Top five unique fortresses of Georgia
28 August, 2017
Top five unique fortresses of Georgia
Georgia is home to numerous historical castles, fortresses and towers. Each of them has its interesting story.

Here we present to you 5 of the most famous fortresses.
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Photo courtesy Aleqs Gasviani

Surami Fortress

It is located in Shida Kartli, in the northern part of the town of Surami, Khashuri District, on the left bank of the River Suramula, on the rocky hill. It is a very important from historical as well as architectural point of view.

Interesting information on the construction of Surami Fortress is found in Persian and Turkish sources.

Surami's current fortress was built in the beginning of feudal era (11th century). It is connected to a famous noble family who lived in Surami and ruled Kartli Principality in 12-13th centuries. It is widely considered that this fortress served as their residence.

Surami, as a strategic point, is mentioned in Georgian historical sources from 1625 when Giorgi Saakadze(Georgian politician and military commander)strengthened it in defense from the Persians.

French traveler Jean Chardin, who traveled to Georgia in 1672-1673, wrote: "Surami is a small town, even smaller than the city of Gori, but it has a large fortress and its garrison consists of a hundred men".

In the 16-18th centuries there were some important battles around the Surami Fortress as the area was of Ottoman and Persian interest at that time. In 1692 the castle fell in the hands of the Turks.

Beginning from the 1830s, especially after taking Akhaltsikhe area in 1829, the Surami Fortress gradually lost its significance because Georgia's boundaries have gone far from it.

The fortress is a complex of various structures. It includes outer wall, a fortress, St. George's Church and Palace.
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Photo courtesy Badri Vadachkoria

Gori Fortress

Gori fortress or Gorisitsikhe, as it is called in Georgian, is a historic fortress located in the center of the city of Gori, on a high rocky hill. The ruins and archaeological findings on the northern slope indicate that there was a large stronghold in the 1st millennium BC and people lived around it. The fortress was first mentioned in the sources dating back to the 13th century and represents. Taking hold of it meant political domination over entire Shida Kartli (Central Georgia). Over the centuries, Gori fortress has been renewed and changed. The main part was restored in the 1630s and today's appearance was
adopted in 1774, when King Erekle II thoroughly restored it. In the first years of Kartli-Kakheti's accession to Russia (1801), the fortress still had its strategic position - one of the battalions of the Russian army stood there. Subsequently it gradually lost its value.

The fort is mainly built of cobblestone. The original entrance of the fortress is not visible. In the south-east there are ruins of a small church. There was a tunnel and water reservoir. Gorisitsikhe was severely damaged by the 1920 earthquake.
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Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Narikala

This is the ancient fortress, overlooking Tbilisi and river Mtkvari. Narikala (Meaning Inner Fortress in Persian), was first mentioned in 1772 by a German traveler named Johann Anton Güldenstädt. The fortress consists of two sections and is located between the sulfur baths and the botanical garden on a steep rise. St. Nicholas Church is restored in Narikala's lower yard.

The stronghold was founded in the 4th century and was named Shuris Tsikhe (Invidious Fort in Georgian). In the 7th century it was considerably expanded by Umayyads and later, in 1089-1125 by Georgian King David the Builder. The Mongols called it "Narinkala" ("Small Castle"). The main fortifications that stand to this day date back to the 16-17th centuries. In 1827 a large part of the fortress was destroyed by the earthquake.

The fortress was a complex system of defense, with strong walls, towers and bastions. The Narikala Fortress is one of the oldest fortresses in the history of Georgia and it is constantly visited by a lot of people.
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Photo courtesy Giorgi Nikolava

Petra fortress

The historic fortress of Petra is located in the village of Tsikhisdziri, on the territory of the historical Egrisi Kingdom. "Petra" is the Byzantine name of this fortress, which is called "Kajeti Fortress" in Georgian. It is presumed that Shota Rustaveli mentioned it in his "The Knight in the Panther's Skin".

Petra Fortress is located on the seashore rocky hill and apart from the terrestrial fence, it was also protected by rocky terrain (its Greek name is "Petra", which means stone or rock). Petra was considered an almost inaccessible fortress. The ruins are still preserved to this day. The archaeological complex includes the citadel, as well as the remnants of a town and the ruins of a palace, antique bath, agricultural and soldiers' housing.

It is quite clear that in the period of the United Georgian Kingdom the city was no longer there. From the 10th century, the episcopacy was abolished as well but the fortress still retained its meaning.

In the 1720s, the Ottomans conquered Tsikhisdziri and strengthened it. At the time of the Crimea war there were 25 cannons. During the Russo-Turkish Wars (19th century), there were some important battles for Tsikhisdziri, but nobody could take it. In 1878 Tsikhisdziri returned to Georgia. The western part of the prison was blown up in the 19th century when the Baku-Batumi railway was constructed.

The Petra-Castle Archaeological Museum-Reserve was founded in 1989.
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Photo courtesy Kakha Oghadze

Kojrisitsikhe (Agarani)

The Kojori fortress in Tbilisi was located on the way to the big road on Agarani. In historical sources it is often referred to as "Agarata Fortress".

It defended the main road from south. In the 1060s King Bagrat IV took it over from Amir Afadlon. During the "Great Turkish Invasion" (1080) the fortress was captured by the enemy. In July 1118, David the Builder besieged Agarani in one day, and in 1123 gave it to Ivane Orbeli. "Agarani Fortress" was a summer residence of Georgian kings and according to one of the versions, Queen Tamar died there. From 15th century it is called Kojori Fortress. According to Vakhushti Batonishvili, it was previously known as the Azulula Fortress.

Author: Lali Patsia

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