Georgia has a number of special places of interest that tell more about the country’s history. One such place is the cave city of Uplistsikhe. Located about 10 kilometers east of the city of Gori, this ancient settlement is an absolute must-see during a visit to Georgia. It is beautifully situated along the Kura river and from the rock-hewn caves you have a beautiful view of the surroundings. In this article I’ll explain more about the historical significance of this city and why it’s definitely worth a visit.
A brief history of Uplistsikhe
Uplistsikhe is one of the oldest settlements in Georgia. Scientists believe that the town originated around the year 1800 BC. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that period. More we know about the Hellenistic period (323-31 BC). Uplistsikhe was at that time an important political, religious and cultural center. The city consisted of walls, towers, a water irrigation system, tunnels, temples and churches. Some objects, including coins are attributed to this period by archaeologists. The cave city was part of what the Greeks and Romans at that time referred to as the Kingdom of Iberia.
In the fourth century AD, the arrival of a Catholic monarch converted many of the inhabitants to Christianity. Uplistsikhe lost its position as an important center with the rise of nearby Mtscheta and Tbilisi. This changed with the arrival of the Arabs. Between 600 and 900, the cave city again became an important center. Most of the archaeological material found dates back to this period. In addition, we also know that a number of churches were built, including a basilica.
Because of the Mongol invasions in the fourteenth century, the inhabitants left the city. Since that time, Uplistsikhe has never regained its importance. In 1920, an earthquake hit the region and some of the monuments were largely damaged. The Georgian government inscribed the cave city for the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
The highlights of Uplistsikhe
If you are planning to visit Uplistsikhe, consider taking an audio tour. In this audio tour, you will get a better explanation of what the purpose of each place was. Below is a map of the city. A visit usually takes a couple of hours and is not suitable for people with mobility problems. It is an uphill climb via stairs and rocks.
A short impression of the cave city of Uplistsikhe can be found below.
Is it worth a visit?
Georgia, in addition to Uplistsikhe, also has the cave city of Vardzia. You can find it 100 kilometers southwest of Gori. Personally I found Vardzia more beautiful and interesting. It is located in a rugged area, is steeper than Vardzia and has even more to offer than Uplistsikhe. Nevertheless, a visit to Uplistsikhe is definitely recommended. If you use car rental in Gori, you can visit the cave city first and then continue to the Stalin Museum in the afternoon.
Pracktical information about Uplistsikhe?
How to get there? The best way to get to Uplistsikhe is by cab. However, minibuses also leave for the cave city from the bus station in Gori. There is also a train station in the small village, but most trains do not stop at this stop. Furthermore, there are also a few hotels around, however, a visit to the cave city takes a few hours at most.
Opening hours: Uplistsikhe can only be visited during opening hours, usually between 10 am and 5 pm.
Do you have any tips or comments about this beautiful cave city in Georgia? Then feel free to leave a comment below.