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Gori

Country
Georgia
State
Georgia (General)
City
Gori
Type of Location
Multiple
About Location

Gori is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the homonymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora , that is, "heap", or "hill". As of 2002, it had a population of 49,500.
Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages and maintains a strategic importance due to its location on the principal highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia. In the course of its history, Gori has been invaded by the armies of regional powers several times. The city was occupied by Russian troops during the 2008 South Ossetian War.
 



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How to Reach

By air

The nearest airport is Tbilisi International Airport (IATA: TBS) (ICAO: UGTB). A new, modern terminal was inaugurated on February 7, 2007. George W. Bush Avenue leads from the airport to downtown Tbilisi

By road

Many marshrutkas run daily between Tbilisi's Didube market and the central square of Gori. A more expensive, yet still reasonable option, is to hire a taxi.

Key places to visit
Stalin Museum, The Stalin Cult, Uplistsikhe, Goris Tsikhe (Gori Castle), Gori Jvari (Gori Cross)


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Places to Visit

Stalin Museum

The Stalin Museum is the highlight of a visit to the city of Gori. Behind its faux-Venetian facade is an impressive museum filled with paraphernalia and media documenting the life and careers of I.V. Jughashvili. The museum's portrayal of Stalin is one-sidedly nostalgic, which can be jarring for visitors, but the exhibits are actually quite well done and there are ample Georgian babushkas throughout the museum who will be more than happy to elaborate on the exhibits and answer questions. Unfortunately, the exhibits are overwhelmingly in Russian and Georgian, to the disadvantage of most Western visitors. But the main show requires no language—Stalin's death mask. Stalin's bronze death mask is not so exciting in and of itself, but the lighting and bizarre, personality cult-chic, red velvet display will surely elicit goose bumps. At the ticket office, ask about an English or German-speaking guide. They are sometimes available and will often show you the inside of Stalin's home and train car.

The Stalin Cult

Unlike the majority of Georgia, Gori is full of people who still revere their home-town boy who made such an indelible mark on human history. The principal attractions (as well as the principal revenue earners) within the city are monuments to Stalin and they are all located on or nearby the main square along Stalin Ave.

Uplistsikhe

Uplistsikhe is easily one of the oldest existing cities in Georgia, although it is now uninhabited save tourists. Founded in the sixteenth century BC and carved out of rock, this was a bustling city over 3000 years ago and was, before the introduction of Christianity in the fourth century, a major regional center of Caucasian pagan worship. After Saint Nino converted King Mirian II of Iberia, the pagan temples of Uplistsikhe were sacked and the city went into long-term decline. Its decline was hastened by devastation at the hands of the Mongols in the 12th century, although it remained inhabited, serving as a stop along the Silk Road until the 15th century.
Highlights not to be missed include: a Hellenistic amphitheater overlooking the Mtkvari river where residents of Uplistsikhe once enjoyed Greek-style performances, a functioning 9th century church built atop the ruins of an ancient pagan temple to the Caucasian sun god, a once pillared seat of kings, and a fun cave tunnel leading out of the city to the riverside. Also be sure to note the round storage spaces once used for wheat and the shelf-like spaces for medicinal herbs—a veritable bronze age pharmacy!

Goris Tsikhe (Gori Castle)

Goris Tsikhe stands at the heart of the city atop a large hill and is the only structure in town that could dwarf the Stalin statue. According to locals, Goris Tsikhe's most notable moment in world history occurred in the first century BC, when it was conquered by the Roman General Pompeii. The current ruins are more recent, however, having been built after the Mongol invasion. There is not much to see inside the ruined castle's walls, but there are nice views of the city and the surrounding dark green plains of Shida Kartli. The approach to the ruins was recently repaved and the surrounding area cleaned up, but the site remains free and the only price of admission is the short, steep walk up the path.

Gori Jvari (Gori Cross)

The church at Gori Jvari stands on a outcropping of rocks and can be seen from practically anywhere in Gori. Originally built in the 12th century, it was burned down by the Turks, rebuilt, and destroyed again by an earthquake in 1920. The current church was built in the 1980s. On days commemorating St. George (November 23 and April 23), Gori residents flock to the church with sacrificial sheep. The sheep are walked around the church three times, and in accordance with Orthodox tradition, are taken just off the church grounds for slaughter. On a clear day, the view of the Caucasus from the church is spectacular.

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