Georgian Traditional Houses

Georgian Traditional Houses

Old houses store so much information about Georgia’s traditions, show the regional diversity, and indeed give a glimpse into the economic and daily life of the locals.


The Svan towers stand out for their specific decorative elements, such as the main pillar and the throne-like Makhvshi chair. A tower house, also known as a machubi, is often two-storied, with a hall on the upper floor, and a living room and cattle stand on the first floor with a hearth in the middle. The yard is often surrounded by a fence. The looming towers served as shelters for families during enemy invasions.


Houses with a kalo (a type of roof made by pressing down material used for roofing) are typically found in Piraketa (or southern) Khevsureti, while some are also found in Pirikita (or northern) Khevsureti. Such houses were commonly built on the slopes of mountains and had three stories. The way they are built gives the impression that the backside of the house is buried into the ground. The first floor would be a space intended for family use and livestock, with the hearth also arranged in the same place. Kitchens or similar facilities, storage rooms used for various agricultural purposes, and the cattle shed were separated from each other by plaited walls. Upstairs, on the second floor, was called cherkho, and meant to be for men only, while on the third floor, there was a high “bani” roofing.


In historical Meskheti (Samtskhe-Javakheti Region nowadays), houses served as both a living space and a shelter. Underneath, there would be a tunnel, called a darani, made in the back of the living hall which was connected to the neighboring hall. The darani was used as a shelter during times of war. In Samtskhe-Javakheti region, every house had a darani as it made it convenient to take women and children to safety whenever needed. Some of the distinguishing features of Meskhetian houses includes the halls with crowned roofing.


Houses found in Ajara have two floors. The family would live on the upper floor while the lower one was occupied by the stable and cattle shed. The upper floor was commonly divided, with a guest room and a family room, which also served as a kitchen, as well as a third room for milk production. On the second floor, a door in the floor would lead to the cattle shed. 

Kartli and Kakheti

These regions are known for their hall-type houses, which are interesting in terms of architecture as well as their socio-cultural purposes. The main elements in such houses are the two “dedabodzi” (the main pillars that hold up the house, usually in the center, carrying great spiritual significance). Made of wood, the surface of the poles was covered with different ornaments depicting birds, crosses, flowers, circles, stars, the sun, and the moon.

People in these regions considered that the “kera” (the center of the house where the food was prepared and where the fire was lit), the main pole and the crown of the house, which together supported the roofing, were the main sacred parts of the household. All rituals took place around the main pole and the “kera” hub. When married, the bride had to go around the “kera” hub three times and, afterwards, the housekeeper would give her their blessings. That was considered a welcoming ritual. In addition, people also thought that the souls of the dead gathered at the “kera”.

The “kera” hub was a sacred place with an “eternal fire” (families would literally keep the fire burning at all times). Purposefully extinguishing the fire by pouring water or rubbish on it was considered to be a crime and punished according to a traditional justice system. The residential space for men and women was strictly separated, with the left side from the entrance belonging to men, and the right to women.

In Kartli, there are also still wooden houses with flat earth roofing and elements of a traditional dwelling.

Western Georgia

Colchic Oda is a common type of residence in Western Georgia (Country), referring to a building of sophisticated architectural form, the first floor of which holds a stone block chamber, while the second floor is completely made of wood.

Colchic Oda houses are characterized by their wide, carved balconies. The second floor of a typical Oda house includes three rooms: two bedrooms on opposing sides, with a large living room in the middle. The rooms are separated by wooden partitions.

In some houses, the artful mix of stone and woodwork is displayed through the fireplace. Meanwhile, the house chamber would be used for various household activities and economic transactions.

In lower Racha, 25 km from the town of Ambrolauri, in the village of Gogoleti, you can see Colchic Oda houses on which the balconies are decorated with especially gorgeous carvings. 

Balconies in Tbilisi

Tbilisi’s stone-built houses, wooden balconies, and courtyards are among the city’s main attractions. Residential houses with wooden facades and balconies with roofing and carvings were built here around the 1840s. 

Such balconies found in Tbilisi are an immediate continuation of the interior of the house.


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