Visitar Gori: mucho más que la ciudad natal de Stalin

Visitar Gori: mucho más que la ciudad natal de Stalin

Why visit Gori?

Gori is known to be the birthplace of Stalin, the most famous Georgian. It is a quiet city with a certain Soviet flavor. Most tourists come here to visit the dictator’s museum, its medieval fortress and the thousand-year-old rock-cut city of Uplistsikhe, 9 miles away. If you have time, you can also enter the War Museum or get lost in the bazaar. Many people come in day trips from Tbilisi but there are also hotels, B & Bs, restaurants and a tourist office that offers all kinds of help.

It has around 50,000 inhabitants and it is the capital of the Shida Kartli region. It is located 53 miles west of Tbilisi and it takes about 1 hour and a quarter on the motorway. If you pay attention, you will see villages of prefabricated houses perfectly aligned during the trip.

These are the places where the Government has relocated the refugees from the war in South Ossetia in 2008. A blitzkrieg that splashed Gori a lot because of its proximity to the separatist territory. The Russians bombed the city causing about twenty deaths and they occupied it for ten days. What was the result? A good part of Gori’s population fled.


The history of the city is closely linked to its strength. Actually, its name comes from the Georgian word gora which means rocky hill. One of the local legends says that Hercules hid a treasure in the place where the castle is today. It is believed that the fortification exists since ancient times but it is not mentioned until the seventh century. In that reference, they qualify it as the “Golden Mountain”.

The city was developed during the time of King David Aghmashenebeli (1073-1125) in the shadow of its walls and was occupied by Ottomans, Persians, and Russians. In 1920 an earthquake devastated the locality. The city is a short distance from the border with South Ossetia.

During the 2008 conflict, Gori suffered the attacks of the Russian Army and there were dozens of deaths. For some days, the Kremlin soldiers invaded its streets and a good part of the population fled. Today, the scars of the conflict have virtually disappeared although there are still several refugee camps on Georgian soil.

What to see in Gori?

Stalin Museum

  • Address: 32 Stalinis Gamziri (Stalin Avenue).
  • Phone: +995 555 340 808. E-mail:
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Price: 10 GEL (without a ticket to the private train car, which costs 5 GEL).

There are guides in French and German. It exhibits a large number of written documents and graphics relating the life of Stalin from his early years in school, his poems in the newspaper Iveria, his rise to power, the Second World War or the Yalta conference, until his death in 1953.

The collection is a sweetened story of the president’s past, where references are missing to the incarcerations of millions of political prisoners in the gulags, the famine of 1932-1933 or the mass deportation of entire peoples such as the Crimean Tatars.

The exhibition continues with the visit to his private train car and the small house where he lived with his parents until he was four years old. The museum occupies a Soviet building located just in front of the tourist office. For more information:

Gori Fortress

Horario: abierto las 24 horas.

Opening Hours: open 24 hours.

The fortress is standing on a rocky hill and it is visible from virtually any point in the city. The current construction is from the thirteenth century although the archaeological remains reveal that the hill was walled for a long time before.

It was one of the most important locations of the Georgian kings in the eastern territories. Its strategic relevance has made it suffer various modifications and it was prepared to withstand long sieges as it had its own water supply mechanism.

War Museum

  • Address: 19 Stalin Avenue (Stalinis Gamziri).
  • Phone: +995 370 272 712.
  • Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (in summer until 6:00 p.m.).
  • Price: 3 GEL.

    It opened its doors in 1968 and initially was only focused on the memory of the victims of the Second World War. Nowadays, it also illustrates the conflict between Georgia and Russia for control of South Ossetia by 2008.

History and Ethnographic Museum

  • Address: 12 Kirion II Street.
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (in summer until 6:00 p.m).

Iosif ‘Steel Fist’ Stalin

Stalin means steel fist in Russian. The former president of the USSR gives himself this nickname to demonstrate his strength, and the truth is that it was absolutely perfect. For several decades he ruled almost 200 million people with an iron fist and he organized mass deportations, he sent millions of political prisoners to forced labor camps and he executed hundreds of thousands of opponents during his government.

The number of fatalities of their abuses is still unknown, but some experts estimate it was about 20 million, considering the people who lost their lives in the Soviet famines of 1932 and 1933 as a result of their disastrous agrarian policy.

For the majority, he has gone down in history as one of the greatest tyrants in history, but in the countries of the Soviet orbit, there are some people who consider him like a savior, the man who turned his homeland into a superpower that dominated half the world and it stopped the advance of capitalism.

He was one of the key figures in the defeat of Hitler’s troops and he managed to convert a mainly agricultural state into one of the most industrialized countries. In the words of Churchill, “when Stalin took Russia he only had a wooden plow but when he left it, he had nuclear weapons”.

Iosif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili was born in 1878 in a little house in Gori. His mother was a washerwoman and his father a shoemaker who was addicted to drinking and who abused them. His childhood and youth were marked by his physical defects: his face scarred by smallpox and the left foot webbed from birth.

His good grades at school earned him a scholarship to go to study at the Theological Seminary of Tbilisi. There, he was immersed in Marxist literature and he was linked to revolutionary movements. In 1899 he left the study center and soon after he joined the Bolsheviks.

How did he come to power?

From 1901 to 1917 he went undercover. He was untiringly spreading the socialist message for the Caucasus and he led a group that financed the party through bank robberies. He was arrested eight times and he escaped from all but the last prisons, where he had to remain in Siberia until the Russian Revolution in 1917.

His rise to power was meteoric. He was the editor of the newspaper Pravda (The Truth) in 1917, that same year he was elected as a member of the Central Committee of the party. He worked as a political officer in the Red Army and as commissar of the People of National Affairs. But his opportunity to take over of the nation came to him in 1922 with his appointment as general secretary of the Communist Party.

After the death of Lenin in 1924, he managed to get rid of his enemies little by little with a series of skillful alliances and he took absolute control. His mandate was characterized by political repression that only ended with his death in 1953. After the drama of Stalinism, his successor, Khrushchev, recognized his excesses.

Gori surroundings



Opening Hours: from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

It is one of the three cave cities that there is in Georgia, and it is the oldest one of all. If you visit Gori, do not miss it. It is believed that it was inhabited since the second millennium B.C. and that more than 20,000 people lived there in its heyday. Some have called it the Petra of the Caucasus.

It is located on an area of ​​9.5 hectares and it had its own theater, bathhouses, warehouses, temples, and even a pharmacy. Before the arrival of Christianity, its inhabitants prayed to the goddess of the Sun Nana. Later, the old pagan rites gave way to the new faith and churches were built, such as Uplistsulis (tenth century), which stands on top of the hill.

Its inhabitants lived on the production of wine, fishing, hunting, and pottery. Wineries have been found with a huge storage capacity, which means that around there should have been at least 60 hectares of vineyards according to experts. Its inhabitants pierced in the rock a road for the merchants of the Silk Road were able to pass.

Merchants from Iran, Colchis, and Europe traveled through it two thousand years ago. Its decline began in 1122 when King David Aghmashenebeli (The Builder) kicked the Arabs off and he turned Tbilisi into their capital. The death blow was given by the Mongols, who plundered it in the middle of the 13th century.

Uplistsikhe is about 9 miles from Gori, on the left side of the Mtkavari River. There are marshrutkas stopping at Khvakhvereli -15 minutes walking from Uplistsikhe- at 6:30, 12:00, 1:45, 3:45, 5:00 and 6:00 hours. They return, at 7:00, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 and 18:00 hours, although make sure you schedule well because they tend to change. If you prefer going straight a roundtrip taxi from Gori by waiting an hour, it will cost you around 20 GEL.


Practical information

Address: 23 Kutaisi Street.

Phone: +995 370 27 07 76.

Opening Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (in summer until 7:00 p.m.).

They offer all kinds of information. They help to find accommodation and they give some tips to travelers.

  • Marshrutkas and buses: within 15 minutes you will arrive at the bus station walking from the tourist office, a few meters from the intersection of Chavchavadze and Guramishvili. Buses and marshrutkas heading towards Tbilisi are leaving every twenty minutes from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm (3 GEL). There are also shared taxis (5 GEL).
  • There are minibusses to Akhaltsikhe at 8:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., (7 GEL), to Uplistsikhe (Khvakhvereli) at 6:30, 12:00, 1:45, 3:45, 5:00 and 6:00 p.m, and to Borjomi at 12.30 and 16:10 p.m. On the information collection date for the guide there was a marshrutka leaving to Batumi at 9:30 a.m.
  • Trains: there are trains from Gori heading to Tbilisi at 5:09, 5:24, 5:51, 6:40, 7:25, 9:27, 9:51, 1:42, 2:36, 3:34 and 7:16 p.m. The opening hours are tentative because they tend to change. You can check them out at the tourist office or on the web
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