Gori and Uplistsikhe are two of the most fascinating destinations in Georgia, offering a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the country. Gori is a small city located in the heart of the Shida Kartli region, while Uplistsikhe is an ancient cave city situated just outside of Gori.
Legend has it that Gori was founded by the legendary King David the Builder, who is said to have built a fortress in the area in the 12th century. Today, Gori is best known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, the infamous Soviet leader.
Just outside of Gori lies Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city that dates back to the 6th century BC. Uplistsikhe was once an important center of pagan worship and was later used as a fortress during the Arab invasions of Georgia. The city is comprised of a series of interconnected caves, tunnels, and rooms that were carved out of the rock face. Visitors can explore the city's narrow streets and passages, admire the intricate carvings and frescoes that adorn the walls, and imagine what life was like for the people who once lived there.
What to see
- Stalin Museum: Visitors can explore the Stalin Museum, which includes a tour of the house where Stalin was born and raised, as well as a collection of his personal effects. One interesting legend about the museum is that the wax figure of Stalin in the museum is said to have been cursed. According to the legend, anyone who touches the figure will suffer from bad luck.
- Gori Fortress: This ancient fortress overlooks the city of Gori and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. According to legend, the fortress was built by King David IV of Georgia, who was known as David the Builder. The story goes that King David was hunting in the area and he saw a vision of a bright star in the sky. He took this as a sign from God and decided to build a fortress on the spot where he saw the star.
- Uplistsikhe Cave City - The Uplistsikhe Cave City offers stunning views of the Mtkvari River and the surrounding valleys. According to legend, Uplistsikhe was once the home of the ancient Georgian god of the sun, Dali. It is said that Dali chose the site for its natural beauty and that he used his powers to carve the caves and tunnels into the rock. Another legend tells the story of a young girl named Tamar who lived in Uplistsikhe. Tamar was in love with a young man who lived in a nearby village, but her father disapproved of the relationship. One day, Tamar's father ordered her to marry a rich merchant. Tamar refused and instead chose to jump off the edge of the cliff to her death.
- Ateni Sioni Church: This 7th-century church is famous for its beautiful frescoes, which depict scenes from the life of Christ. Legend has it that the church was built on the site where a miraculous event occurred. According to the legend, a shepherd was tending his flock in the area when he saw a bright light in the distance. He followed the light and found a spring of healing water. The shepherd built a small church on the site and it became a place of pilgrimage for those seeking healing.
- Shida Kartli Wind Farm - The Shida Kartli Wind Farm is located on a hill overlooking Gori and offers stunning views of the city and the surrounding countryside.
Whether you're interested in history, culture, or just want to explore some of the most fascinating sites in Georgia, a visit to Gori and Uplistsikhe is sure to be a memorable experience.
Where to eat
There are several good cafes and restaurants in Gori and Uplistsikhe where you can enjoy Georgian cuisine and relax after a day of sightseeing. Here are some options:
- Kafe Batoni - a cozy cafe with outdoor seating and a variety of Georgian and European dishes.
- Pakarati - a popular restaurant with a traditional Georgian atmosphere and delicious food.
- Dzveli Sakhli - a traditional Georgian restaurant with a beautiful garden and live music.
- Cave Cafe Uplistsikhe - a unique cafe located inside a cave, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
- Taverna Uplistsikhe - a traditional Georgian restaurant with a terrace overlooking the ancient caves and offering a variety of Georgian dishes.
- Upliscixe Restaurant - a cozy restaurant located in a historic building with a beautiful garden and a variety of Georgian and European dishes.
All of these cafes and restaurants offer a great opportunity to taste delicious Georgian cuisine and enjoy the atmosphere of Gori and Uplistsikhe.
Where to stay for a night
- Hotel Villa Klikhia: Located in Gori, this hotel offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities such as air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Georgian and European cuisine, and a garden where guests can relax.
- Hotel Old Town: This hotel is situated in the heart of Gori, just a short walk away from the Stalin Museum. The rooms are decorated in a traditional Georgian style and feature air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Georgian cuisine.
- Hotel Tskaltubo Plaza: Located in Uplistsikhe, this hotel offers comfortable rooms with air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and a flat-screen TV. The hotel has a restaurant serving Georgian and European cuisine, as well as a terrace with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.
- Hotel Riverside: Situated in Uplistsikhe, this hotel is located on the banks of the Mtkvari River, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area. The rooms feature air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Georgian and European cuisine.
- Hotel Otskhanuri: This hotel is located in the village of Shida Kartli, just a short drive from Gori and Uplistsikhe. The rooms feature air conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and satellite TV. The hotel also has a restaurant serving Georgian cuisine and a garden where guests can relax.
These are just a few options, but there are many other hotels and guesthouses in the area to choose from depending on your preferences and budget.
Parking in Gori and Uplistsikhe
In Gori, there are several paid parking lots available in the city center, near the Stalin Museum and the central market. It's advisable to use the parking lots instead of parking on the street to avoid getting a parking ticket. Some hotels in Gori also offer their own parking spaces for guests.
In Uplistsikhe, there is a large parking lot available for visitors right at the entrance of the archaeological site. The parking fee is usually included in the ticket price for the site. However, during peak tourist season, the parking lot may get crowded, so it's advisable to arrive early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and ensure a parking spot.
Tips for drivers
Here are some tips for drivers visiting Gori and Uplistsikhe:
- Roads in some parts of the region may be narrow and winding, so it is advisable to drive carefully and be alert for other vehicles, pedestrians, and animals.
- Be aware that some roads in rural areas may not be paved, so be prepared for rough terrain and adjust your driving accordingly.
- In the summer months, the temperature in Gori and Uplistsikhe can be quite high, so make sure your vehicle is in good condition and carry extra water and snacks.
- If you plan to park in Gori, be sure to check the parking regulations and signs to avoid fines or towing.
- In Uplistsikhe, the parking area is located at the bottom of the hill, and visitors must walk up a steep path to reach the site. Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some physical activity.
- It is also advisable to carry cash with you, as some small businesses in rural areas may not accept credit cards.
The closest international airport to Gori and Uplistsikhe is the Tbilisi International Airport. You can rent a car at the airport or in Tbilisi and drive to Gori, which is located approximately 90 kilometers away. The journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the traffic.