Ilia Chavchavadze was a writer, journalist, banker, and public figure, who contributed to the modernization and development of XIX century’s Georgia. . This demanded an unimaginable amount of effort at that time, which is precisely why everything connected with the name Ilia Chavchavadze carries so much importance in Georgia.
At the Ilia Chavchavadze Museum in Saguramo, you can pay homage to this monumental figure in Georgian history while learning a little more about his extraordinary life.
The museum is housed in the spacious mansion in which the great man spent his final years. This eleven-room manor’s balcony overlooks a beautiful garden, where trees planted by Ilia Chavchavadze himself still grow. This garden was a meeting place for writers and public figures, with some of Georgia’s most influential historical figures having stood under the shade of the trees as they discussed the nation’s future.
It was in this garden, on August 2nd every year, that Ilia Chavchavadze would celebrate the day of his patron saint, Elijah the Prophet. It was a day he especially loved. The holiday would be celebrated with a grand feast where local celebrities and commoners alike would sit side-by-side. Foreigners would come to visit Ilia as well, such as British, French, and Polish diplomats. It was a rare occasion in which these people could rub elbows, paving the way for the egalitarian future that the nation would someday possess.
Like all good Georgian homes, Ilia Chavchavadze’s home also had a wine cellar. Chavchavadze played a large role in the development of Georgian winemaking, as well as the business of what we now call the branding and marketing of wine. If you’ve ever enjoyed a good bottle of Saperavi at home, you should raise a toast to one of the men responsible for sharing Georgian winemaking with the world.
After his death, Ilia Chavchavadze’s wife donated this house to the Society for the Spreading of Literacy among Georgians, who ran it as a school for a number of years. These days, the building serves as Ilia Chavchavade’s House Museum, preserving his handwritten manuscripts, the first issues of the newspapers he edited, famous works of art, photos showing scenes from his life, everyday items, furniture, and other similar things of historical significance.
The Ilia Chavchavadze House Museum is a hugely popular tourist attraction. In addition to hosting poetry nights and cultural festivals, the museum is especially lively on August 2nd each year, when the festival now commemorates two saints: Elijah the Prophet and Ilia Chavchavadze the Righteous.
It offers the locals a chance to better understand the man who helped shape so much of what is today modern Georgia while giving foreign visitors a chance to better understand the reverence Ilia Chavchavadze enjoys today.