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Gori გორი is located in Georgia (country)
Location of Gori in Georgia
Coordinates: 41°58′0″N 44°06′0″E / 41.966667°N 44.1°E / 41.966667; 44.1
Country  Georgia
Mkhare Shida Kartli
Elevation 588 m (1,929 ft)
Population (2002)
 - Total 49,500
Time zone Georgian Time (UTC+4)

Gori (Georgian: გორი) is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the eponymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora (გორა), that is, "heap", or "hill".[1] 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.

Gori is also known as the birthplace of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.


Geography and climate

Gori is located 76 kilometres (47 mi) west of Georgia's capital Tbilisi, at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Greater Liakhvi, 588 metres (1,930 ft) above sea level. The climate is transitional from moderately warm steppe to moderately humid. Summer is usually hot. The average annual temperature is 10.9 °C (51.6 °F), minimal in January (−1.2 °C/30 °F) and maximal in August (22.5 °C/72.5 °F). The maximum precipitation falls in May (76 mm/3.0 in) and minimum in August (34 mm/1.3 in) and January (30 mm/1.2 in).


Gori Fortress as of 1642, by an Italian missionary Cristoforo di Castelli

The territory of Gori has been populated since the early Bronze Age. According to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the town of Gori was founded by King David IV (r. 1089-1125) who settled there the refugees from Armenia. However, the fortress of Gori (Goris-Tsikhe), appears to have been in use already in the 7th century, and archaeological evidence indicates the existence of an urban community in Classical Antiquity. In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus. The Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans back over the Caucasus mountains.

Goris-Tsikhe, the citadel of Gori

With the downfall of the medieval Georgian kingdom, Gori – strategically located at the crossroads of major transit routes – was frequently targeted by foreign invaders, and changed its masters on several occasions. It was first taken and sacked by Uzun Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu in 1477, followed by Tahmasp I of Persia in the mid-16th century. By the end of that century, Gori passed to the Ottomans and became their major outpost in Georgia until being recovered by the Georgians under Simon I of Kartli after heavy fighting in 1599. The town was once again garrisoned by the Persians under Shah Abbas I in 1614.

Following successive occupations by the Ottomans (1723-35) and Persians (1735-40s), Gori returned to the Georgian control under the kings Teimuraz II and Erekle II whose efforts helped to advance economy and culture in the town. Following the Russian annexation of Georgia, Gori was granted the status of a town within the Tiflis Governorate in 1801. It grew in size and population throughout the 19th century, but was destroyed in the 1920 earthquake. An important industrial center in Soviet times, Gori suffered from an economic collapse and the outflow of population during the years of a post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s.

Gori is close to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. It is connected to breakaway South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali via a railroad spur which has been defunct since the early 1990s. In the 2000s, Georgia has increased military infrastructure in and around the city. Thus, the Central Military Hospital was relocated from Tbilisi to Gori and reequipped in October 2006.[2] On January 18, 2008, Georgia’s second NATO-standard military base to accommodate the 1st Infantry Brigade (Georgia) of the Georgian Ground Forces was established at Gori.[3]

2008 conflict

In the 2008 South Ossetian War, the base came under aerial attack by the Russian Air Force from the outset of the conflict, and was abandoned between August 9 and August 12, 2008 due to the lack of effective anti aircraft defences. Residential districts of Gori were also hit by the airstrikes, resulting in the deaths and injures of numerous civilians,[4][5] including foreigners. Human Rights Watch, an international rights group, claimed that Russian forces had deployed controversial and indiscriminately deadly cluster bombs in civilian areas of Georgia. According to HRW experts, Russian aircraft had dropped cluster bombs in the centre of Gori killing 11 civilians and injuring dozens on August 12.[6] Russian military officials denied using cluster munitions, calling the HRW assertion "slanderous".[7] Numerous unexploded "bomblets" were subsequently found by local population and the HRW.[8]

By August 11, the Georgian military and most residents had fled the city, which was then captured and occupied by Russian forces and South Ossetian separatist militia. HRW accused the militia of unleashing a campaign of looting, arson, kidnapping and other attacks against the remaining civilian population.[9] The forces of occupation withdrew from the city on August 22, 2008.[10]


Year 1865 1897 1914 1977 1989 2002
Population 5,100 10,500 25,700 54,100[11] 68,924 49,522[12]


Statue of Stalin outside the Town Hall
Gori train station

Gori and its environs house several notable cultural and historical landmarks. Although for many foreigners Gori is principally known as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, in Georgian historical memory the city has long been associated with its citadel, the Goris-Tsikhe, which is built on a cliffy hill overlooking the central part of the modern city. On another hill stands the 18th century St. George's church of Gorijvari, a popular place of pilgrimage. The ancient rock-hewn town of Uplistsikhe and the 7th century Ateni Sioni Church are located not far from Gori.

Stalin's association with the city is emphasized by the Joseph Stalin Museum in downtown Gori and the Stalin monument in front of the City Hall, one of the few such monuments to survive Khrushchev's de-Stalinization program. The monument was a source of controversy in a newly independent Georgia in the 1990s, but the post-communist government acceded to the Gori citizens’ request and left the statue untouched.[13][14]


  1. ^ E.M. Pospelov, Geograficheskie nazvaniya mira (Moscow, 1998), p. 121.
  2. ^ Georgia Today: "Georgian Armed Forces modernize infrastructure", October 4 2007.
  3. ^ New military base in Gori. Ministry of Defense of Georgia, January 18 2008.
  4. ^ "Russian jets attack Georgian town", BBC News, 9 August 2008
  5. ^ "Georgia conflict: Screams of the injured rise from residential streets", The Telegraph, 10 Aug 2008
  6. ^ "Georgia: Russian Cluster Bombs Kill Civilians. Stop Using Weapon Banned by 107 Nations" Human Rights Watch, August 15, 2008
  7. ^ Russia Today: "Violence in South Ossetia conflict zone is over – Russian military", August 15, 2008
  8. ^ "Georgia: Civilians Killed by Russian Cluster Bomb ‘Duds’. More Attacks Confirmed; Unexploded Ordnance Threatens Many", Human Rights Watch, August 21, 2008
  9. ^ Russia/Georgia: Militias Attack Civilians in Gori Region; Russia Should Curb Militias and Allow in Humanitarian Aid, Human Rights Watch, August 17, 2008
  10. ^ Civil Georgia: "Police Back in Gori", 23 August 2008
  11. ^ (Georgian) Kakabadze, V., Gvasalia, J., Gagoshidze I., Menabde, L., Zakaria, P. (1978), გორი ("Gori"). Georgian Soviet Encyclopedia, vol. 3, p. 226. Tbilisi.
  12. ^ Georgia Census 2002. State Statistics Department. Accessed on February 26, 2008.
  13. ^ Will Lasky. Selling Stalin. Georgian Business Magazine, Issue 4, August 2007.
  14. ^ Salome Asatiani. Great Terror: In Stalin's Birthplace, Forgiving And Forgetting. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 14, 2007.

External links

Coordinates: 41°58′N 44°06′E / 41.967°N 44.1°E / 41.967; 44.1



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