©istock/vvvita
©istock/vvvita

Uplistsikhe – the oldest cave town in Georgia

2 minutes to read

There are three major biggest cave towns in Georgia: Uplistsikhe, Vardzia, and David Gareja. From these towns, Uplistsikhe is the oldest one. Its name literally means “the lord’s fortress.” It is one of the monuments of ancient times, which offers a unique experience to the visitor.

©istock/OlyaSolodenko
©istock/OlyaSolodenko

This ancient city is very interesting with its streets, squares and water reservoirs. It has four gates and a secret tunnel, which goes down to the Mtkvari River. It is estimated that there were more than 700 buildings at the time it was built, but only around 270 have survived today.

The legend behind Uplistsikhe

According to a legend, the city was built by the slaves. They were given special golden axes, which were covered with iron. Therefore, slaves had to work as much as they could in order to destroy the pure metal on the surface of the axes. Only after that, they could get this gold as a reward and, of course, their freedom. Some parts of the buildings date back to I and II millennium BC. During the Middle Ages, Uplistsikhe was a very prosperous city.

©istock/ninochka
©istock/ninochka

An unusual prison

The city consists of 3 districts. The central district is the biggest one in size. There, you could find a prison. However, it was an unusual prison. There were 80 meters deep holes, specially made in a way that the prisoners could only stand there. The prison was located in the center so that everybody could see them suffering and thus refrain from committing a crime.

©istock/ShirmanovAleksey
©istock/ShirmanovAleksey

A first-millennium theater

Special attention goes to the theatre (Theatron), which dates back to II-III centuries AC. The ceiling is decorated with sophisticated ornaments; the stage is located in the center. Tamar Hall is another very interesting place for tourists,  named after the King Tamar. It belongs to ancient times as well. The hall was intended to be used for some idol ceremonies.

©istock/Gulukhia
©istock/Gulukhia

Tradition related to the church

There is also an old church in the central district. Near the church, you will see very old pitchers(Qvevri.) There was a tradition: when a child was born in the family, they filled the pitcher with wine and kept it until he would become 16 years old. After that, they would give this Qvevri full of wine to this church as a gift to God.

©istock//ninochka
©istock//ninochka

Even today, many mysteries of Uplistsikhe are not fully uncovered. That is why Georgians consider it as a mystical city.

From 2007, Uplistsikhe is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Uplistsikhe
Uplistsikhe
Géorgie

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The author

Anano Chikhradze

Anano Chikhradze

I am Anano. I Iove travelling, history and getting to know people from all over the world. I write about Georgia, my country, and I am sure everybody will fall in love with it.

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