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 Georgia.
The site includes an inner castle, secular buildings, shrines and a secret tunnel. Also on this site you can see ruins and fundaments of dwellings, mosque with minaret, madrasa, bathhouses, oil house, pottery, and other workshops, wine cellars, paved roads, etc. It was a big fun for us to explore numerous semi-underground structures with holes in vaults and reservoirs for collecting rainwater with well-preserved elements of pipes and bathes.
The walls and vaults of Dmanisi Sioni three-aisled basilica, constructed from rough stones, remember a lot of rebuilds. Time has made its 13th century frescoes pale, and faces on them are almost indiscernible. In 13th century the church also was updated by narthex, which looks completely atypically for Georgian architecture, but is very similar to Armenian gavits – there is less the 15 km to the border of Armenia. And the khachkar (carved, memorial stele bearing a cross) on its frontone completes the picture. The narthex with its ornaments and manuscripts and with tombstones on the floor looks really gorgeous.
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.