10 km from Gori, on the bank of the river Mtkvari, there stands one of the rarest monuments in the world – the ancient town fortification Uplistsikhe, an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia. It was first mentioned in the annals of the 1st century BC and prospered in the IX -X centuries.
Even from afar, this quaint rocky city looks bewitching. Looking like giant pores on the rocks gape the cave grottoes, which used to be full of life. Long time ago there were huge majestic halls, temples, dwellings connected by winding corridors of streets. It is hard to believe that this grandiose titanic creation of the whole city from stone was done by human hands.
Hundreds of different structures – temples, public buildings, houses, streets, squares etc. were cut inside the rock. Despite the non-standard approach to the construction, the buildings of Uplistsikhe accurately repeat the samples of conventional architecture: columns, pilasters, capitals, arches, etc. The city was surrounded by the protective moat surrounding it from the east and the north. Uplistsikhe had four gates from all four directions.
The cave city still has the two-column “reception hall of Queen Tamara” with arch niches and huge pylons. It is magnificent in its sizes, perfect workmanship, and graceful architectural forms. Some premises, wine storages, fragments of temples and fortifications, the secret underground tunnel used for water supply are still intact.
Uplistsikhe was a cult temple city, a large pagan centre prior to Christianity introduction in Georgia (the 4th century). They observed every possible pagan rituals, and sacrifices. Later Christian churches were built.
In the 13th century, Uplistsikhe was destroyed as a result of devastating invasion of Genghis -khan hordes to Georgia.
In the 19th century, Uplistsikhe was lost under the layers of dirt and sand. Huge efforts of many experts in its excavation, cleaning, strengthening, restoration, and studying of this outstanding historical monument in the history of Georgian culture revived Uplistsikhe, which is listed among the historical monuments protected by UNESCO.