East of Gori lies the ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe, meaning “the lord’s fortress”. Built on a high rocky bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages.
When we arrived it was sunny but soon clouds moved in and a cold wind made us cover up as much as possible, using the shelter of the caves.
People already settled here in the 2nd millennium BC. The fortress city developed into a trading center on the Silk Road with once around 5,000 inhabitants. Attempts to conquer Uplistsikhe failed for centuries. It was not until the 13th century that the Mongol ruler Ögedei Khan succeeded in taking and destroying the city.
The houses are carved out of the “soft” rock, have columns and vaulted ceilings. Some of these dwellings even have a ceiling that imitates beams of a wooden roof.
We had a ticket including a wine tasting in a rebuilt traditional wine cellar. The wine we could taste was also produced traditionally, where it stays with the skins and everything else in a clay amphora for one year. Let’s say, modern technology is more our taste.
At the entrance to Uplistsikhe we went to one of the restaurants for lunch with typical Georgian dishes, even a lot of vegetarian dishes to choose from. We had some mushrooms with herbs like coriander and Khinkali, Georgian dumplings, this time filled with cheese. Together with the Georgian bread it was delicious.
At the stall next to where we had parked, we bought some fresh walnuts, 2 kinds of jam and a cup of pomegranate juice, a little bit sour but full of vitamins (we hoped).
We are now on our way into the Great Caucasus again, going north along the Military road, leading to the Russian border. More on our next post!