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 medieval period. The first surviving written records of it date back to the reign of Vakhtang the Wolf Head during the fifth century. At that time Khornabuji was one of the largest settlements in the Kakheti region. According to the chronicle it was one of several places to which Vakhtang appointed a bishop after he had built the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral at Mtskheta.

Late in the fifth or early during the sixth century Khornabuji was conquered by the Sasanians. It appears the surrounding town was destroyed, though something of the castle survived and over the following centuries the town again appeared on the area of flat ground to the south of the castle rock. During the thirteenth century, according to some sources, the castle was rebuilt on the instructions of Queen Tamara, although others suggest that references to Queen Tamara building a castle may have referred to a castle built at another site. According to one interpretation of the sources the Khornabuji township was destroyed by Mongul invadersunder Berke Khan around 1264, and survivors relocated to Sighnaghi, after which there was no further significant settlement outside the castle walls. An alternative view is that it was during the seventeenth century the settlement fell into ruin following the invasion undertaken from Iran by Shāh Abbās. The castle was later rebuilt under Heraclius II of Kartli-Kakheti, but the surrounding township was not rebuilt.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Georgia

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