Need hotel?
  • Room #1
    Adults
    Children
    Child's age
Place of stay
Check in
Check out
Guests and rooms
Number of rooms
  • Room #1
    Adults
    Children
    Child's age
Recommended hotels
Continent Cron Palace Hotel Tbilisi
Continent Cron Palace Hotel Tbilisi
TripAdvisor rating Based on 206 reviews
View more
Riverside Hotel
Riverside Hotel
TripAdvisor rating Based on 460 reviews
View more
Radisson Blu Iveria
Radisson Blu Iveria
TripAdvisor rating Based on 1384 reviews
View more
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel
Tbilisi Marriott Hotel
TripAdvisor rating Based on 631 reviews
View more
Diplomat Hotel
Diplomat Hotel
TripAdvisor rating Based on 83 reviews
View more

The Corners of Georgia: The Cave City-Monastery of Uplistsikhe

Antique cave city Uplistsikhe, Georgia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Antique cave city Uplistsikhe, Georgia

Uplistsikhe is a cave-city located about 10 km east of Gorio. This ancient cave settlement is sometimes compared to Vardzia – another Georgian city situated within a cave complex. Uplistsikhe was also a lively political and cultural centre. People used to live here in rooms they carved out of caves and decorated with eloquent frescos.

The 3,000-year-old Uplistsikhe has an interesting history. It is thought that the settlement was founded on the rocky slopes of the River Mtkvari over 3,000 years ago, and was fully abandoned only at the turn of the 20th century. Even when the caves were eventually abandoned, some people simply moved to a nearby village, which itself eventually disappeared in the 1990s.

Tourists visiting ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Tourists visiting ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia

Once in Georgia, tourists often have to choose between Vardzia and Uplistsikhe. Those who choose the latter usually do it because of its geography – Uplistsikhe is located only 80 km from Tbilisi. Since 2010, it also has a campsite where you can set up your tent, cook up some shashlik and have a nice picnic by a close-by stream.

Uplistsikhe was founded right after the tribes of Kartli reached the banks of the Mtkvari River. Historical artefacts and trade documents have revealed that the city had commercial ties to the ancient Urartu and Mdian civilisations. Once the Kingdom of Iberia emerged in what is today Georgia, Uplistsikhe became a part of it and was considered to be a cultural centre, where the most important religious services and sacrifices took place.

Antique cave city Uplistsikhe, Georgia
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Antique cave city Uplistsikhe, Georgia

The Temple of the Sun God – built at the settlement’s highest peak – became the most important centre of the Uplistsikhe complex. This is why the city became so strong after Georgia was christened in 33 AD. Its conflict with the then-capital Mccheta turned into a full-on war which significantly damaged the city and completely destroyed the temple.

Ancient Orthodox Church in antique cave city Uplistsikhe
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Ancient Orthodox Church in antique cave city Uplistsikhe

The passionate Christians of Georgia have since rebuilt some of the city’s temples and transformed them into Orthodox churches. In the 6th century, one of the largest of the remaining churches was turned into a three-domed basilica. Even though it doesn’t exist today, its separate fragments can still be recognised – you can spot them near the southwestern wall of Uplistsikhe’s Orthodox church.

Write comment