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Silk Road sites
Khertvisi Fortress - ranks among one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia, but the exact date of its construction is not known. The fortress already existed in the 10th c, although there is an evidence of earlier construction work. According to a legend, Queen Tamar held a competition to see who could
build the best tower. From the eastern wall two tunnels lead down to the river, one served as a water supply route, the other for communication. A legend has it that Alexander the Great visited the site during his Eastern Campaign in the 4th century BC.
Narikala fortress or Shuris Tsikhe - the Rival Fortress, is the ancient site of Tbilisi built by Arabs in 4th c. Much of what we see today, dates from 8th c. With its unique strategic location both local rulers and foreign invaders looked to make Narikala their headquarters.
The Shakhtakhti Tower was built as an observatory. Archaelogical research in 1967 revealed that there was a twelfth century church inside the Narikala complex. The church was rebuilt in 1996 and designed in keeping with the fortress surrounding it. The interior is decorated with frescoes, depicting both biblical scenes and the history of Georgia.
Sighnaghi - a Royal town surrounded by the defensive walls with 23 towers. Each of these towers were named after nearby villages and respective families and served as a refuge in case of danger.
These unique walls were built by King Herecle II to protect the area from incursions by Lezgins from north Caucasus. The town was mainly inhabited by merchants and artisans. It had many gates through which numerous Silk Road travellers from Asia and Europe passed on their way.
Uplistsikhe - meaning "The Fortress of God" is an ancient cave town from the 1st half of the 1st millennium BC. situated on the crossroads of important trade routs. It was the main centre of paganism, and represents a complex of halls, caves, theatres, altars, pagan temples, secret tunnels, prisons, pharmacy, passages-streets all carved out of stone
over an area of 4 hectares. At its peak of prosperity, the city had a population of 20 000. In 9th -10th cc AD a three-nave basilica was added to the complex.
Vardzia a rock-hewn complex on the left bank of the river Mtkvari was founded in the 12th -13th cc. during the reign of Giorgi III and Queen Tamar. Initially planned as a town-fortress, the complex became a well fortified monastery, which had a significant role in political, cultural, educational
and spiritual life of the country. Its nineteen tiers extend from east to west, the dwellings were hewn and tunnels hollowed out into the cliff from south to north. There are two-room, three-room and four-room cliff dwellings in Vardzia, including two-storey ones; galleries and vertical tunnels, secret passes and a pharmacy. In the middle of the complex there is a Church of Assumption, richly decorated with mural painting. Behind the church there is a pool which served as a spring water reservoir, and was considered holy.
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