Batonistsikhe - Fortress of Kakhetian Kings

Batonistsikhe - Fortress of Kakhetian Kings

There are countless ancient churches and fortresses throughout Georgia, but one thing you won’t find are palaces. The royal palaces in Tbilisi were razed to the ground by the King of Iran, Agha Mohammed Khan, in 1795. Batonistsikhe, erected in the center of Telavi, is the only royal palace currently remaining in Georgia.

The History and Location of Batonistsikhe

Batonistsikhe is one of the most important monuments of secular Georgian architecture from the late feudal period. Located in Telavi, this fortress was once the residence of the kings of Kakheti in the 17th and 18th centuries. A five-meter-high wall with battlements surrounds the fortress to provide protection for the kings’ palace, the churches of the royal court, the royal bath, the secret tunnel, and the seminary building.

This residence was built in two stages. During King Archil’s reign in the 17th century, the kings’ palace, the eastern gate, and the bath were constructed. In the 18th century, during the reign of Heraclius (Erekle) II, the court church was built, along with the western gate and the aforementioned wall, which transformed the area into a citadel.

To the northwest of Batoni Church is a tunnel covered with mortared stone, which connected the buildings here to a secret exit.

During times of peace, Batonistsikhe was used as a reception area for foreign diplomats and as the political center of the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti.

Batonistsikhe Today

There is a museum detailing the history of the kings of Kakheti, where items of the royal family, an extremely rich coin collection, and many historical relics are all preserved.

Across from the palace stands another important sight in Telavi – the 900-year-old Giant Plane Tree, which is 40 meters tall and has a circumference of 11.4 meters. This grand tree is a true witness to Georgia’s history!

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