Medieval castles in 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Klis Fortress

From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.

Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.

In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.

Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.