Gori is the administrative capital of the Shida Kartli region and lies about 80 kilometers west of Tbilisi. Many of the 50,000 people who live in Gori live in buildings from the Soviet Era, as a 1920 earthquake destroyed all of the older buildings. If Soviet era architecture interests you, Gori has you covered!
At the heart of Gori, atop a rocky hill, stands the 13th-century Gori Fortress. In addition to its immense historical value, the fortress is also a popular viewpoint from which to gaze out at the city of Gori and the Caucasus Mountains that surround it.
Below the fortress, you’ll also find a sculpture depicting a number of knights seated across from one another. The sculpture was carved in 2010 as a reminder about the temporarily lost territories of Georgia: Apkhazeti (today known as Abkhazia) and Samachablo (South Ossetia). These two territories were occupied by Russian forces in the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.
In addition to Uplistsikhe and Gori Fortress, the Stalin Museum is a particularly popular landmark, located in a massive building at the heart of the city. It contains more than 60,000 other historic objects from the infamous Soviet leader’s lifetime in its spacious halls, and also has such exhibits as Stalin’s armored railway carriage and the little house where he spent the first years of his life.
Gori Museum of History and Ethnography is another popular sight of the city. Located in the center of the city, it preserves fascinating archaeology collections starting from IV-III millennium BCE.
For those looking for a more uplifting experience, Gori’s Modern Architecture Institute offers a hopeful look into the present-day and future Georgia, or you can pay a visit to the Culture & Relaxation Park to soak in the city’s natural beauty.
Interested in ancient churches? Gori has something interesting for you again! The 12th-century Gorisjvari church is just four kilometers from the center of Gori. Alongside the 7th-century Ateni Sioni Church, this impressive place of worship is the main gathering place for the local Orthodox worshippers.
If you are looking for stories from a more distant past, undertake a half-hour drive from Gori towards Uplistsikhe (God’s Fortress), an important town carved into the cliffside 3,000 years ago. It was the main cult center of Iberia (Eastern Georgian Kingdom). It is a unique, multi-story city which became a pagan fortress after Georgia officially became a Christian nation. Like Petra and Vardzia, this imposing cliff dwelling stands as a testament to the ingenuity and persistence of humankind.
Gori and its surroundings are a fascinating blend of old and new. While many come to learn more about Stalin, most leave enchanted by this lovely city.