The construction of the palace began during the reign of King Archil II in the 17th century. The court church, the eastern walls, and the baths were built during his lifetime.
In later years, the palace was rebuilt many times, with each king changing it to match his taste.
In the second half of the 18th century, King Erekle II finished its construction by transforming it into what was almost a citadel, building a five-metre-high wall and a church with a defensive function. He also ordered the construction of a 14-metre-high bulwark, on which he had eight-metre-long cannons placed. There was also an area specially set aside in the royal palace for the population to take shelter during times of war.
King Erekle’s desire to transform the palace into a fortress was completely logical, as there was the constant threat of invasion at that time.
It is important to remember that you cannot enter the palace without first bowing your head, as royal court etiquette required all petitioners to bow before the king.
Inside the palace museum, where the minimalistic royal furniture, personal objects of the royal family, and many historical relics are kept, your attention will first be captured by the simplicity of the place. In general, there has never been luxury in the palaces of Georgian kings. Instead, they dedicated their attentions to church architecture and richly decorating those churches.
King Erekle II received ambassadors in the main hall of the palace. The small rooms were where the royal family members lived.
It was in one of those small rooms that King of Kartli and Kakheti Erekle II – the most famous Georgian king in Europe and the favourite leader of the Georgian people – was born in 1762 and died in 1798.