Gori is home to two important sites in the human story. One isn’t so positive, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, and the other a cave city dating back over 3000 years called Uplistsikhe. Only an hour from Tbilisi, it’s easy to see both on a day trip from Tbilisi. There is also a castle in Gori, but I didn’t get a chance to visit it.
It is said that many people living in Gori are fervently proud of their hometown son, Joseph Stalin. This is in contrast with the rest of Georgia and the rest of the Soviet Union where he is remembered as a mass murderer.
Stalin was born in a simple home to an underprivileged family in 1879. He lived there for four years. The wooden home he lived in has been preserved and is protected by a fancy columned structure. You can see it below.
The museum itself was interesting. The building is beautiful on its own. As I entered I got my ticket. The lady selling tickets was wearing some kind of uniform from Soviet times. I asked if I could get a picture with her and she said no. Ok.
I was there with Georgian friends and from what they told me, it’s true what I read online. The people who work there are almost in a sort of cult of reverence to Stalin. They spoke in Georgian, of course, but my friend said the way they spoke of Stalin was eerie. They were enamored with him somehow.
Most pictures and exhibits were in Georgian, English, and Russian, but the main signs for each area were only in Georgian and Russian. It told Stalin’s story. I felt like they only told the good “highlights” but at the end there is a room set up to resemble the prisons/gulags where prisoners went to die. So, a mild taste of reality.
Uplistsikhe is an uninhabited city dating back to the 16th century BC. It’s a city carved out of rock and was a bustling city of around 3000 along the Silk Road. It was a center of pagan worship. The day I was there the weather was particularly unforgiving. It was raining and the wind was fierce. I can’t imagine what it was like for the residents so long ago to eek out a life in such harsh conditions.
The city gradually declined after the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century and then the Mongol invasion in the 12th century. The church you’ll see in the pictures is from the 9th century, built on top of a temple dedicated to the Caucasian pagan sun god named Uplistsikhe.