Center For Cultural Relations - Caucasian House
In 1973, on the initiative and through efforts of Otar Nodia, a public figure, historian and writer, the "The Main Editorial Collegium for Literary Translation and Relations of the Writers’ Union of Georgia" was established, with the aim to publish the best specimens of world literature and thought in Georgian, and to translate into various foreign languages the best artistic achievements of Georgian literature. The Collegium brought together the best specialists of foreign languages and cultures, philologists and translators. Over time, it was transformed into a kind of intellectual hub, a space of free and democratic thinking, a place of dialogue between cultures. It was just a place of dialogue between different cultures but also a space where people of different ethnicities and faiths worked together. The Collegium paid special attention to the study and translation of the literature of the Caucasian nations.
In 1994, by the decree of the Georgia’s Council of Ministers, on the basis of the "Main Editorial Collegium for Literary Translation and Relations" was established its successor organization, the Georgian Center of Cultural Relations - The Caucasian House. On November 4, 1999, the employees of the former state-budgetary organization founded on its basis the public voluntary organization – Centre of Cultural Relations – The Caucasian House, which implements various educational, peacemaking, research and cultural projects - with the help of foreign partners, donors, and like-minded individuals.
After the Caucasian House was formed as an organization on the basis of the Collegium of Translation, focused mainly on the development of literary processes, its guiding ideas, goals and activities got expanded and became based on the vision of peaceful coexistence of the peoples living in the Caucasus region, along with their cooperation in dealing with common problems and interests.
Thus, the Centre of Cultural Relations – The Caucasian House was established as a cultural, educational, peacemaking and environmental organization enjoying international respect, with the mission to create an ideological and intellectual foundation for the peaceful development of Georgia and the entire Caucasus region. The organization contributes to the formation of such a cultural space, which is guided by the principles of ethnic, cultural, and religious tolerance and solidarity; focused on protection of living environment and cultural heritage.
The Caucasian House contributes to the protection and preservation of the cultural heritage and nature of Georgia and the Caucasus; and to creation of the spiritual and intellectual foundations that are necessary for the democratic revival of Georgia and the Caucasus, for the strengthening of environmental security. The Caucasian House works for the education of young people, humanization and democratization of public consciousness; promotes the development of civil society and the rule of law, and common progress.
The subject of special concern of the Caucasian House is protection of human rights, religious and ethnic tolerance, introduction of norms of peaceful coexistence of different cultures. The goal of the Caucasian House is to act as a permanent platform of constructive alternative opinion and civic expression.
The organization is grounded on the following values:
- • Caucasian house as a common cultural space;
- • Ethnic, cultural, religious tolerance;
- • Peaceful settlement of conflicts in the region – through cultural dialogue, civil diplomacy and educational programs;
- • Civil solidarity;
- • The idea of a rule of law based state and human rights;
- • Humanization and democratization of public consciousness;
- • Gender equality;
- • Implementation of the principles of environmental protection and sustainable development.
The building in which the Caucasian House functions today was built in 1859 after the design of the architect Otto Simonson with the participation of the merchant Igor Tamamshev. In 1985, the latter’s last heir and owner of the house, Mikhail Georgievich Smirnov, bequeathed the entire property to Georgia, specifically to the Collegium of Translation. The condition of the family house of the Smirnovs, built back in the 19th century, was already quite deteriorated by the end of the 20th century. The fundamental restoration of the building was undertaken by the European fund - Horizon, and in 1998-2000 the house was completely rehabilitated.