Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Fortress and City of Gori, Georgia

Previous Post: Jvari Monastery and the City of Uplistsikhe, Georgia.
July 2015
When our group left Uplistsikhe, we headed to the small city of Gori, Georgia. "Gori" means "hill" and is the birthplace of Joseph Stalin (1878-1953). There is a museum dedicated to his belongings and his leadership located in the town square. The fee is nominal and the square is a nice place to relax. The day we arrived, there were hardly any people around and I think this is partially because it was at least 100 degrees.

I found the museum to be small, too hot, dusty, and drab. No photos were allowed inside the museum and while I will occasionally break this (always without flash), the only items on exhibit were old and dusty clothing, a few paintings and drawings, and various framed documents in Russian. Completely not my kind of museum. There was a smaller museum which consisted of one train car, but as it was an extra fee, I opted not to see inside it. People coming out of the train car were audibly underwhelmed. One can tell this in pretty much any language. I went to the central grocery store instead and bought some apple juice.

Right in front of the Stalin museum center is Stalin's birth home, preserved under a stone framework. The little house is very modest and had several plaques around it.

Gori has been invaded multiple times over the centuries and as late as 2008 had Russian troops occupying the area. It was inhabited by people of Iranian heritage, called the Alanians or Alans as well as people of Armenian descent. Most of Georgia was in dispute at one time or another over its history. Monguls invaded the Eastern Georgian territories as well as Arabs, Ottomans, Iranians, and Persians.
The Medieval Gori Fortress rests atop a hill overlooking the town of Gori. The immediate area has empty guard stands, decrepit walkways, and rusting handrails (where they haven't already fallen down). I learned that there was an earthquake in 1920 that destroyed many buildings in town and did damage to the fortress. From wikipedia "The fortress first appears in the 13th century records but archaeological evidence shows that the area had already been fortified in the last centuries BC. The fortress controlled major strategic and economic routes and accommodated a large garrison. In the 16th century the Ottomans captured it to overawe Tbilisi, and then it continually changed hands between the Turks, the Georgians, and the Persians."

One can walk up to the fortress and around it on a lower level. Next, a layer of ground mid-fortress level contains a few openings to empty room areas. Then, one can walk up a series of steps into the top level of the fortress. There is an empty guard area and old security surveillance setup, but it was completely empty when I climbed up, after my fellow adventurers were on their way down (van of Latvians, see previous post!) Even though I do not know very much about architectural styles, I do enjoy seeing Medieval styles from around the world. I also LOVE photographing doorways and windows.
View from the top of Gori fortress, overlooking the city on one side and the low-lying beginning of the Caucasus mountain range on the other side and in the distance here. At some point, I would like to return to Georgia and visit the higher Caucasus mountains.

I must add here that it was pretty cool to be the only one in the fortress for a while. I stood still for a while, listening to the wind against my ears and body. I imagined what it would have been like in the Medieval times when the fortress was an active bulwark. I wondered what the city below would have looked like or if it would have been as hot as it was this day. I spent a few moments feeling myself standing, swayed by the wind, pondering about wars and humanity on the Earth. What a cool place this fortress was! Then, I decided that it was an awesome place to eat the remainder of my leftover Tbilisi cheese sandwich as well....and so it was.
At the top, I made a little video and please excuse me, but for half the day, I thought we were going to Batumi Fortress and as it turned out, it's simply called Gori fortress and Batumi is a Georgian city along the Black Sea. Here's the video link
In fact, Here's the whole Flickr album of my Georgia photos!

All in all, I was glad to visit Gori, but we didn't stay there for much longer than it took to explore the fortress and visit the Stalin museum. The next post will explore the Svetitskhoveli Church in Mtskheta.
Super cool apple juice label - I LOVE the Georgian script!

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