Medieval castles in Georgia

Ananuri Castle

Ananuri was a castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi, a feudal dynasty which ruled the area from the 13th century. The castle was the scene of numerous battles. The current ensemble dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1739, Ananuri was attacked by forces from a rival duchy, commanded by Shanshe of Ksani and was set on fire. The Aragvi clan was massacred. However, four years later, the local peasants ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Ananuri, Georgia

Rabati Castle

Rabati Castle in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia, was originally established in the 9th century as the Lomisa Castle. It was completely rebuilt by Ottomans. Most of the surviving buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries. According to the Georgian Chronicles the city was established in the 9th century by Guaram Mampal, son of the King of Tao. From the 13th to the end of 14th centuries it was the capital city of Samtsk ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Akhaltsikhe, Georgia

Anacopia Castle

Anacopia is an ancient Abkhazian military citadel in New Athos (as it is currently known) in the Russian sponsored Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia. It is the most complete surviving building of ancient Anacopia, the former capital of the Kingdom of Abkhazia. A military structure was constructed here between the second and fourth centuries. At the end of the seventh century walls were constructed around the site o ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Akhali Atoni, Georgia

Atskuri Castle

Atskuri is a Georgian feudal fortress on the right bank of the Mtkvari (Kura) River, approximately 30 kilometres from Borjomi. Built in the 10th century, Atskuri Fortress was an important stronghold for the defense of Georgia during the Middle ages.
Founded: 10th century | Location: Atskuri, Georgia

Birtvisi Castle Ruins

Birtvisi is a ruined medieval fortress in Kvemo Kartli, Georgia, nested within limestone cliffs in the Algeti river gorge. It is now within the boundaries of the Tetri-Tsqaro municipality, adjacent to the Algeti National Park. Birtvisi is essentially a natural rocky fortress of 1 km², secured by walls and towers, the most prominent of which – known as Sheupovari ('Obstinate') – tops the tallest rock ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Tetri-Tsqaro, Georgia

Gagi Castle

The earliest sources of Gagi Castle dates from the 11th century. The Armenian historian Vardan (13th century) reported that it was built by King Gagic I (990-1020). The ruins of the castle however date from the older ages and probably Gagik I just rebuilt them. The castle controlled the route leading to Tbilisi from the south. During the 15th century it also got known as Aghjakala, meaning "White Castle", ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kushchi, Georgia

Gori Castle

Gori Castle is a medieval citadel in Georgia, standing above the city of Gori on a rocky hill. The castle 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. In 1598 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Gori, Georgia

Keselo Castle Ruins

Keselo is a small medieval fortress just above the village of Omalo. The site is surrounded by the northern slopes of the Greater Caucasus Mountains. It is bordered in the north by Republic of Chechnya and Dagestan, in the east by the Georgian historic provinces Kakheti and Pshav-Khevsureti to the south. Traditionally Tush peoples abandoned their villages and used towers as temporary shelters during raids on the ...
Founded: 1230s | Location: Omalo, Georgia

Khertvisi Castle

Khertvisi is one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia and was functional throughout the Georgian feudal period. It was first built in the 2nd century BC. The church was built in 985, and the present walls were built in 1354. As the legend says, Khertvisi was destroyed by Alexander the Great. In the 10th-11th centuries it was the center of Meskheti region. During the 12th century it became a town. In the 13th century M ...
Founded: 1354 | Location: Khertvisi, Georgia

Khornabuji Castle

Khornabuji is an ancient castle in the eastern part of Georgia. It was probably constructed, originally, at the end of the 1st millennium BC, at which time it was the only fortification controlling the valleys of the Iori and Alazani rivers. Archeology conducted during the 1970s in the area uncovered extensive evidence of the settlement that flourished in the flat land beneath the castle during and before the mediev ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dedoplistsqaro, Georgia

Mutso

Mutso is a small fortified village in Georgia. One of the former strongholds of the historic Georgian province of Khevsureti, it is located on a rocky mountain (1880 m) on the right bank of the Andakistskali river. The village, almost completely abandoned more than a century ago, is a home to approximately 30 medieval fortified dwelling units arranged on vertical terraces above the Mutso-Ardoti gorge, four combat tower ...
Founded: Middle Ages | Location: Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Georgia

Bebris Castle

Bebris Tsikhe (The Elder"s Fortress) is located further up the main road from Samtavro. The ruins are fun, if a bit dangerous, to climb on for views overlooking Mtskheta and the valley formed around the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Narikala Castle

Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura River. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. Newly built in 1996–1997, it replaces the original 13th-century church that was destroyed in a fire. The new church is of &a ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Surami Castle

Strategically located at the entrance into the Borjomi Gorge and guarding the road from eastern to western Georgia, Surami town became a heavily fortified town in the 12th century. From the 1170s to the latter part of the 14th century, the fortress of Surami was a hereditary fief of the dynasty of the eristavs (dukes) of Kartli. Subsequently, Surami declined but retained its lively trading post as well as the fortre ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Surami, Georgia

Tmogvi Castle Ruins

Tmogvi is a ruined castle on the left bank of the Kura River, a few kilometers downstream of the cave city of Vardzia. It is first mentioned in sources from the 9th century. It was built as a defensive work controlling the ancient trade route between the Javakheti plateau and the gorge of Kura, over a gorge formed by the Kura River. It was a crucial military stronghold in the region of Javakheti. The feudal lords of ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Tmogvi, Georgia

Tsikhisdziri

Tsikhisdziri is home to an archaeological site and ruins of a Late Antique fortified town, which is identified with the Roman-built city-fortress of Petra. Petra, founded at the behest of the emperor Justinian I in 535 and, after a series of battles for the possession of that city during the Lazic War with Sasanid Iran, was demolished by the Romans themselves to prevent it again becoming the enemy"s target ...
Founded: 535 AD | Location: Kobuleti, Georgia

Dmanisi Castle and Church

The town of Dmanisi is first mentioned in the 9th century as a possession of the Arab emirate of Tbilisi, though the area had been settled since the Early Bronze Age. An Orthodox Christian cathedral ('Dmanisi Sioni') was built there in the 6th century. Located on the confluence of trading routes and cultural influences, Dmanisi was of particular importance, growing into a major commercial center of medieval ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Georgia, Georgia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.