Uplistsikhe, ancient town in a rock in Georgia
Русская версия Not far from Stalin’s birthplace, Gori, there is an unusual place – Uplistsikhe – a rock-hewn town. It is not just one of the first settlements in Georgian territory, but also one of the first town settlements in the whole Caucasus.
To get to Uplistsikhe you need to take a bus from the bus station in Gori. They depart every hour till 18.00 and cost (in 2013) 1 lari. That is how the bus looks like.
The bus stops 1.5 kms before Uplistsikhe. Our bus driver offered to drive us to Uplistsikhe itself for 7 laris, trying to convince us that the way was 7 kms long. We don’t pay to liars, that is why we went on foot, as the town is actually well seen from the bus stop.
The road from the bus stop to Uplistsikhe goes through the Georgian village and crosses Kura river:
Rocks surrounding Uplistsikhe are very picturesque and unusual. Once they protected the town from invasions.
Uplistsikhe was also defended by the ditch; it had a gate, streets, water-supply, and sewer system. Its most ancient objects date back to the III BC. After Mongols came in XIII-XIV centuries, killed 5000 of local monks and destroyed the considerable part of the city, it was deserted. Nowadays it is incredible, how well it has been preserved although it has not been used for such a long time and despite erosions and earthquakes. In its Golden Age, Uplistsikhe more than 700 caves and cave structures, 150 still exist today. That is what its keepers suggest not to do in order to preserve in further on:
The architecture of Uplistsikhe is unusual not for Georgia only, but to the whole Caucasus. The constructors tried to reproduce the details characteristic the traditional stone or wooden architecture. Many rock rooms are decorated with the imitation of wooden and stone beams, columns and other elements. Thanks to the fact that Uplistsikhe is carved in stone, the elements of different epochs from the most ancient to the Middle Age ones peacefully coexist in it.
As a visitor you will start from the tunnel leading from the river up to the town:
One of the curious objects in Uplistsikhe is its drugstore. In the cells, constructed from the bricks, the archeologists discovered the remains of various herbs which had obviously been used for medications and cosmetics.
In Uplistsikhe, one may see the remains of a pagan temple along with the later orthodox churches. But, to say the truth, the pagan temples were sometimes rebuilt into orthodox churches to use the existing edifices.
And many other constructions:
An excellent view opens up from the top of Uplistsikhe down the valley of the river Kura:
And the remains of the North-Eastern settlement of Uplistsikhe:
We spent about an hour in Uplistsikhe and at 17.33 (just in case) took one of the last marshrutkas to Gori. The price is the same – one lari per person. In Gori, at the central Stalin avenue we a fould a café with wi-fi and excellent Georgian food. In the evening we departed to Zugdidi by the night train to visit, perhaps, one of the most picturesque regions in Georgia – Mestia.