By Tinatin Bujiashvili
If you are ready to take an entertaining route, go up the mountain, at the altitude of 2635 meters and look down the earth, from there, where the birds fly, then the tour to Khikhani Fortress will be unforgettable for you and will leave the extraordinary impressions.
On your way to KhiKhani castle if you meet adjarians and tell about your rout, they will say: ”Oh, You haven’t visited Khikhani yet? It means you know nothing about the country yet.”
The fortress , which dates to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, is located on the left bank of the River Chorokhi near the village of Khikhadziri in Khulo district of Adjara, 125km from Batumi and just 4 kilometers from the border with Turkey. It is still difficult to climb the fortress to this day which makes it more interesting and attractive to adventurous visitors. No cars go to Khikhani fortress as there is only a path and sometimes wooden ladders are made to go up.
It is believed that the site was originally occupied by a church (the Church of St. George) built in 1230 A.D. and the castle was later built around but today there is only one foundation left.
Khikhani was a residence town of (11-12th cc) Abuselidze Family. The monument is situated at the Skalta-Khikhani River and on the branch of Ariani mountain. The Complex includes: fence, towers and ruins of other buildings. The fortress has two main towers, the walls are 7-8 m high. The towers are rectangular that underlines the high level of architecture at that time.
Khikhani fortress is one of the most important monuments in Adjara. It was built at a strategic location and used to be a shelter to Georgian Royals when Tbilisi and Gori fortress were occupied. Sometimes Khikhani castle was called Tamar fortress. It used to have secret underground passages.
Although in ruins today, visitors can see the remains of the rectangular towers, walls, a bakery, wine storage area, a water well and a church.
Recently 43 clay pots have been discovered by archaeologists at Khikhani fortress. The newly-discovered wine cellar dates back to the 11-13th centuries. Unfortunately, when we visited the place, they had already been taken. Only a little piece was left there.
It is interesting to note that the fortress never lost its function for 700 years. Khikhani retained its economic and military-strategic importance up to the beginning of XX century.
P.S. The fortress has a big history. You will hear many interesting stories if you ask locals, though today if someone shows interest to visit the site, the photos and the information might be a little help. Other things explore yourselves…