Welcome to the ancient cave city curved in the rocks on the Mtkvari riverbank. In Hellenistic period this place used to be an important religious, political and cultural centre. After Georgia adopted Christianity as the only official state religion in 337, the role and importance of the cave city declined rapidly. It rose once again in 9th century, when the place was chosen to be a residence of Georgian kings. Last residents left their caves in the beginning of 19th century. Not that long ago, when you think about it. Today there is no even a drop of their wine left. This means something; we all know they used to drink a lot. Everything that remained to remind about the inhabitants from the past was taken to the museum located nearby.
The rocks and caves are still there though. If you sit still for a while, they will tell you a story of the lives that passed by two thousand years ago. Or, at least, they will help you tell this story to yourself.
While contemplating the rocks in the sun under robin egg blue skies, watch out for lizards, at the very moment the only inhabitants of the place. We got lucky, they seem to be ok with the visitors. They will even pose for you.
I visited Uplistsikhe twice this year. I went there on my own in May and then I came back with my mom in June. It was hot during my visits. Most of the tourists got lazy in the stuffy heat of Tbilisi or in the vineyards of Kakheti. They have no idea how grateful I’m for their sweet laziness. They let me go and explore all the remaining caves of what once was a great ancient settlement in silence. In their absence I could just sit and think about the vastness of space and its importance. About the harmony with the nature the people of Uplistsikhe once built. About the harmony with nature we keep losing today in the Western(ised) world. It’s good to stay alone with the rocks sometimes and let them tell you their story. All over the world, in all the magical places like this one harmony speaks the same language.
More about the harmony. When it comes to me, it’s always about the space. Mountains make me happy. Staring at the horizon calms me down. But Uplistsikhe is more than just that. I’ve always been fascinated by ancient settlements located exactly where nature dictated people to build them. Centuries pass, the special vibe stays. You come, you see and you don’t have to conquer. Everything seems just about right.
Just look at the photos. You will understand.
Uplistsikhe is an easy one day trip from Tbilisi. The simplest way to get there is to go to Gori by marshrutka, I mean the minibus, and then take a taxi for approximately 25 lari. The driver will wait for you and take you back to town. There are always people looking for the affordable mean of transport to get to the caves, so you can just share the car with other wanderers which makes it way cheaper. Or, if you feel like, you can try to hitchhike, it usually goes pretty smooth in these parts.
Have you ever been to Uplistsikhe? Would you like to go?