Uplistsikhe is place that will amaze you with its unusual and mysterious atmosphere.
This fascinating and once enormous cave city is situated 10km east of Gori above the north side of the Mtkvari River, with magnificent views along the Mtkvari valley. Between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD, Uplistsikhe developed into one of the chief political and religious centers of pre-Christian Kartli, with temples dedicated principally to the sun goddess. After the Arabs occupied Tbilisi in AD 645, Uplistsikhe became the residence of the Christian kings of Kartli and an important trade center on a main caravan road from Asia to Europe.
Uplistsikhe is identified by archaeologists as one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia and contains various structures dating from the Early Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages, and is notable for the unique combination of various styles of rock-cut cultures from Anatolia and Iran, as well as the co-existence of pagan and Christian architecture.
With the Christianization of Kartli early in the 4th century, Uplistsikhe seems to have declined in importance and lost its position to the new centers of Christian culture – Mtskheta and, later, Tbilisi. However, Uplistsikhe reemerged as a principal Georgian stronghold during the Muslim conquest of Tbilisi in the 8th and 9th century. The Mongol raids in the 14th century marked the ultimate eclipse of the town; it was virtually abandoned, and only occasionally used as a temporary shelter in times of foreign intrusion.
Archaeological excavations in Uplistsikhe have revealed numerous artifacts of different periods, including gold, silver and bronze jewellery, and samples of ceramics and sculptures. Many of these artifacts are in the safekeeping of the National Museum in Tbilisi.
The Uplistsikhe cave complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage program since 2007.