The ancient and now abandoned rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe is located in Eastern Georgia and is a must to any trip to Georgia. Uplistsikhe is on the UNESCO list and means “the fortress of the Lord”.
Uplistsikhe does slightly reminds Cappadocia (Turkey) and Northern Iran. The Cave Town-Fortress is situated on a rocky massif 10 km from Gori and has stunning views over Mtkvari Valley.
Uplistsikhe- the Ancient cave town in Georgia
The Uplistsikhe site dates back to as early as the second millennium BC, witnessing key events and playing an important role in Georgian history. Being for centuries one of the most important political and religious centres of pre-Christianity.
When Christianity arrived in the country the city lost importance for Mtskheta and Tbilisi. But still adapted to the new reality, building some Christian structures. In the 13th century, during the Mongol conquest, Uplistsikhe faced a rapid decline and large parts of the city were destroyed.
The Uplistsikhe complex
The complex can be divided into 3 main parts, that are all connected by tunnels. Some of those tunnels also had the purpose of an emergency escape route. The Lower, central and upper area.
There are numerous temples related to the sun goddess and most of the rock-cut structures, don’t show any decorative elements, aside from some of the larger structures, which contain some stone carvings.
The area has a Christian stone basilica from the 10th century and also pagan places of sacrifice, dwellings, a pharmacy, a bakery, a prison, a theatre and even an amphitheatre.
The views from the cliff over the village and the Mtkvari river are spectacular.
How to get to Uplistsikhe
You can either travel by train or marshrutka from Tbilisi to Gori (1.5 hours). When in Gori you have 3 options.
Go on a bike trip, take a taxi to the cave (just remember to negotiate the rate), or by bus from Gori the only problem is that the bus is not very frequent and you have to walk around 1 km from the village to the cave town.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha