In the center of the city of Gori, on a hill rises the old Gori fortress. This ancient ruin has a long history which historians say started in the seventh century. Anyone who has time to explore this city should definitely visit the ancient fortress. Firstly, it is free to visit, secondly, on top of the hill you have a beautiful view of Gori and the surrounding area and finally, it was once a beautiful castle. How we know this? It’s because of the Italian missionary Teramo Christoforo Castelli….
Teramo Castelli – His life in Georgia
Teramo Christoforo Castelli was born in 1597 in the same city as Christopher Columbus, Genoa. At a young age he moved to Palermo where he studied philosophy and theology. He showed great interest in the work of a missionary. Therefore, he decided to apply for a mission of the Theatines, a male priesthood, to Georgia. In 1631 he left Italy and on July 1632 he finally reached the city of Gori. It was the beginning of a 20-year tour that would not be entirely trouble-free. It was the beginning of a 20-year tour that would not be entirely trouble-free. And that was in part due to the corruption of the clergy and the little respect they had from the population.
But in addition Castelli visited the region while the Kingdom of Kartli (1484-1762), in which the city of Gori was located was in full battle with the Persians and the Ottomans. And that struggle between various peoples is typical for the history of this city.
The Medieval Gori Fortress
It is not entirely clear when a fort was first built here. It could be that a fortification was already present in the century BC. However, historians believe that the construction of a castle began in the sixth or seventh century.
In any case, Gori was located on an essential trade route, which made it strategically very interesting. The Ottomans managed to take control of the city in the sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century it was alternately in the hands of the Georgians or the Persians. But we do know that there was a beautiful castle on this hill in this century because of one historical source
The Gori fort – Then and now
In addition to missionary work, Castelli worked as a physician and painter/drawer. During his 20 years through Georgia, he made more than a thousand sketches of the daily life of the local people. He also made a sketch of the Gori fortress in 1642. Okay, you love it or hate it, but it gives a great picture of what the fort must have looked like by then.
When Georgia became part of Russia in the early nineteenth century, the fortress was abandoned and fell into a state of disrepair. The earthquake of 1920 also damaged the old fortress. But fortunately we still have drawing from an Italian missionary….
Planning a visit to the Gori fortress?
There is not much left to see of the old fortress. Yet the beautiful view of the city makes up for a lot. Within 20 minutes you are on the hill and within an hour you can be back down. If you have time to spare then the fort is definitely worth it. And do not forget to make a circle around, because there are still some special monuments to see.
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