Hell Canyon – A bit of Georgia on Turkish territory
13 September, 2015
Hell Canyon – A bit of Georgia on Turkish territory
Traveling Georgia itself is not the only way to get acquainted with the country . Let us tell you of a very special place that is currently located on the territory of Turkey. Tao-Klarjeti is an important historical part of Georgia, rife with medieval cultural sites and monuments. Time has been unkind to some of them, leaving only ruins, but many have survived and stand to this day.

“Turkish Georgia” owes its beauty not only to its churches and fortresses,
but also to its landscape, riddled with canyons, lakes and waterfalls. Chorokhi Gorge, for example, boasts multicolored volcanically formed cliffs and has a tiny ravine at its bottom - a snaking path wide enough to only accommodate one person within. When looking up at the titanic vibrant cliffs from that ravine, one is both awed and intimidated, and traversing the narrow, dark walkway feels like descending into hell itself. But at the end of the tunnel the light shines yet again, the path becomes wider, and upon emerging from it one is gifted with an amazing sight: A valley hidden amidst the cliffs, like an oasis in the desert. Spring flowers and emerald grass grow around massive boulders, and eagles nest in the surrounding crags. Then comes the road to Artanuji Fortress, with enormous canyons to one’s left and right.

At the end of the tunnel the light shines yet again, the path becomes wider, and upon emerging from it one is gifted with an amazing sight: A valley hidden amidst the cliffs, like an oasis in the desert.

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This place is, quite appropriately, named Hell Canyon. Features of its landscape were used to strategic advantage by Georgians who lived here. Named Adakale, which translates to an Island Fortress, the area is so pitted and jagged with canyons and gorges that it really is nothing short of a terrestrial island.

The canyon was a bottleneck – after luring enemies into it, the Georgians devastated them with near-endless ambushes and attacks from above.


Artanuji Fortress is considered to have been built by King Vakhtang Gorgasali. It served as a residence of the Kartli Royal Court during enemy invasions. Its location was chosen not only due to strategic benefits it offered, but also because it was located at the crossing of several major trade routes of South Georgia. The roads coming from the Black Sea ports headed to Artaani, Tao and Shavsheti precisely through this fortress, which endowed it with an important economic function in addition to its military capacity.

According to historical data, the Hell Canyon itself was also utilized during enemy invasions. Georgians could rarely boast numerous armies, so they were forced to take advantage of the lay of the land. In this particular case, the canyon was a bottleneck – after luring enemies into it, the Georgians devastated them with near-endless ambushes and attacks from above. Tactics such as these are the reason why Georgia stands and endures to this day.
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Author: Eka Gadakhabadze
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