|• Total||163 sq mi (423 km2)|
|Time zone||Georgian Standard Time (UTC+4)|
Zestafoni or Zestaponi (correct pronunciation - Zestaphoni [zɛstʼapʰɔni]) (Georgian: ზესტაფონი) is the administrative center of Zestafoni District in Western Georgia. Zestafoni is the center of an ancient, historical part of Georgia - Margveti, which is a part of Imereti province. Zestafoni is the Center of Margveti's Eparchy of The Georgian Orthodox Church. Zestafoni is situated in the furthest east of the Kolkheti Plateau. The city is built on the both banks of the river Kvirila.
It is an important industrial center, with a large ferro-alloy plant processing manganese ore from nearby Chiatura. Zestafoni is in the Kolkheti lowlands, a semi-tropical region with relatively cold winters averaging −4 °C (25 °F) in January and hot summers averaging 24 °C (75 °F) in August. The surrounding countryside is a wine-growing region.
The town of Zestafoni and the smaller neighboring town of Shorapani are industrial centers. The Zestafoni ferro-alloy plant processes raw manganese ore shipped by rail down the Kvirila valley from Chiatura, supplying 6% of world demand. The largest ferroalloy plant in the country, in 1998 it produced 35,000 tonnes of silicomanganese and 11,000 tonnes of medium-carbon manganese alloy. This was well below its previous peak production of 110,000 tonnes of manganese-based alloys. The British steel trading company Stemcor acquired the ferro-alloy plant in February 2006.
Two other plants in the Zestafoni / Shorapani area produce electrical products, aluminum and copper cable and wire. There were more plants in the Soviet era producing fireproof clay, marble and clothing. Zestafoni is also one of the winery-vinery centers of Georgia. Wine prepared from “Tsitsqa” and “Tsolikauri” species are widely known.
Zestafoni lies 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) south of the small but ancient fortress town of Shorapani, founded by Pharnavaz I of Iberia in the 3rd century BC. The town of Zestafoni is first mentioned in historical records in the 1560s. The name of the city is connected with the bank of river Kvirila (Georgian: phoni), upper bank (Georgian: Zeda phoni), that was used by the local population and foreign travelers from ancient times.
In the 1820s a Cossack army was posted in the town, which was then called "Kvirila" after the river that runs through it. In the 1920s the name was changed again to "Jugeli", after a famous revolutionary. Only later did the city regain its historical name.
There are lots of historical monuments in the Zestafoni region: Zeda Saqara (11th century), Tabakini (6th century), Tseva (11th century), Sanakhshire and other churches, castles from early Middle Ages in Shrosha and Shorapani. Shorapani (Sarapanis) is the toponymy, that is mentioned in old Greek mythology. That was Sarapanis that Jason and his Argonaut friends approached during their travel in old Colchis (Kolkhida).
Sports and culture
The local football club, FC Zestafoni, plays in the top league in Georgia and twice won the Georgian championship in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 season. The local woman's basketball team is Champion of Georgia-2011.. The city's stadium was built by Zestafoni Ferro-alloy Plant in 1952 and since renovation has a capacity of 4,600.
The writer Boris Akunin and philosopher Tengiz Tsereteli were born in Zestafoni. The psychologist and philosopher Dimitri Uznadze was born in the nearby village of Sakara in 1886. Famous Georgian actors Shalva Ghambashidze, Ushangi Chkheidze, Sergo and Bukhuti Zakariadze were also born in Zestafoni.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Zestafoni is twinned with:
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- Margarita Antidze (February 23, 2006). "Stemcor says acquires Georgian ferro-alloy plant". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
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- Georgy Ketchuashvili2. "Dimitri Uznadze (1886–1950)". PROSPECTS: the quarterly review of comparative education vol. 24, no.3/4, 1994, p. 687–701. UNESCO: International Bureau of Education. Retrieved 2010-01-31.