Gori Castle

Gori Castle lies in the center of the city of the same name, in the Gori municipality in the Shida Kartli region in Georgia.

Although Gori Castle was first mentioned in the 7th century, archaeological evidence has showed that this rocky hill had already been fortified in the last centuries BC. It is situated at a very strategic position; a hill near the confluence of the rivers Liakhvi, Mejuda and Kura (called the Mtkvari in Georgia). The city that grew up around it was founded in the 12th century.

At the end of the 13th century the castle was in the hands of Ossetians. They were expelled in the 20's of the 14th century by George V of Georgia after a 3-year-long siege.

Around 1474 Gori Castle was taken by Uzun Hasan, Shah of the Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkomans). In 1479 Constantine II of Georgia took the castle back.

In the middle of the 16th century Georgia was several times conquered by the Safavid Shah Tahmasp I. The first 3 times however he was not able to conquer the castle. Only when he came back a 4th time was he able to take it, but only for a short period before the Ottomans took it.

Between 1578 and 1590 Simon I of Kartli, who was released from Safavid captivity in Iran to fight against the Ottomans, tried in vain to take the castle several times. In 1599 he again besieged Gori Castle. This siege lasted 9 months and was successful after his army feigned a relaxation of the siege for Lent before launching a surprise attack at night.

During the 17th century the castle continued to change hands between the Georgians and the Safavids. At the beginning of this century it was taken by Shah Abbas I of Persia for a short time but this left the castle severely damaged. Directly after it was quickly rebuilt by Rostom of Kartli.

At the beginning of the 18th century Gori Castle was still considered strong and it was often visited by Vakhtang VI of Kartli. After he had moved to Russia, the area was ruled by Ottomans. Prince Givi Amilakhvari took over the castle only for it to be conquered, during the rebellion against the Safavid Empire in 1742-45, by the Persian army of Nader Shah, led by Teimuraz II of Kakheti and his son Erekle II, who had sided with the Shah. In 1774 it was rebuilt by Erekle.

In 1801, when Georgia was part of the Russian Empire, Gori Castle was garrisoned with a battalion of Russian grenadiers. Later that century it lost its strategic importance.

In 1920 the castle was severly damaged during an earthquake.

Gori Castle has an elongated irregular shape as its walls follow the outline of the hill. In the west its walls reach down to river level; this part is called 'The Nine Gates'.

When I visited there were archaeological excavations going on. At the east end of the castle they were unearthing a concrete structure, which looked to me like a kind of shelter dating back to the Soviet era. Do you know something about this structure; if so, please mail me.

At present Gori Castle is freely accessbile. Even though its interior is rather empty, this is still a mighty castle ruin.


Gallery

Gori Castle

Gori Castle lies in the center of the city of the same name, in the Gori municipality in the Shida Kartli region in Georgia.

Although Gori Castle was first mentioned in the 7th century, archaeological evidence has showed that this rocky hill had already been fortified in the last centuries BC. It is situated at a very strategic position; a hill near the confluence of the rivers Liakhvi, Mejuda and Kura (called the Mtkvari in Georgia). The city that grew up around it was founded in the 12th century.

At the end of the 13th century the castle was in the hands of Ossetians. They were expelled in the 20's of the 14th century by George V of Georgia after a 3-year-long siege.

Around 1474 Gori Castle was taken by Uzun Hasan, Shah of the Aq Qoyunlu (White Sheep Turkomans). In 1479 Constantine II of Georgia took the castle back.

In the middle of the 16th century Georgia was several times conquered by the Safavid Shah Tahmasp I. The first 3 times however he was not able to conquer the castle. Only when he came back a 4th time was he able to take it, but only for a short period before the Ottomans took it.

Between 1578 and 1590 Simon I of Kartli, who was released from Safavid captivity in Iran to fight against the Ottomans, tried in vain to take the castle several times. In 1599 he again besieged Gori Castle. This siege lasted 9 months and was successful after his army feigned a relaxation of the siege for Lent before launching a surprise attack at night.

During the 17th century the castle continued to change hands between the Georgians and the Safavids. At the beginning of this century it was taken by Shah Abbas I of Persia for a short time but this left the castle severely damaged. Directly after it was quickly rebuilt by Rostom of Kartli.

At the beginning of the 18th century Gori Castle was still considered strong and it was often visited by Vakhtang VI of Kartli. After he had moved to Russia, the area was ruled by Ottomans. Prince Givi Amilakhvari took over the castle only for it to be conquered, during the rebellion against the Safavid Empire in 1742-45, by the Persian army of Nader Shah, led by Teimuraz II of Kakheti and his son Erekle II, who had sided with the Shah. In 1774 it was rebuilt by Erekle.

In 1801, when Georgia was part of the Russian Empire, Gori Castle was garrisoned with a battalion of Russian grenadiers. Later that century it lost its strategic importance.

In 1920 the castle was severly damaged during an earthquake.

Gori Castle has an elongated irregular shape as its walls follow the outline of the hill. In the west its walls reach down to river level; this part is called 'The Nine Gates'.

When I visited there were archaeological excavations going on. At the east end of the castle they were unearthing a concrete structure, which looked to me like a kind of shelter dating back to the Soviet era. Do you know something about this structure; if so, please mail me.

At present Gori Castle is freely accessbile. Even though its interior is rather empty, this is still a mighty castle ruin.


Gallery