Shida Kartl

Winery And Restaurant BEST In Village Ateni

Posted on February 26, 2017. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

Not far from Gori, there is a historical region famous for its historical buildings, wine and hospitality. Entering the village on the way to Sioni Church, you will see signs of several wine cellars. Up there, a famous fortress of the Orbelis is seen with its interesting history and legend. Before you reach Ateni Sioni church in the end of the village, there is a convent with its old cellar.

The village is close to the north-eastern flanks of the Trialeti mountain range. So your tour will be full of spectacular views of the river Tana Ravine and Trialeti Mountain range at any time of the year.

Starting your trip with visiting historical place of the village-Ateni Sioni, you will be met by a very interesting person-Mr. Paata Bestavashvili there. Mr. Paata knows the history of the church very well from his childhood, as his father worked there for 50 years before him. Showing your great interest, he is not satisfied with just telling almost every details about the church but invites us at his house, where he has fast-food restaurant and even a cellar. A cellar isn’t finished yet, though their Aladasturi wine Best really tastes great. You can find many interesting ancient things in their fast-food restaurant such as a 100 years old book, a book of impressions, where tourists visiting Ateni expressed their feelings. Also, some pieces of clay found near Orbelianis’ fortress. One of them, as Giorgi explains, is a water-supply pipe.

Entering the yard you will be amazed seeing so many romantic ტჰინგს. Yes, Georgia is associated with wine, poetry and love. No Georgian supra is without wine, singing and poetry. Paata’s son, Giorgi, is a good tamada. He told us many interesting things-some legends, some funny stories connecting with the sights.

We were short of time so we had to refuse to touch the culinary tourism-making churchkhela or Khachapuri. We just enjoyed Tatara (grape juice is add some flour) and Khachapuri made by a host family. We left the Bestavashvilis house-fast food restaurant-museum full of impressions and felt happy finding the best and very hospitable family in the region, where you can feel like your home.

Tika Bujiashvili & Saba Shagidze

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Ateni Sioni Church, Shida Kartli

Posted on February 20, 2017. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

Ateni Sioni replicates Mtskheta Holy Cross Monastery architecture. It dates back to the first half of VII century and is located 12 km from Gori, in Ateni village, a place of outstanding natural beauty on a rock above the Tana River in a narrow valley. The name Sioni derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem. The church has cruciform interior and its facades are faced with carved rectangular greenish-gray stones.

The walls of the church contain Georgian, Greek, Armenian and Syrian inscriptions. Here can be found all types of inscriptions in Asomtavruli, Mkhedruli and Nuskhuri. Some Inscriptions are covered with frescos. Some inscriptions were dated. Sioni interior wall contains the inscription of Secular poetry, which is unique and is nowhere except here.

On the south façade of the church an Armenian inscription can be seen. The inscription says: “I am Tadosak, the builder of the church”. According to the inscriptions, it meant that the church of Ateni Sioni was built by Armenian architect Todosak in the X century and the church was a blind imitation of Mskheta Holy Cross Monastery. Later Armenian specialists announced Mskheta Holy Cross Monastery to be built by Todosak, who later repeated his work in Ateni. It was believed until 1960 before Georgian scientists-Amiranashvili and Javakhishvili started detailed  studying of inscriptions and proved that the church can’t be built in X century, but it dated to the first half of VII century and Todosak might be one of the renovators who worked on the restoration of the church.

Another provement is the inscription on the south apse of the church which keeps the names of masters who appear to work on restoring the church: Aharon and Georg. The inscription of Georg belongs to the II half of X century, so it means that the church was repaired when Bagrat was the king.

Interior of Ateni Sioni is the most impressive because of the perfect frescoes performed in XI c. The most famous frescos of the church is a fresco with Giorgi Chkondideli, David the Builder, Bagrat IV, Giorgi II and Queen Izdukht. Also a fresco of Gabriel Archangel and Dream of Josep. They are one of the best samples of Georgian medieval monumental painting.

Although the structure of wall painting follows traditional path of Georgian iconography, in this particular case it has been guided and at least to some extent determined by the dedication of this church to one of the greatest orthodox holidays – Dormition of the Virgin St. Mary is the central figure here and the great number of frescos narrate the history of her early life. In conclusion, numerous inscriptions – both stone curved epigraphs and performed in paint should be mentioned. On the pylons under the dome there are two blossom crosses (680).

The Church is a burial place of Sumbat, a son of Ashot, Nerse, Stepanoz Mampal and Guaramvri, a wife of Konstantine Kakhi, with their birth and death dates.

Today frescoes conservation works are in progress.The church was closed during Soviet Period and was just a museum. Since 1989 Ateni Sioni is active again.

We met here Mr. Paata, the best guide ever and who works here  for many years after his father and knows the history of each stone. Mr. Paata can give you detailed information about the church in Russian and Georgian. Unfortunately there is no English speaker guide there. But, if you want to learn not only about the church, but touch the history, try to find a translator and don’t miss the chance to speak to this person!

By Tika Bujiashvili

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Gori Fortress. Shida Kartli, Georgia

Posted on December 23, 2016. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl | Tags: , , , |

By Tika Bujiashvili&Nata Chachua

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.


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Uplistsikhe -A Rock-Hewn Town In Shida Kartli, Republic of Georgia

Posted on December 20, 2016. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

By Tika Bujiashvili & Tazo Miresashvili

There are only three rock-hewn towns in Georgia. They are Uflistsikhe, Vardzia and David Gareja. According to archaeologists Uplistsikhe is one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia and the witnessed key events of Georgian history. The city is laid out over nine hectares, rising from east to west up a mountain slope.

There is a legend about Uflistsikhe. Uflistsikhe was a residence place of a leader of local tribe. The leader had a power like God, so the fortress was called Uflis-tsikhe, which means Lord’s Fortress. According to the legend Uflistsikhe was built by slaves. They were given picks, which had one part of gold and another- iron. The slave should work so much that only golden part should be left. Only after that they were given freedom and the golden part of the pick as a gift. Though, it’s just a legend because no one would give a slave so much gold. But two things are important in the legend: the first is that we know how hard the slaves worked on building a city and the second is that the Georgians used gold in that period and legend of fleece of gold is real.

When Christianity was declared as an official religion in Georgia in the IV century AD, Uplistsikhe lost its importance. Nevertheless, life still continued there. Christian structures were built, and for a short time Christianity and the old faith coexisted in the city. When the Muslim conquered Tbilisi in the VIII and IX centuries AD, Uplistsikhe reemerged as a principal Georgian stronghold and became the residence of the kings of Kartli and the town grew to a size of around 20 000 inhabitants.

From 700 caves in Uplistsikhe, today there are only 150 remained. Most of them are damaged. There are several reasons of damage. The main reason is that the rock where the city is built is too soft.  Another reason is a 1920 year’s earthquake. During the soviet period the site was used by shepherds. Even today the caves are covered with soot.

The Uplistsikhe cave complex was destructed in the XIII century by Mongols. Since then it was abandoned and was used only occasionally as a temporary shelter in times of foreign invasions

There were several halls in Uflistsikhe: Throne Hall, Nice Hall, Grand Hall, Blackberry Hall, Long Hall, Red Halls, Queen Tamar’s Hall, Marani (Wine Cellar) and even Apothecary. Although the Queen never lived in there, this deluxe cave dwelling was an apartment for the town’s rulers.

The Marani, next to Tamar’s Hall, dates from after her time. There’s an underground prison, 8.5m deep, just below Tamar’s Hall, and to the south there is an apothecary, with eight layers of storage spaces (about 15cm cubes), where traces of herbs and wrapping parchments have been found.

There is a three-nave St.George’s basilica church, built in the VI century in Uplistsikhe. The church doesn’t have a foundation it is built on a rock and wasn’t destroyed during 1920 earthquake. It’s said that yolk was used during the building of the walls. The church was damaged and rebuilt many times. Even today you can see clay pots in the yard of the church. It is said that when a child was born the family poured some wine in the clay pots. When the child was 16 they brought the wine to the church and left there with a clay pot. The basilica was destroyed by the Persians in the VII century but was restored in the XII-XIII centuries. Later its frescos were whitewashed in the XIX century. Today Sunday liturgy is held there every Sunday, though the first one was held 10 years ago.

The entrance of Uplistsikhe was a 41m length and 3m width rock-curved tunnel in the V-VI AD.

Archaeological excavations have discovered numerous artifacts belonging to different time periods, including gold, silver and bronze jewellery, and samples of ceramics and sculptures which are safekeeping of the National Museum in Tbilisi. Uplistsikhe is on the tentative list for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage program and is a popular destination for tourists visiting Georgia.

You can easily reach Uplistsikhe from Gori. It is 30 min. drive in a mini-bus (to Kvakvreli) and costs 1 Gel. To view the whole site takes 2 hours.


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Gorijvari, Shida kartli

Posted on September 6, 2016. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

Gorijvari is a spa resort in the village Gorijvari, Gori municipality at the altitude of 600m. In the 80s people from different parts of Georgia often came here to rest. Unfortunately the resort doesn’t work today.

On the top of the hill stands St. George’s church of Gorijvari, which was and is a popular place of pilgrimage. Vakhushti Batonishvili in his records writes that Gorijvari was built in the IV century and St. George’s skull was buried in the foundation. The church was named after St. George’s. The builder of the church is not known. Some people say, that St. George church was built on the place, where the ancient pagan idol was erected, others say that in the beginning of the IV century a cross was erected at the top of the hill and since then the place is called Gorijvari. (Jvari means “cross”).

It is said that in that period three crosses were erected in Georgia-in Mtskheta, on the mount Tkhota and in Ujarma. From the pieces of these three crosses Gorijvari Cross was made in the first half of IV century. The wooden cross was embellished with silver by King Alexandre I. Today the original cross is kept in the state museum of fine art but the copy of it is in the church.

The length of the cross in the church is 188cm and the width is 94cm. Central part of the cross shows the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Other parts of the cross show a life of St. George.

“Bless the grace of Gorijvari”-this is the first or the last toast to pray in Gori. Gorijvroba is celebrated on May 6 and on November 23 on Giorgoba days.

The current church was built in the XII century, it was burnt down by Turk, rebuilt and the earthquake in 1920 destroyed the church again. The church was restored in the 80s when Vazha Abramishvili was a District Committee Secretary of Gori. As he writes later, it was very risky to build a church in the soviet period. Restoration works took nearly 10 years.

Sunday liturgy started in 1990.

So when you are in Gori, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the place. You can take a taxi for 10 gel from the bus-station (to and fro) and enjoy with spectacular views of Gori and the river Mtkvari.

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Posted on November 10, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

By Tika bujiashvili

Rkoni is situated in 100km from Tbilisi in the beautiful Tedzami gorge and belongs to Kaspi district, shida Kartli.  The place is rich with different kinds of architecture built at the initiative of Queen Tamar.
The fortresses, arch-stone bridge on the river Tedza, church carved in rock to save treasure – all these you can see when you travel to this beautiful place.

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The complex consists of many buildings, and quite a few of them were built at the initiative of Queen Tamar. One can find here: the Church of the Virgin Mary – dating back to the 7th century, the gate of the complex – dating from the 13th century, a chapel, a church of John the Baptist, a bell tower dating from the 17th-18th centuries and housing for the monks. Inside the church there were candles that recent visitors had left behind.

As the monk who was selling candles told us the church of Virgin Mary had a miracle. St Mary appeared on the entrance wall of the church.


Not far from the monastery there is a spectacular 12th century stone arch bridge (King Tamara Bridge) over the river Tedzami and crossing this and climbing the hill brings you to another small church and cave carved in the rocks that was once used by monks. It is called Svimon mesvete church. It is three storied church. On the third floor you can see some frescos.

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One cannot get to the monastery by car – it takes about an hour walk – wide forest path leads you along the river.


P.S. In the 12-13th centuries Rkoni was undergoing significant trade, military and strategic way, It connected Shida Kartli region to Javakheti and Trialeti and then, to the Middle East through Armenia. This prompted the Rkoni and its surroundings in monastery building.  In the XIII century a large feudal and statesman Kakha Toreli purchased and donated village Khovle to Rkoni monastery. In 1400 Temur Leng’s (Timur the Lame) troops raided the village and churches and monasteries. In the 16-18th centuries Rkoni was already well- fortified. In 1905 there was a workshop-laboratory in Rkoni, which produced weapons and explosives for rebellion.


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Ertatsminda Cathedral Church

Posted on November 7, 2015. Filed under: Around Georgia, Shida Kartl |

By Tika Bujiashvili

The Ertatsminda Cathedral of Eustathius of Mtskheta is situated in the village Ertatsminda 10 km south west from Kaspi, Shida Kartli region.The cathedral was built in the 13th century. The church has frescos, though it is notable for its facades.

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Inside the church you will see a Baldakhini. As locals say if you go under it and wish something, it definitely will come true.


Since 1610 Ertatsminda became an ancestral tomb to Giorgi Saakadze and his descendant Tarkhan Mouravi. Severed head of Paata, Giorgi Saakadze’s son, is buried here.

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