Manavi Fortress is a little-visited place by tourists, but due to its beauty and picturesque and excellent location, the construction of fortifications began in the 10th-11th centuries, and in the 17th-18th centuries the royal family of Bagrationi built a castle and their summer residence here. The location of the fortress gave an overview in all directions within a radius of 10-15 kilometers, which made it possible to warn in time about the appearance of enemies. In the Manavi fortress, the parents of the most famous, last king of Georgia – Heraclius II – Tsar Teimuraz and Queen Tamara played a wedding, and in the summer – the royal family sometimes rested in their Manavi castle.
The fortress visually consists of 2 parts. The first is the citadel, which is located on a hill. The second part is the lower fortress. Citadel – residential and utility rooms, protected by a defensive wall, the lower fortress is the main line, which was created so that the enemy could not get close to the Citadel.
The fencing walls of the Citadel consist of 4 round towers from which the terrain was clearly visible. These were the main observation posts, from here, in case of danger, an alarm was sent to the lower fortress and the village itself.
Like any fortress, Manavi had several entrances. The main entrance to the northern part of the Citadel has been preserved. It was through him that the tsars, along with their retinue, entered their possessions. And now, we can repeat the path of the kings to the Citadel – the road has recently been restored. Unfortunately, not all the components of the fortress have survived, but even that there is enough to understand how and for what they were built at that time and feel the spirit of antiquity, to feel at least for a couple of moments participants in those times and events.
Now the complex includes the following buildings:
– inner castle (the latest of all buildings in the complex);
– citadel (upper defensive complex);
– the ruins of the former tower house and a small tower;
– 3 churches (the large church of the Holy Mother of God, the small church and the church of St. George);
– the lower fortress (the first line of defense on the way of the enemy);
The history of the fortress is very mysterious. The strategic importance of the fortress is clearly visible, but very little information about it has survived. Judging by the different styles of construction, the king did not have enough of the structures that were already in the fortress, so he begins the construction of the palace. The importance of the complex is also shown by the fact that in 1712 King Teimuraz II (the youngest son of the King of Kakheti Heraclius) played his wedding here and over the next years lived in the Manavi fortress. It has been documented that back in 1724 life was in full swing in the fortress. It is also known that at the beginning of the 18th century, it was here that the king of Kakheti, David II (the king’s eldest son) lived and ruled from here. Subsequent information dates back to 1772 from Johann Antonovich Guldenstedt, a historian and traveler. He writes that the village of Manavi is almost completely destroyed, and the remaining population has gone north, behind a steep hill. This is where the historical data about the fortress ends and one can only guess about its fate. Without constant monitoring of the condition, the fortress began to simply collapse and about half of the complex has survived to this day.
Unlike many fortresses and temple complexes in Georgia, no reconstruction was carried out here, which is great. We see only what has been preserved and we understand that these structures, tombstones and just stones are from 5 to 10 hundred years old. This is amazing!
For tourists who love dilapidated antiquity, not spoiled by a quick reconstruction, this place can be a real find. By the way, for those who are fond of artistic photography, it is just a gift of fate: the intersection of nature and architecture, modern life and bygone history. Having visited the fortress, taking stunning photos, you will extend the history of the fortress and leave your memories for future generations!