The history of the fortress begins in the 9th century, when it was known as Lomsia. It was later destroyed during the wars of the 11th century, prompting the local feudal lord, Beshken II Jakeli, to begin reconstructing it at the order of King David Aghmashenebeli in the 12th century. The Georgian word for “new fortress” is akhali tsikhe, which is where the fortification and the town around it both get their name.
The upper portion of the fortress is where visitors will find the Samtskhe-Javakheti Historical Museum. There is also a 9th-century Orthodox church, a mosque, a madrasa, the Pasha’s resting quarters, a citadel, a dungeon, and an ampitheatre. It is easy to see what a multicultural place this was!
These days, the lower portion of the fortress is dominated by amenities to ensure the comfort of guests, including hotels, cafes, restaurants serving a wide variety of Georgian and European foods, a wine cellar, souvenir stores, and even a wedding hall. You’ll also find a tourist information centre here as well.
So, if you’ve seen your share of ruins and want to see what they might have looked like in their prime, pay a visit to historic Akhaltsikhe Fortress!