Set within the stunning valleys of the southern Caucasus, the Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park spans over 700 square km, making it Europe’s largest national park. Thanks to its picturesque scenery, easy accessibility, fresh climate and, of course, its mineral springs, the area has become one of the most popular resorts in the former Soviet Union.
As a ‘climate phenomenon’ it is of particular interest to scientists and ethnographers, for the area boasts a unique ecosystem contributed to by crystalline glacier water from the Bakuriani Mountains, relict pine forests and volcanic springs in the Borjomi Canyon.
The curative properties of Borjomi spring water were recognised in ancient times, as demonstrated by the excavation of stone baths which date to the first century A.D., when Borjomi water was used not only for drinking, but also for medicinal purposes. Georgian historians confer that it was used as such from as early as the 1st century B.C. until the late 16th century. Archaeologists have also discovered clay pipes leading to the springs.
Unfortunately, numerous wars that erupted throughout the following two centuries meant that the springs were abandoned until the incorporation of Georgia into the Russian Empire in the 19th century when the springs were once again discovered.
Borjomi mineral water deposits are situated in the central part of the Adzhar-Imeretin chain of the Caucuses Mountains at an altitude of 760-920m above sea level. The water is extracted from within the boundaries of the Borjomi nature reserve using nine wells at a depth ranging between 1,200m and 1,500m.
Exploration of the Borjomi mineral deposits began in 1927. Between then and 1982, 57 new wells were made ranging from 18.4m to 1,502m in depth. Prior to the 1927 exploration, two wells had already existed - Yevgenievskiy and Yekaterininskiy – in the central section of the deposit. These were recorded as the earliest springs discovered in the history of the Borjomi valley and were named after Colonel Yevgeniy Golovin and his daughter, who was said to have been cured by the Borjomi water.
Today, there are three centres of production in the Borjomi valley: Central (Borjomi City), Likanski (Likani district) and Vashlovani-Kvibiski (Vashlovani and Kvibisi districts). All together, these districts contain nine operational wells, as well as 13 wells which are used for regular monitoring of the deposits (including water level, pressure and temperature). Since 2000, the operational wells have been receiving regular maintenance, which ensures that Borjomi water is in keeping with international standards of quality.
Romanovs family at a spring
Between 1957 and 1978 drilling operations expanded the boundaries of the Borjomi deposit and established new operational sites, significantly increasing the water reserves and allowing for the production of up to 400 million bottles of Borjomi water per year during the Soviet era. Today, Borjomi water is shipped to 30 countries worldwide.
The Caucasus region contains a wide variety of mineral deposits, but Borjomi water remains unique in mineral composition and since the 19th century more than 100 academic and medical articles have been written regarding its unique properties.
Over the past 170 years, thorough geological and chemical investigations have been held regularly in order to verify the invariability of the water’s temperature, physical and chemical properties and mineral composition. Currently, chemical and microbiological analysis of the water is performed on an hourly basis to ensure that it conforms to strict European quality standards.
The composition of today’s Borjomi mineral water remains unchanged from that recorded in 1890. After analysis the water is bottled on the site of extraction and thus retains all its original properties, no matter how far it travels thereon.