Gori, Cave Town Uplistsikhe
Gori is one of the oldest cities in Georgia. The city takes its name from a rocky hill (gora) in the center of the city, on which the remains of the ancient Goris-tsikhe are located.
The cave town is called Uplistsikhe, and the name can be translated as “fortress of the lord”. The history of this complex is unique, it was carved into rock about 5-4 thousand years ago is mentioned in the sources of the 7th century AD.
Mtskheta is an ancient city of Georgia, founded in the 4th century BC. The Spanish author of the XIX century, Juan Van Halen, who visited these places, speaking about Mtskheta, also noted that one of the nearest descendants of Noah, namely Mtskhetos, the founder of the city, elected him his capital, and not so much because of the charm of the place, but mainly for the reason of its convenient location.
Mtskheta (მცხეთა) is a very old city, the very first capital of Georgia, in fact the heart of Georgian civilization, Although only a few churches were preserved from the past, the two of them being large.
In the IV century, St. Nina lived in this town and it was here that took place all the events, associated with the Baptism of Georgia. Already in the 5th century, the capital gradually moved to Tbilisi, but Mtskheta remained an important transit trading city, through which caravan routes passed north through the mountains to Alanya.
Now it is one of the most popular tourist sites in Georgia and the state keeps investing here. In 2010, works were underway to improve the city: roads we paved, the facades combed, various things altered. Now here also is an information center, souvenirs, a museum, and a cozy atmosphere, which is generally the most important thing.
Day 1. You will visit
The Stalin Museum
The Joseph Stalin Museum in Gori (Georgia) is a historical museum in Georgia devoted to the life of the most famous native of the city, Joseph Vissarionovich Jugashvili (Stalin), who became the head of the Soviet government and in fact led the Soviet Union in 1925-1953.
The museum has three departments, all located in the central district of the city. The main building is a large palazzo in Stalinist Gothic style, the construction of which was started in 1951 as a local museum of history, but it is quite obvious that it was to become a memorial to Stalin. The exposition includes many things, in fact or supposedly belonging to Stalin, including a piece of furniture from his study rooms, and gifts. Also, here is presented a large number of illustrations, paintings, documents, photographs and newspaper articles. The display of the exposition ends with one of the twelve copies of the posthumous mask of Stalin.
Before the main museum there is the house in which Stalin was born and where he spent the first four years of his life.
The museum also features Stalin’s personal railway car-carriage. He used the car since 1941, including for trips to the Tehran and Yalta conferences. It was transferred to the museum by the North Caucasian Railway in 1985.
The name of this city carved into the rock is translated from Georgian as “Fortress of the Lord”. Its history goes into such a distant past, that it can’t be quite clearly understood with the help of historical documents and legends. By the generally accepted opinion the first settlements in Uplistsikhe began to appear in 3-2nd Millennia BC, approximately in the VI-V centuries it gradually begins to become a city, and already in the IV-III centuries becomes a major strategic and a cultural center with all the necessary infrastructure.
Its areas are gradually formed – the “upper”, where at the highest point was located the pagan temple of the Sun, and the “inner”, which was a residential quarter. After distribution of christianity in Kartli, Uplistsikhe, which preserved the pagan cult, for some time has a strong resistance against Mtskheta, which was at that time a cultural, religious and political center of Kartli. Resistance was suppressed, and the temple of the sun was destroyed. In the era of the Arab occupation, Uplistsikhe was one of the main outposts for patriotic forces fighting against the foreign occupation. After that Uplistsikhe gradually loses its status, and the invasion of the Mongols greatly damages it. The decline of the city enters its final phase in the XV-XVI centuries, after the collapse of the Georgian kingdom. Finally, it dies out in the XIX century.
Ateni Sioni is a temple in the village of Ateni, a little south of Gori, on the left bank of the Tana River. This temple was built a little later than the famous Jvari, at the very beginning of the 7th century. Inside there are frescoes of the 11th century. Ateni Sioni was built by the Armenian architect Todosak accrording to the model of the Jvari temple (the architect’s inscription is preserved on the temple). This church is interesting from the point of view of Georgian writing. It contained the earliest inscription in the font “hutsuri” and the earliest inscription in the font “mhedrudi”. The present Ateni Sioni is among the small remains of the structures in the Tana gorge. Once there was a large city of Ateni, several castles and about three hundred monasteries. Something else was preserved in the far corners of the gorge. From the city of Ateni there is only a castle over the village Didi-Ateni and the Temple of Sioni. Not far from Ateni Sioni is now located a functioning nunnery with a very cozy territory.
October 14 in Georgia is celebrated the feast of the Lord’s Chiton – Svetitskhovloba, or Mtskhetoba. The center of the celebration is the Svetskhoveli Cathedral in the ancient capital of the country Mtskheta, which became the symbol of the whole Christian Georgia.
According to the legend, it was here, that the first Christian king of Georgia Mirian was baptized. He has listened to sermons by St Nino and the prayers of his wife Nana, who converted into Christianity before him. People are baptized in the church at present days.
The legend says that the chiton of Jesus Christ was brought to Georgia by Mtskhetian Jews – Rabbi Elioz and his brother Longinose, who were present at the crucifixion of Jesus and protested against the unfair trial of the Sanhedrin. Elioz gave the robe to his pious sister, the virgin Sidonia, who had heard about the preaching of Christ and recognized Him as the promised Messiah. Sidonia, having received a shrine in her hands, shocked by the murder of the Righteous, pronounced a prophecy about the end of the kingdom of Israel and immediately died. No power was able to take the Chiton of Jesus from the hands of Sidonia, so they were buried together in the royal garden.
The Pillar of life
After a while a cedar tree grew on the grave. The inhabitants of Mtskheta already forgot about Sidonia and her grave, but noticed that sick birds and animals ate pine needles and left healthy, and began to worship the tree as a deity.
Three centuries later, the holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Nino came to Georgia with the word of Christ. She wanted to come to Iberia from the very childhood, in order to worship the great shrine. Therefore, she appealed to King Mirian with a request to place a temple on the site of the grave of Sidonia.
From the sacred cedar, seven columns were cut down for the wooden temple. The seventh pillar flew into the air and no power could bring the pillar back. They called Saint Nina and after her prayer the pillar fell into place. It was this pillar that was called “Svetitskhoveli”, which means “The Life-Creating Pillar” in Georgian.
Orthodox Georgians say that the Chiton of Jesus, woven by the hands of St. Mary, is a symbol of the unity of their country – which was her territory to preach.
Perhaps this is why one of the favorite Russian Orthodox holidays – the Ssumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – and the favorite Georgian Orthodox holiday – Svetitskhovloba is celebrated on the same day.
The monastery temple of Jvari, immortalized in literature by Mikhail Lermontov (the poem “Mtsiri”), is an ancient religious monument built at the dawn of Georgian Christianity in the 6-7th century (585-604). The name Jvari (in translation from the Georgian “cross”) the temple was not accidental. This explains the ancient tradition that it was in this place that Nino placed the second Holy Cross, which marked the adoption of Christianity by Georgia. Later, a temple was built over the cross, and it was called the Temple of the Holy Cross.
“The pillars of the collapsed gate, and the tower, and the church
A vault … “- this is how Jvari is described by Lermontov. Today, everything remains the same as when the Russian classic visited it.