About Uplistsikhe

Best time to visit: All Season

Uplistsikhe - a rock-hewn town, one of the oldest settlements in the Caucasus and a city center. It is located in Shida Kartli Region, 10 km east of the city of Gori, on the left bank of the river Mtkvari.

Nowadays, it is a historical-architectural museum-reserve of Uplistsikhe. There are streets, squares, a sewer system, four gates, a secret tunnel that leads to the river Mtkvari, a fence, and so on. Nowadays, it is considered to be an open-air museum.

In the written sources it is first mentioned in the VII century. Archaeological and architectural monuments are preserved in Uplistsikhe and its surroundings, the oldest of which dates back to the Early Bronze Age and belongs to the Mtkvari-Araksi culture (Settlements in Lashetkhevi, Gudabertka, near Gori). The lower layer of Katlanikhevi is dates back to the end of the Middle Bronze Age.

Where does the name "Uplistsikhe" come from?

Uplistsikhe was the residence of the Lord of the local tribal leader. It was named so because the leader of the tribe had a great power. The name also comes from here. Lord of the fortress, or in short Uplistsikhe. The name Uplistsikhe was still used during idolatry, therefore the Lordship of the Tribe Leader is a term denoting power and not religion.

Legend about Uplistsikhe

According to the legend, Uplistsikhe was built by slaves. The slaves were given a pickaxe, half of which was covered with iron, thus excavating the caves, and the other half with gold. The slaves had to work hard to outwore the ordinary metal, after which the slave received freedom and precious metal or gold as a gift.

Therefore, two things are clear. One is how much effort has been put into carving the city and the other is that gold was indeed being mined in Georgia and the legend of the Golden Fleece is no longer dispelled.


The ensemble carved into the Uplistsikhe rock and the settlements grouped around it have come a long way in development. The rock-cut settlement became the residence of the hegemon communities living near Uplistsikhe, and then the tribal union center of “Zena Village” (shida kartli), where the commander of this union (village headman), the Lord sat (hence the name Uplistsikhe). From the early antique period (VI-IV centuries AD) Uplistsikhe was an urban-type settlement, which became a major urban center in the early Hellenistic period (at the end of the IV century AD - III century). The rock-cut settlement became the inner city of the ancient city. From the IV century Uplistsikhe, like some other cities, demoted and only the southern strategic importance remained. During the struggle for the unification of Georgia (IX-X centuries), the weakened fortress-town of Uplistsikhe passed from hand to hand. In the IX-X centuries, Georgian kings, princes of Kakheti and kings of Armenia fought for dominance in Uplistsikhe. Uplistsikhe gradually lost its significance after the political unification of Georgia (70s of the X century). This process was crowned by the liberation of Tbilisi by David Agmashenebeli in 1122.

Tags: #History #Church #Culture #Monastery #Historical Monument


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