Gremi Castle

Gremi, Georgia

Gremi is a 16th-century site of royal citadel and the Church of the Archangels. The complex is what has survived from the once flourishing town of Gremi.

Gremi was the capital of the Kingdom of Kakheti in the 16th and 17th centuries. Founded by Levan of Kakheti, it functioned as a lively trading town on the Silk Road and royal residence until being razed to the ground by the armies of Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1615. The town never regained its past prosperity and the kings of Kakheti transferred their capital to Telavi in the mid-17th century. There was big Armenian population.

The town appears to have occupied the area of approximately 40 hectares and to have been composed of three principal parts – the Archangels’ Church complex, the royal residence and the commercial neighborhood. Systematic archaeological studies of the area were carried out in 1939-1949 and 1963-1967, respectively. Since 2007, the monuments of Gremi have been proposed for inclusion into the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The Archangels’ Church complex is located on a hill and composed of the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel itself, a three-story castle, a bell tower and a wine cellar (marani). It is encircled by a wall secured by embrasures, turrets and towers. Remains of the secret tunnel leading to the Ints’obi River have also survived.

The Church of the Archangels was constructed at the behest of King Levan of Kakheti (r. 1520–1574) in 1565 and frescoed by 1577. It is a cruciform domed church built chiefly of stone. Its design marries traditional Georgian masonry with a local interpretation of the contemporary Iranian architectural taste. The building has three entrances, one facing west, one facing to the south, and the third facing to the north. The interior is crowned with a dome supported by the corners of the sanctuary and two basic piers. The façade is divided into three arched sections. The dome sits on an arcaded drum which is punctured by eight windows.

The bell-tower also houses a museum where several archaeological artifacts and the 16th-century cannon are displayed. The walls are adorned with a series of portraits of the kings of Kakheti by the modern Georgian painter Levan Chogoshvili (1985).



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Founded: 16th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Georgia

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User Reviews

Koen (6 months ago)
West of Eniseli, the fortress of Gremi towers above the confluence of the Bolia and Intsoba rivers. Between 1466 and 1672 Gremi was the capital of Kakhetia, and although Persian Shah Abbas I razed the city, an important trading center, to the ground in 1616, the fortress survived. Behind the high 16th century Archangel Church is a knight's hall with an adjacent keep (both from the 15th century). From the tower you have a wide view of the Alazani Valley. Small, but definitely worth a visit!
Liz Warrilow (7 months ago)
The church stands impressively on a hill. You can visit the Chapel for nothing. For 10 Gel you can go inside the castle. There are very steep steps up to a small lookout, fortunately an excellent hand rail is in place. Best overview of the site is on the approach road from Telavi.
Kakha Khmelidze (10 months ago)
Finally I visited Gremi, finally I visited this legendary place, finally we visited this incomparable complex and we were lucky to look from the high tower there at the unique beauty and charm of the surroundings. There is a big story here. This is the first royal residence in the history of the Kakhetian Kingdom. Unfortunately, this luxurious and developed place was completely destroyed by disgusting enemies and their sadistic hordes, leveled it to the ground. This place, this people of ours, never deserved it in any way. We must always remember this. Visit this unique place. There is little left of those tragic days, but still something has been preserved. Some of the preserved artifacts are stored in the nearby open museum. Visit this museum too.
Hans (10 months ago)
The castle and church are nice and a magnificent view. The museum should take off the sign Museum. It is embarrassing to see a few paintings with some description but fully without any context. My Travel Guide knew 1000% more. A big chance for a proper museum archivaris...
KF Ristroph (11 months ago)
The attached museum was nicely done, with details about the kings and queens in Kakheti from the 1500's onwards. It cost 10 GEL per person. Buying the museum ticket gives you access to climb up into the towers for great views.
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