By Tika Bujiashvili
Gori Fortress is a historical building on a hill above the city of Gori, Shida Kartli. From here all the roads are seen well so gaolers could easily see when enemy appeared. Located on the main highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia the fortress was of strategic importance for many centuries.
As archaeological excavations show, the first fortified settlement here dates to IV-III centuries BC. The fortress was strong and its surrounding was inhabited. In historical sources Gori fortress first was mentioned in XIII century. In the XVIII century king Rostom ordered Christopher Castel, one of the missioners, to draw Gori Fortress. This was the first drawing in the history of Georgian fortresses. The drawing shows, that most parts of the fortress were built by king Rostom. According to Castel’s drawing, four flags were flying on Gori Fortress. In the drawing you can also see a campsite, soldiers on horsebacks with bows and arrows and even two-storey houses.
The Fortress was a strategic stronghold. Conquering the fortress meant political influence on Shida Kartli. Gori fortress was attacked several times by invading armies and was rebuilt afterwards. The main part was restored in the 30s of XVII century by king Rostom. The last time the church was restored in 1774 by Erekle II. After the Treaty of Georgievsk (until 1801) Gori fortress still had a function. The Russian army battalion Grenadier stood there. Later Gori fortress lost its practical importance.
The fortress was built with cobblestones. In old layers cut stone was also used. The western part – Tskhrakara – is better preserved, on the southern and eastern parts there are support fences. In the south east part of fortress there is a small chapel. The fortress had a tunnel to get some water. In the middle of the south wall there is an ancient wooden gate. The Fortress has only one entrance, which is not seen until you come closer. There are few remaining structures within the walls but spectacular views of the city, mountains and surrounding makes it one of the remarkable places.
The fortress was surrounded by a moat. Its length and the width isn’t know, though one document, signed by Erekle II in 1773, says that the depth of the trench should be 4m, and the witdth-5m.
The Fortress was damaged by the earthquake in 1920 and restored later in the XXI century. A cobblestone walking path belongs that period too.