Street vendors in Kazreti
The Mashavera Valley has always had a multiethnic character as the region is an intersection of cultures. To the south, the valley is limited by the border to Armenia and rising mountains. Azerbaijan, too, is just seventy kilometers away. Apart from Georgians, Armenian, and Muslim Azerbaijani minorities have inhabited the valley for centuries.
In the early 19th century, Protestant emigrants from Wurttemberg, Germany, founded the small town of Katharinenfeld near Sioni. Searching for the thousand-year kingdom of God on earth to come, more than 1,000 families headed out on the long road to the Caucasus in 1817. Katharinenfeld then experienced an economic boom. At the end of the 19th century around 35,000 Germans lived in the Caucasus.
After the occupation of Georgia by the Red Army in 1921, the name of the city was changed – in memory of the Polish-German communist Rosa Luxemburg – to Luxembourg. In 1941, all remaining Caucasus Germans not married to a Georgian were deported to Siberia. The city was given its present name Bolnisi in 1944. When Georgia became independent in 1991, about 1,500 people were still organized in the »Association of German Georgians«. Nearly all of them have emigrated to Germany by today.