You’ve never heard of Gremi, but you should know its story.
Seeing this “city” in the Republic of Georgia was a highlight
of my trip there. The remnants of a great city that only lasted
for 150 years tell a tale we must remember. The closest big
city, Telavi, is still a hub for traders, continuing the historical
commercial importance of this region where the Silk Road
Today part of the site is a dormitory for Christian pilgrims
that come to pay homage to what their ancestors did here
and to see the beautiful Church of the Archangels that still
functions at the highest point in Gremi. The day I visited the
place was practically overrun with Georgian school children. Why?
Situated about one and a half hours northeast of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, in the region known as Kakheti, this is the fertile Alazani Valley of the Caucasus renowned for its vineyards. What was happening on the other side of the world in
Western Asia about when Columbus was discovering America? Come to find out. A fascinating movie with English subtitles can be seen at the tiny museum built at the entrance to the site.
In the second half of the 15th century Georgia was divided into two kingdoms. King of Kakheti Georgi moved his residence to Gremi in 1466. There he built a palace. You can see remnants including his stone toilet, now more than 500 years old. There are also spacious palace rooms and winding stone stairways. Apparently Georgi never felt safe here as everything is built with defense in mind, including a system to see from the third floor to first to track intruders if needed.
The reason for Georgi’s fears: two other empires wanted to take over, Turkey and Iran. Georgi’s successor, King Levan, built the Archangels Church here in 1565 at the most secure point on top of the hill.