Top historic sites 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

Gonio Castle

Gonio fortress (previously called Apsaros, or Apsaruntos), is a Roman fortification in Adjara, at the mouth of the Chorokhi river. The oldest reference to the fortress is by Pliny the Elder in the Natural History (1st century AD). There is also a reference to the ancient name of the site in Appian’s Mithridatic Wars (2nd century AD). In the 2nd century AD it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Adjara, 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

Uplistsikhe

Uplistsikhe is an ancient rock-hewn town in eastern Georgia, some 10 kilometers east of the town of Gori. Built on a high rocky left bank of the Mtkvari River, it contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatoliaand Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architectu ...
Founded: 6th century BCE | Location: Uplistsikhe, Georgia

Ateni Sioni Church

The Ateni Sioni Church is an early 7th-century Georgian Orthodox church in the village of Ateni, some 10 km south of the city of Gori, Georgia. It stands in a setting of the Tana River valley known not only for its historical monuments but also for its picturesque landscapes and wine. The name 'Sioni' derives from Mount Zion at Jerusalem. Sioni is an early example of a 'four-apse church with four ...
Founded: 7th century AD | Location: Ateni, 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

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral

The Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is an Eastern Orthodox cathedral located in the historic town of Mtskheta, A masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, Svetitskhoveli is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is currently the second largest church building in Georgia. History The original church was built in 4th century A.D. during the reign of Mirian III of Kartli. According to Georgian hagiography, ...
Founded: 1010-1029 | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Samtavro Monastery

Samtavro Transfiguration Orthodox Church and Nunnery of St. Nino in Mtskheta, Georgia, were built in the 4th century by King Mirian III of Iberia. The church was reconstructed in the 11th century by King George I and Catholicos-Patriarch Melkisedek. The famous Georgian Saint monk Gabriel is buried in the yard of Samtavro Church. Samtavro is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historical Monuments of Mts ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mtskheta, Georgia

Jvari Monastery

Jvari is a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It stands on the rocky mountaintop at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers, overlooking the town of Mtskheta. According to traditional accounts, on this location in the early 4th century Saint Nino, a female evangelist credited with co ...
Founded: 590-605 AD | 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

Vardzia Cave Monastery

Vardzia is a cave monastery site excavated from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain on the left bank of the Kura River. The caves stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. Vardzia was inhabited during the Bronze Age and indicated the reach of Trialeti culture. Four distinct building phases have been identified at Vardzia. The first was during the reign of Giorgi III (1156-1 ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tmogvi, Georgia

Gelati Monastery

Gelati is a medieval monastic complex near Kutaisi. A masterpiece of the Georgian Golden Age, Gelati is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The Gelati Monastery was built in 1106 by King David IV of Georgia. It was constructed during the Byzantine empire, during which christianity was the ruling religion throughout the empire. The main church was completed in 1130 in the reign of his son and successor ...
Founded: 1106 | Location: Kutaisi, Georgia

Chazhashi

The village of Chazhashi in Ushguli community, situated at the confluence of the lnguri and Black Rivers, has preserved more than 200 medieval tower houses, churches and castles. The land use and settlement structure reveal the continued dwelling and building traditions of local Svan people living in harmony with the surrounding natural environment. The origins of Svaneti tower houses go back to prehistory. Its features ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Chazhashi, Georgia

Alaverdi Monastery

Alaverdi Monastery is a Georgian Eastern Orthodox monastery located 25 km from Akhmeta. While parts of the monastery date back to 6th century, the present day cathedral was built in the 11th century by Kvirike III of Kakheti, replacing an older church of St. George. The monastery was founded by the Assyrian monk Joseph Alaverdeli, who came from Antioch and settled in Alaverdi, then a small village and former paga ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Akhmeta, Georgia

David Gareja Monastery

David Gareja is a rock-hewn Georgian Orthodox monastery complex located on the half-desert slopes of Mount Gareja. The complex includes hundreds of cells, churches, chapels, refectories and living quarters hollowed out of the rock face. Part of the complex is located in the Agstafa rayon of Azerbaijan and has become subject to a border dispute between Georgia and Azerbaijan. The area is also home to protected anim ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Rustavi, Georgia

Art Museum of Georgia

The Art Museum of Georgia (AMG) is one of the leading museums in the country of Georgia. It has around 140,000 items of Georgian, Oriental, Russian, and other European art. A predecessor of the present-day museum, the National Art Gallery, was opened through the efforts of Western-educated young Georgian artists in Tbilisi in 1920. Out of it grew the Central Museum of Fine Arts, which was opened in Tbilisi in August ...
Founded: 1920 | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Samtavisi Cathedral

Samtavisi is an eleventh-century Georgian Orthodox cathedral 45km from Tbilisi. According to a Georgian tradition, the first monastery on this place was founded by the Assyrian missionary Isidore in 572 and later rebuilt in the 10th century. Neither of these buildings has survived however. The earliest extant structures date to the eleventh century, the main edifice being built in 1030 as revealed by a now lost stone ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Samtavisi, Georgia

Holy Trinity Cathedral

The Holy Trinity Cathedral (known as Sameba) is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church located in Tbilisi. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the third-tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the world and one of the largest religious buildings in the world by total area. Sameba is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has s ...
Founded: 1995-2004 | Location: Tbilisi, Georgia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.