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Akhaltsikhe
Georgian: ახალციხე
Armenian: Ախալցխա
Akhaltsikhe Georgian: ახალციხეArmenian: Ախալցխա is located in Georgia (country)
Akhaltsikhe
Georgian: ახალციხე
Armenian: Ախալցխա
Location of Akhaltsikhe in Georgia
Coordinates: 41°38′20″N 42°59′10″E / 41.63889°N 42.98611°E / 41.63889; 42.98611
Country  Georgia
Mkhare Samtskhe-Javakheti
Population (2002)
 - Total 46,134
Time zone Georgian Time (UTC+4)

Akhaltsikhe (Georgian: ახალციხე, literally new castle; also known as Lomsia, Armenian: Ախալցխա) is a small city in southwestern Georgia, Mkhare (Province) of Samtskhe-Javakheti with a population of 46,134. It is situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the north and new in the south. The name of the city translates from Georgian as "new fortress".

Contents

History

Akhaltsikhe c. 1887

The city is first mentioned in the chronicles in the 12th century. In the 12th - 13th centuries it was the seat of the Akhaltsikhelis, dukes of Samtskhe, whose two most illustrious representatives were Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheli (of Akhaltsikhe). From the 13th up to the 17th century the city and Samtkhe were governed by the feudal family of the Jakelis. In 1576 the Ottomans took it and from 1628 the city became the centre of Akhaltsikhe (Turkish: Ahıska) Province of Ottoman Empire. In 1828, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829, Russian troops under the command of General Paskevich captured the city and, as a consequence of the 1829 Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), it was ceded to the Russian Empire as part of first Kutaisi and then Tbilisi governorates. In the old part of the city one can see an old fortress, castle and mosque, the old fortress of the Jakelis (13th-14th century), and St. Marine's Church. The hills nearby the city harbour the Sapara Monastery (10th - 14th centuries).

The castle

In the late 1980s the city was host to the Soviet Army's 10th Guards Motor Rifle Division, which became a brigade of the Georgian land forces after the fall of the Soviet Union.

International relations

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Twin towns — Sister cities

Akhaltsikhe is twinned with:

See also

External links

Coordinates: 41°38′20″N 42°59′10″E / 41.63889°N 42.98611°E / 41.63889; 42.98611


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

The mosque inside Akhaltsikhe Castle, Old City
The mosque inside Akhaltsikhe Castle, Old City

Akhaltsikhe (Georgian: ახალციხე, "New Fortress") is a small city of about 50,000 and the capital of Samtskhe-Javakheti. The city has been around for at least 800 years, and was a regional administrative center for the Ottomans from the sixteenth century up to the Russo-Turkish War. Until the twentieth century Akhaltsikhe was majority Armenian, but today, unlike most of the province, it is majority Georgian. It's a rather sleepy town, but its Old City is worth a visit, and it's a great base for exploring the surrounding areas, including Sapara Monastery and Khertvisi Fortress in the immediate vicinity.


Sapara Monastery's cupola
Sapara Monastery's cupola

By car/marshrutka

The principal route to Akhaltsikhe runs from Georgia's main East-West highway (E60) at the spur in Khashuri leading to Borjomi. Marshrutkas run to Akhaltsikhe's main market/bus station from Tbilisi's Didube market, as well as from the bus stations in Kutaisi and Khashuri. Coming from Kutaisi or Tbilisi, it's best to catch your ride early in the morning if you want to avoid finding another marshrutka upon arrival in Khashuri. But it's not terribly difficult to catch a marshrutka going between Akhaltsikhe and Khashuri before dinner time.

By train

Akhaltsikhe is connected to the main Batumi–Tbilisi–Baku railroad by a spur through Borjomi ending in Akhaltsikhe itself. You should be able to find a train going this way once daily from the Batumi, Kutaisi, and Tbilisi train stations.

Sapara Monastery, hidden in the mountain forests
Sapara Monastery, hidden in the mountain forests
  • Akhaltsikhe Castle
  • St. Marine's Church
  • Sapara Monastery (საფარის მონასტერი) is about 10-12 km outside of Akhaltsikhe up into the mountains. The monastery was established in the tenth century, but the principal church, St. Sabas, was built sometime in the thirteenth century. Until the twentieth century, the monastery had been perfectly preserved, as its hidden location saved it from Ottoman discovery throughout the empire's three-century long control of southwestern Georgia. Alas, the Soviets found it, and abused it in the usual soulless fashion, albeit not to the same extent as many other Georgian Orthodox establishments—the frescoed walls were not whitewashed, and remain in good condition (especially following a recent restoration). During a visit, make sure to climb up the nearby slopes towards a rocky outcropping to get lovely views over the monastery and the valleys in the distance. Also make sure not to use flash photography in the churches, unless you want to see some seriously angry monks. If you can make yourself understood, you can overnight in the monastery's chambers.
The walls of Khertvisi Fortress
The walls of Khertvisi Fortress
  • Khertvisi Fortress (ხერთვისის ციხე) looms over the village of Khertvisi. The outcrop was used as a fortress from the second century B.C., and was reputedly destroyed by Alexander the Great. The "modern" fortress, however, was built around the thirteenth-fourteenth centuries, and saw fighting during the Ottoman invasion (and subsequent occupation) in the sixteenth century. The walls on the far side drop down a sheer cliff to the Mtkvari far below, so if you fancy a bout of vertigo, pull yourself up and look straight down.
View of Khertvisi from the fortress
View of Khertvisi from the fortress
  • Vardzia — the cliffside cave monastery, former city, and UNESCO World Heritage site is the biggest reason to visit Akhaltsikhe, and the region more generally
  • Akhalkalaki — the center of Armenian culture in Georgia is nearby to the southwest, easily accessible via marshrutka from Akhaltsikhe
  • Borjomi — every Soviet traveler's favorite Georgian retreat, for its parks, Romanov palace, and internationally renowned natural mineral water
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