In The Middle of Georgia

GORI & AROUND

Town Gori, capital of Shida Kartli region, is situated at the junction of rivers Mtkvari and Liakhvi, 76 kilometers west from Tbilisi, on the elevation of 588 meters above sea level. Town is famous as a birthplace of Joseph Stalin. Also Gori is one of the oldest towns in Georgia, it has been populated since the early Bronze Age.

Gori is close to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. It is connected to breakaway South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali via a railroad spur which has been defunct since the early 1990s. In the 2000s, Georgia has increased military infrastructure in and around the city.

In the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, town came under aerial attack by the Russian Air Force from the outset of the conflict, Military targets and residential districts of Gori were hit by the airstrikes, resulting in civilian injuries and deaths

Gori and its environs house several notable cultural and historical landmarks. Although for many foreigners Gori is principally known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, in Georgian historical memory the city has long been associated with its citadel, the Gori Fortress, which is built on a cliffy hill overlooking the central part of the modern city. On another hill stands the 18th century St. George's church of Gorijvari, a popular place of pilgrimage. The famous ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe and the 7th century Ateni Sioni Church are located not far from Gori.

Stalin's association with the city is emphasized by the Joseph Stalin Museum in downtown Gori and, until recently, the Stalin monument in front of the Gori City Hall which was removed only on 20 December 2012.

Below we describe all main highlights and attractions one should visit during the travel to the region.


Route Details (One Way)

Total Length: 110km; 2 hours without traffic. 

And here is the link for directions on Google Maps:https://goo.gl/maps/u8mKhmuCNa22


Joseph Stalin Museum

The museum has three sections, all located in the town's central square. It was officially dedicated to Stalin in 1957. With the downfall of the Soviet Union and independence movement of Georgia, the museum was closed in 1989, but has since been reopened, and is a popular tourist attraction.

Stalin's house: Enshrined within a Greco-Italianate pavilion is a small wooden hut, in which Stalin was born in 1878 and spent his first four years. The hut is a duplex, and Stalin's father Vissarion Jughashvili, a local shoemaker, rented the one room on the left hand side of the building and maintained a workshop in the basement.

Stalin Museum: The main corpus of the complex is a large palazzo in Stalinist Gothic style, begun in 1951 ostensibly as a local history museum, but clearly intended to become a memorial to Stalin, who died in 1953. The exhibits are divided into six halls in roughly chronological order, and contain many items actually or allegedly owned by Stalin, including some of his office furniture, his personal effects and gifts made to him over the years. There is also much illustration by way of documentation, photographs, paintings and newspaper articles. The display concludes with one of twelve copies of the death mask of Stalin taken shortly after his death.

Stalin's railway carriage: To one side of the museum is Stalin's personal railway carriage. The green Pullman carriage, which is armour plated and weighs 83 tons, was used by Stalin from 1941 onwards.


Working hours: works every day 10:00 -18:00. From November 1 to April 1 the museum works 10:00 -17:00.

Entrance fees: Adults - 15 GEL; Students - 10 GEL; Children under 6 - free.

Contact info: http://www.stalinmuseum.ge

Stalin ave. 32, 1400 Gori, Georgia

Tel: +995 (370) 22-53-98

E-mail: stalinmuseum@yahoo.com


Ateni Sioni Church

The Ateni Sioni Church is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km south of the city of Gori. It stands in a setting of the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. The name "Sioni" derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem.

Sioni is an early example of a "four-apsed church with four niches" domed tetraconch (between the four apses are three-quarter cylindrical niches which are open to the central space). The church's cruciform interior measures 24m x 19.22m, and its façades are faced with carved rectangular greenish-gray stones, richly decorated with ornaments and figurative reliefs. The church is not dated but is very similar to the Jvari Monastery at Mtskheta, which is generally held to have preceded it.

Near the church there are the ruins of medieval fortified town of Ateni (modern-day villages of Didi ateni and Patara Ateni).







Uplistsikhe Cave Town

Uplistsikhe (literally, "the lord's fortress") is an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, some 10 kilometers east of the town of Gori.

Built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture.

Uplistsikhe is identified by archaeologists as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia. Strategically located in the heartland of ancient kingdom of Kartli (or Iberia as it was known to the Classical authors), it emerged as a major political and religious center of the country.

With the Christianization of Kartli early in the 4th century, Uplistsikhe seems to have declined in its importance and lost its position to the new centers of Christian culture – Mtskheta and, later Tbilisi. However, Uplistsikhe reemerged as a principal Georgian stronghold during the Muslim conquest of Tbilisi in the 8th and 9th century. The Mongol raids in the 14th century marked the ultimate eclipse of the town; it was virtually abandoned, and only occasionally used as a temporary shelter in times of foreign intrusions.

The legend says that the cave town was mainly built by slaves. Each slave was given an axe to cut the stone and a promise that if the axe would wear off they would be granted freedom.

The Uplistsikhe complex can tentatively be divided into three parts: south (lower), middle (central) and north (upper) covering an area of approximately 8 hectares. The middle part is the largest, contains a bulk of the Uplistsikhe rock-cut structures, and is connected to the southern part via a narrow rock-cut pass and a tunnel. Narrow alleys and sometimes staircases radiate from the central "street" to the different structures.

The majority of the caves are devoid of any decorations, although some of the larger structures have coffered tunnel-vaulted ceilings, with the stone carved in imitation of logs. Some of the larger structures also have niches in the back or sides, which may have been used for ceremonial purposes.

At the summit of the complex is a Christian basilica built of stone and brick in the 9th-10th centuries. Archaeological excavations have discovered numerous artifacts of different periods, including gold, silver and bronze jewelry, and samples of ceramics and sculptures. Many of these artifacts are in the safekeeping of the National Museum in Tbilisi.

Several parts of the most vulnerable areas were completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1920. The Uplistsikhe cave complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage program since 2007.


The most interesting artefacts, among others, in Uplistsikhe are:

Antique Theatron, on the south-western edge of the complex, dated 2-3 cc ad. The ceiling is well decorated. Central part is the stage and the side which is ruined now was for the viewers.

The jail, situated on the left side of the main road, narrow deep hole in the road. Idea was that all bypasses of the main road could see and shame the prisoner

King Tamar’s Hall (it was named after Tamar, although she has never lived there) - the hall was designed for rituals and celebrations.

Apotheke, here traces of different healing plants have been found. Also here you can see a stone with seashells inside which prove that the whole area of Caucasus was covered with ocean approximately 25 million years ago.

Secret Tunnel, which goes down to the Mtkvari bank, 41 meters long, was used to provide the settlement with water and food during the siege.


Working hours: Everyday, except Monday, 10:00-17:00

Entrance fees: Adults - 3 GEL; Students - 1 GEL; Children under 6 - free.

Contact info: village Kvakhvreli, Gori

Phone: (+995 590) 880 114

E-mail: uplistsikhe@heritagesites.ge

www.heritagesites.ge