above sea level). The population of the old Omalo (founded in XVIII c.) was gathered around the Keselo fortress and later they gradually moved downwards to the today’s plain of Omalo. According to the stories told by people the population of the village would find a shelter in the Kesselo and fight from there with the intruders, like Shamil  and Lekis. Located between the ranges of the Greater Caucasus Mountains and Pirikita, the village is cut off from the rest of Georgia because of poor state of roads during the six months.

Omalo is within Tusheti Protected Landscape and is subordinated to the Ministry of Natural Resourses and Environmental Protection. In compliance with November 7, 2006, N 665 order of the President of Georgia, the Old Omalo has been included in the list of material cultural monuments of national importance. We have 11 monuments of cultural heritage in the village.

The Upper Omalo has a clearly outlined structure. The village is planned around the central square in the middle of the settlement. Due to the surrounding mountains the village cannot be seen from any side and it creates a nice sense of coziness. This kind of layout is characteristic of  Upper Omalo. The most developed part of the village to the north is complete with Keselo that is dominating the place. Keselo fortress is built on the steepy slope and comprises the whole complex of towers and fortified houses. One can access  Keselo by means of narrow paths and passages between fenced territories.  The principal building –hall church is situated to the west of the square.  

It is noteworthy to mention the archeological material found in Omalo during the excavations. It gives the evidence for three archeological monuments and sites: remains of the village to the south; so-called Hill of Burnt Castle and a shrine nearby called “samnateo” ( place of bell-ringer) and the third is the graveyard to the east.

 Lower Omalo is comparatively more recent settlement which developed as the center of Tusheti during the Soviet era. This was the reason why the village changed its image more than others. Here we have a fusion of houses of different styles and periods.  However, in some homes one can still notice the traces of original dwelling places suggesting that Boslebi (cow-sheds), the winter residences must have been here.

In terms of social infrastructure, there is the Visitors’ Center of the protected Territories and a school in Omalo.

The place is not equipped with electricity or gas. The population mainly uses solar energy.

The holiday “Tushetoba” (Day of Tusheti) is associated with the eldest profession of Tusheti, that of sheep farming and has been celebrated in Omalo since the 70-ies of the past century annually in July or August. The Kesselo fortress houses also the ethnographical museum.