Uplistsikhe Caves ( Region of Kartli)
Uplistsikhe Caves (Georg. უფლისციხე). Located in Eastern Georgia, Uplistsikhe (literally “Lord’s Fortress“) is an abandoned rock-hewn town, which once have played an important role in Georgian history. The place was founded in the late Bronze Age, around 1000 BC, and continued to be inhabited until 13th century AD. Between the 6th century BC and the 11st century AD, Uplistsikhe was one of the most important political and religious centers of pre-Christian Kartli – one of the predecessors of the Georgian state.
The cave town can be divided into a lower, a central and an upper area, covering an area of almost 40,000 square meters. The central area, which contains most of the rock-cut structures, is connected to the lower area by narrow tunnel. Most of the rock-cut structures are without any decorative elements, aside from some of the larger structures, which contain some stone carvings.
At the top of the complex is a Christian stone basilica, dating from the 10th century. The rock-cut structures include a large hall, called Tamaris Darbazi, pagan places of sacrifice, dwellings, as well as functional buildings, like a pharmacy, a bakery, a prison, and even an amphitheater. The rock-cut structures are connected by tunnels, while other tunnels had the purpose of an emergency escape route.
Uplistsikhe is remarkable for the unique combination of styles from rock-cut cultures of the region, most notably from Cappadocia (in modern Turkey) and Northern Iran. Most of the unearthed artifacts can be seen at the National Museum in Tbilisi. Archaeological excavations have revealed extraordinary artefacts of different epochs: beautiful golden, silver and bronze jewellery, magnificent samples of ceramics and sculptures.