Tourist’s guide to Ananuri fortress in Georgia: how to reach and what to see

At 67 km from Tbilisi, at the very foot of the Sheupovari mountain forest, there is a small town called Ananuri. 12 km from it, where the Vedzathevi rivulet flows into the Aragvi River, right on the Georgian Military High Road, stands Ananuri fortress.

The rich history of this defensive structure and the amazing beauty of its surrounding nature attract not only residents of this region, but also many foreign tourists.

In ancient times, the castle was built to protect the road, which at the moment is partially flooded by the river. The modern road was built much later, and it goes at a higher height than the old one. In the fortress, fleeing from the enemy, the inhabitants of nearby villages and people from farther regions of Georgia were hiding. Now from the former greatness of the ancient castle there are not so many.

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As the best-preserved ancient landmark of Georgia, Ananuri is considered to be included in the UNESCO list.

  • Entrance to Ananuri Castle is free.
  • You can visit it from 10:00 to 18:00 on any day of the week.

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What you can see on the territory of the fortress

The very first walls of this Ananuri defensive structure had a height of 5-6 m, but it was not enough to defend effectively, so later they were completed another 2-3 m. From the east and north, another lower fortress was built to the castle wall, the area of ​​which 3 times the area of ​​the top. At the moment, the walls of the lower complex are almost completely destroyed, and many buildings were built on its former courtyard in the 19th and 20th centuries, which makes it impossible to restore its original appearance.

The circular wall of the upper fortress has survived completely, 3 temples and 5 towers –2 large and 3 smaller ones have been preserved here.

Entrance tower

Entrance square tower

The entrance to Ananuri Castle was carefully protected. The side walls of the entrance square tower are equipped with special openings (loopholes and mashikuli), from which it was possible to shoot and pour hot tar on the enemies.

The entire 1st floor is a continuous gate, over which there are 3 floors. On the second, premises for housing were equipped, and on the top two, everything necessary for conducting effective defensive actions was prepared. At the very top is a terrace.

North tower

On the north side of the fortress, a small tower is included in the wall, which appears in a semicircle in front of the fence. The walls of this 3-story building, very thick below, gradually become thinner, and their upper edge has an original serrated design. The ledge on the inside is designed so that people involved in defending the fortress can move along it.

Now the most fearless tourists visiting Ananuri Castle (Georgia) climb on it to enjoy the picturesque views of the Zhinvali Reservoir opening from there.

The Stable Tower of Sheupovari

This square-shaped tower is the largest in the Ananuri complex. Its walls, having a thickness of 1.5-2 m, gradually taper upward. Sheupovari Tower – 7-story, on its 6th floor, in addition to loopholes and mashikule, fireplaces were built. Due to the fact that the interfloor floors made of wood are well preserved here, tourists have the opportunity to walk up the stairs to the very top of the structure. Photographs commemorating the sights of Georgia are beautiful here.

Stone towers Anananuri

Pyramidal tower

Of all the buildings of Ananuri Castle, the most interesting is the pyramidal tower, the roof of which is laid out in steps. Similar towers have one more name – Khevsursky. It is believed that it was this building in Ananuri that was built first.

The tower has 4 floors, with the 1st starting at a height of 3 m from the ground, and everything below is a solid wall. Above is the domed room – it was used as an observation point. There is a small opening in the wall of this room through which the gorge and the village of Ananuri, spread out next to it, were viewed. Each observation window has similar niches for observation.

The walls of the pyramidal tower are made of buta stone, and the corners are made of hewn stone. Once the walls were covered with stucco, now it remains only in some areas.

Assumption Church

Church of the Assumption

Literally a few steps from the Khevsur tower is the Assumption Temple – this is the largest church in Ananuri Fortress (Georgia). It was built in 1689.

This 2-storey building consists of brick and buta, a staircase that is built into the walls leads to the 2nd floor. The building has 14 windows and several doors.

If we talk about the architecture of the Assumption Church, it should be noted that such a solution is very rare for the 17th century – in all of Georgia there are only 3 churches with similar architecture. The building is kept in classical proportions and has a dome, and the external walls are decorated with carvings with crosses, cherubs, people, animals, birds, vines. The text on the outer wall indicates that the building was built by Mdivanbeg Bardzim.

The interior of the temple

Indoors, you can see places preserved painting. It depicts 13 famous monks preachers, who were called Assyrian fathers.

Spassky church

To the west of the Assumption Church in the Ananuri complex (Georgia) is a small domed church of the Virgin Mary (it is called the Spassky Church or Gvtaeb). The construction of this church is correlated with the end of the XVI – beginning of the XVII centuries.

Domes of Ananuri Churches

This building is made in the Romanesque style, its facades are made of rubble stone and have no decorative finish. The drum of the dome is brick, it is decorated with several false decorative arches, which are decorated with brickwork. The inner walls of the church did not save any traces of plaster, no one did the repair.

In the temple there is a tombstone on which the text is carved. The text says that the tombstone in 1674 was established by Anna Abashidze in honor of her husband, Aragwa eristav mdivanbeg Edisher.

One-nave church (Mkuriali)

Photo: Mkuriali Church in Ananuri Castle

Mkurnali belongs to the lower fortress of Ananuri, and its western wall is part of the upper fence. The walls were erected from buta, they were not tiled. This church has 2 entrances and several windows. The bell tower is decorated with beautiful arches with 8-sided columns.

Based on the style, the construction time of this church can be correlated with the second half of the XVI or the beginning of the XVII centuries.

How to get to Ananuri from Tbilisi

Tourists entering Georgia by the Georgian Military Highway cannot fail to see Ananuri. This is the first fortress that meets the passing. But those who reached this country by plane or ferry will be able to come to the sights from Tbilisi or Batumi. Although, if you go from Batumi, you still need to first get to the capital.

So, how to get to Ananuri from Tbilisi?

From the Tbilisi bus station near Didube metro, you can take one of the minibuses that go to Gudauri, Pasanauri or Stepantsminda (formerly Kazbegi) . They depart approximately every hour. The fare to Ananuri Castle is 4 GEL.

Georgian Military Road
Georgian Military Road

If you have rights in Georgia, you can easily rent a car without a driver. It is best to book a car in advance and online. Coordinates for GPS navigator: N 42 ° 09.823; E 44 ° 42.148.

You can just take a walk in Tbilisi along Kote Abkhazi Street (formerly Leselidze), choose a car you like and arrange with a private driver. In this case, the trip will cost 130 GEL.

Taxis can simply be stopped and taken on the street, or you can order at one of the many companies – then the meter will definitely be turned on. The cost of the trip is from 50 GEL one way.

To get to the Ananuri fortress is not so difficult: you just need to choose the option that is most suitable for extremeness and cost.

See also: In which area of ​​Tbilisi is it better for a tourist to stay .

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Useful Tips

  1. On the shore of the reservoir there are places where you can pitch a tent and spend the night.
  2. The best views open from the walls. Climbing them is not so easy, but the landscapes are worth it.
  3. For sightseeing, it is enough to allocate 30 minutes. If possible, use the services of a guide, then her visit will be more informative.
  4. Be prepared for a large number of people at the fortress throughout almost the entire day. This place is quite popular among tourists.



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