Ananuri is a castle complex on the Aragvi River in Georgia, about
45 miles from Tbilisi.
Ananuri was a castle and seat of the eristavis (Dukes) of Aragvi, a
feudal dynasty which ruled the area from the 13th century. The
castle was the scene of numerous battles.
In 1739, Ananuri was attacked by forces from a rival duchy,
commanded by Shanshe of Ksani and was set on fire. The Aragvi clan
was massacred. However, four years later, the local peasants
revolted against rule by the Shamshe, killing the usurpers and
inviting King Teimuraz II to rule directly over them. However, in
1746, King Teimuraz was forced to suppress another peasant
uprising, with the help of King Erekle II of Kakheti. The fortress
remained in use until the beginning of the 19th century. In 2007,
the complex has been on the tentative list for inclusion into the
UNESCO World Heritage Site program.
The fortifications consist of two castles joined by a crenellated
curtain wall. The upper fortification with a large square tower,
known as Sheupovari, is well-preserved and is the location of the
last defense of the Aragvi against the Shamshe. The lower
fortification, with a round tower, is mostly in ruins.
Within the complex, amongst other buildings, are two churches. The
older Church of the Virgin, which abuts a tall square tower, has
the graves of some of the Dukes of Aragvi. It dates from the first
half of the 17th century, and was built of brick. The interior is
no longer decorated, but of interest is a stone baldaquin erected
by the widow of the Duke Edishera, who died in 1674.
The larger Church of the Assumption (Ghvtismshobeli), built in 1689
for the son of Duke Bardzem. It is a central dome style structure
with richly decorated facades, including a carved north entrance
and a carved grapevine cross on the south facade. It also contains
the remains of a number of frescoes, most of which were destroyed
by the fire in the 18th century.