Upon arrival in Gori, the birthplace town of Stalin in the heart of Georgia, I directly went to a group of taxi drivers and negotiated a price for a taxi for a trip to Uplistsikhe. Fortunately, my guide had a language section, because communication was not all easy. Soon, I found myself in an old Lada, and the good humoured driver negotiating the potholes in the road towards Uplistsikhe. We passed several villages, followed the river Mtkvari and finally crossed it to arrive at the entrance of Uplistsikhe. It seemed deserted, and after paying my entrance fee, I almost automatically had a guide coming with me. I decided it would be worth to have him explain the history of the site.
He explained that millions of years ago, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea were one, and the Caucasian region emerged from below, thus creating Georgia. In the 16th century BCE, Uplistsikhe was founded, and the town was hewn out of the sandstone rocks. Walking on the site now, it takes effort to imagine that the town was actually mostly covered - the houses, temples, palaces were all dug out of the rocks. According to legend, the slaves that built the town were given an axe of gold, with an iron end. The harder they worked, carving the buildings out of the sandstone rocks, the earlier they were left with a piece of pure gold.
Most of the ceilings have not been able to withstand earthquakes and Mongols destroying Uplistsikhe. Still, it is impressive to see wine presses in the rocks, remains of a pharmacy, the interior of the king's palace, the streets with a sewer system, and remains of pagan temples. Uplistsikhe sits on a strategical position, the cliffs and the river below offering natural defences. Nevertheless, the town was conquered and destroyed, and people set up a new village that can be seen below, on the banks of the river. The current village of Uplistsikhe lies on the other side of the river.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Uplistsikhe (Georgia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Uplistsikhe. Read more about this site.