Ananuri, Mitskheta-Mtianeti

I’ve done my research about Georgia back in GTMO and one of the places that caught my eye was the Ananuri Fortress. It stands grand by a majestic lake, and I thought it was beautiful. So after exploring some areas outside of Tbilisi Goriddsfsdf took us to this destination. We passed by a reservoir and like most of this kind, it was picturesque. We went down to take pictures and coincidentally there were other  middle eastern tourists who also stopped and they took pictures and pictures with us. As we take the shots here is a brief history of the place.

Zhinvali Dam

“A hydroelectric dam on the Aragvi River in the Caucasus Mountains in Zhinvali, Georgia. The Zhinvali Hydroelectric Power Plant has two turbines with a nominal capacity of 65 MW each having a total capacity of 130 MW. The building of the dam in 1986 formed the Zhinvali Reservoir.”

The Dam with the people and Gora

After that we moved on heading north to the fortress. We passed by other smaller villages and then we crossed the bridge of the Arkala River and I saw the steeples of the building. I was disappointed because it was not same as the one on googled images. The trees were not lushful (maybe because of the season), the surroundings looked like an abandoned place, and there were structures that don’t blend well in the area. Also, the water on the lake was almost empty. We drove to the grounds and saw stalls in front. Zea and I walked inside the castle. Here is a background of the place.

History of the Ananuri Castle

There are no records when exactly this stronghold was built, but many archaeological excavations carried out there have shown that by the 13th or 14th century a hillfort which was a barrier to the enemy in the Vedzathevi gorge already existed on the left side of the Aragvi. The first written records of Ananuri, where the dangerous Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi who ruled over these lands lived, cannot be found until the 17th c. At that time the complex of buildings was much richer; the Castle has survived to the present day, but it is only the upper part of the former Ananuri stronghold.

Ananuri Fortress

Dusheti was the capital of the Aragvian duchy, while the main road leading to the duchy was protected by Ananuri, a fortified castle. The place for this castle was chosen perfectly: situated in a narrow gorge, at the confluence of the Vedzathevi and the Aragvi, Ananuri could guard the main part of the dukedom as well as protect the retreat road for the residents of the Aragvi valley. During the first half of the 18th c. the serrated walls of this fortress became a shelter to the royal family and the King of Kakheti as his army cringed against the superior strength of the Lezgic forces.”

We went to the side the took pictures of almost everything. I was still amazed being in here despite the disappointment. I even took pictures of the abandoned buildings around. We entered the inner courtyard and we came across a stray dog. It looked like a golden retriever and it came to me and I pet it.

The castle incorporated a circuit wall with turrets, a porch, a Church of Virgin, a minor Church of Gvtaeba, a tower with a stepped pyramidal roof of Svanetian type, a single-nave Church Mkurnali, tower Sheupovari, a bell-tower, a spring and a reservoir. In the Church of the Virgin were buried some of the Eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi.

Such a gentle creature, then we went in to the main church. The Church of the Assumption, built in 1689, has richly decorated facades with the fine relief carvings featuring human, animal and floral images, including a carved north entrance. It was quiet and solemn, A gold shrine, with paintings of saints, altars on the side. The priest church on the middle, and some remnants of frescoes on the walls. It was simple. We admired and walked around the area as we do here is the continuation of the history.

“The Georgian duke, historian and geographer Wahuszti Bagrationi mentions this event which took place in 1723 in his letters. The ruler of Kakheti, Teimuraz II, his wife Tamar and little son – later King Erekle II, stayed in Ananuri for over a year, and the Lezgins failed to conquer the well-fortified castle. Later, Teimuraz’s elder brother, the King of Kakheti Constantine II, rewarded the Aragvian dukes with black ungratefulness by taking Ananuri’s cannons to defend his residence in Telavi.

Houses around the fortress

In 1739 Ananuri again witnessed a tragic event which was recorded in the chronicles of that period. A conflict arose between two major Georgian liege lords: the dynasty of the Eristavis of Aragvi and a representative of this dynasty from Kasani. The cause of the conflict was a long-standing animosity. Because of personal grudges, the Kasanian representative of the Eristavis who wanted to avenge his own brother’s family, attacked Ananuri with his army and Lezgic mercenaries. A long-lasting siege did not give any results, it was only the destruction of the water supply system that forced Ananuri’s defenders to negotiate a surrender of the fortress. The victors promised the Aragvian fighters mercy, but they did not keep their word: they destroyed and desecrated the churches, enslaved the prisoners, killed many soldiers, and burnt the son of the Aragvian duke of the Eristavi dynasty who barricaded himself in the tower alive.

The tower and tunnel to the other side of the bastion

In 1743 the Georgian dukes of the Eristavi dynasty were ousted from power and the king came into ownership of the Castle. In 1795 the stronghold became a shelter to the residents of Tbilisi and very aged King Erekle II who escaped from a massacre made by the Persian forces in the capital of Georgia. In the early 19th c., after an agreement to unify Georgia and Russia was signed, a garrison of Russian forces was deployed in Ananuri. Its task was to protect the people and the Georgian Military Road running through the main Caucasian ridge. Some time later, the forces left the neglected castle and moved to a newly-established camp, somewhere else. It was not until the 1930s that Ananuri aroused interest – when a large archaeological survey and excavations began in the city. Today Ananuri is often visited by tourists stopping here on their way to Kazbegi or the Cross Pass.”

Mural inside the church

We went out again and walked around the walls, and visited some bastion and towers which some were left to ruins and dangerous to venture in. We went towards the lake and on the large grounds inside we saw a small stair leading down. There were a couple of people walking around the fortress so we hurried to find out where it leads and when I came out on the other side it was the reduct, a round tower protecting the fortress. After that I went back, Zea and I went out. We visited the stalls and bought some souvenirs because their prices were reasonable and look unique to us. I bought the horn cup with a holder, and ornamented combs and mirrors. Also, we took some pics on top of the hill with the country’s traditional clothing but didn’t climb the horse since we don’t want to pay. After that we left heading back to the city.

The parking, goods for sale and bridge to the castle

So that was for the history and our visit to Ananuri Fortress and Chapel, an interesting site outside the city. Anyway, as we head back we passed by a tall, strange structure. We passed it before but now I told  godffsfdsf to stop. I went down and walked to the giant monument. Later on I did a bit of research about it so now I wrote what I learned.

Monument of the 300 Aragvians

“The Three Hundred Aragvians is the name by which the Georgian historiography refers to a detachment of the highlanders from the Aragvi valley who fought the last stand at the battle of Krtsanisi, defending Tbilisi against the invading Qajar army in 1795. The Georgian Orthodox Church had the 300 Aragvians and those who fought and died in the battle canonized as martyrs in 2008.

The Monument to the 300 Aragvians

The 300 Aragvians were part of the contingent raised from the highland districts on the Aragvi river which saw action under Prince Royal Vakhtang of Georgia, on the approaches of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, on 11 September 1795. The heavy fighting, unfolding in the fields of Krtsanisi and continuing in the streets of Tbilisi, saw the defeat of the aging and hopelessly outnumbered Georgian king Heraclius II at the hands of the Persian army led by Agha Muhammad Khan, and the sack of the capital. According to the Georgian accounts, the Aragvians had pledged themselves to fight to the death and stayed true to their oath. Most of them were killed, fighting the last stand at Tbilisi and giving Heraclius a means of retreat.”

The monument was created during the Soviet Era A nice new knowledge to learn about the history of Georgia, where you can find unexpected history anywhere. So now dfdgdfg drove us back to the city and visit more sights on Georgia’s capital.

Here are the links for more information:

Say Cheez!

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