History

The name Tianeti has been used in a double sense: to denote a geographical area in one case, and a nearby settlement in another. The village is situated on the territory surrounded by wooded hills, therefore initially it was called „Mtianeti“ (meaning a mountainous area); with the time the first letter „m“ got lost, thus forming a toponym „Tianeti“.

Ertso-Tianeti is a mountainous geographical region. It seems to be the very place from which human society stemmed in the distant past. Historical chronicles mention that „King Vakhtang Gorgasali arrived with his troops at Mtianeti“; „King Bagrat came to stay in Mtianeti“; „King Bagrat IV arrived at Mtianeti“; „King Teimuraz I had been camping in Mtianeti“.

Tianeti is one of the oldest municipalities with a rich history; this is signified by the monuments of ecclesiastical architecture existing in Iori valley. Triangular basilicas of Sioni and Zhaleti of the earlier period represent major monuments of the Middle Ages.

 

The Sioni Church belongs to the early stage of the development of Georgian architecture; according to historians, the Zhaleti Basilica located near the road leading to Tianeti must have been erected in the 9th century.

There is a monastery built by King Archil II referred to in the chronicles as the Martyr King, in the neighborhood of Nadokra village, dated back to the 8th century. He was tortured by the Arabs and then beheaded for refusing to abandon his own faith and nationality. His contemporary noble Georgians stole the corpse of the king and buried in his monastery in Nadokra village.

The remains of present-day Tskhrakara historical complex date back to the 10th century. When the Kingdom of Georgia was divided into several principalities, the so-called Tskhrakara or Bodoji Palace became a major object, known as Royal Palace of Kakheti kings, built by Kvirike III, the King of Kakheti in the 10th century.

One of the most ancient historical monuments- the remains of a town-fort is located in Jijeti village, with its complex outreaching into the Verkhveli Valley. By its architectural style, it also displays the signs of belonging to the Age of Antiquity.  There have been found artefacts made of bronze as well as some items depicting pre-Christian religious cult, currently preserved in Tianeti Museum.

There are the remains of a fortress called Arkhali Fort on the left bank of Iori River near Duluzaurebi village, belonging to the developed feudal period.

The remains of a massive defensive premise - Ochani Fotress are located in the neighborhood of the former Ochani village, now Artani village. It had been used as a reliable protective accommodation for Kakheti kings during the invasions of foreign tribes.

King Lasha-Giorgi had a special attitude toward Ertso-Tianeti, signified by a credible piece of information provided by the chronicler Vakhushti Batonishvili; according to it, the Phshav-Khevsurs (the people of the mountainous North-Eastern region of Georgia) showed great respect to the church erected by the King since Lasha-Giorgi was their patron too during the troubled times. In order to demonstrate their gratitude, the people called their main religious festivity dedicated to St.George, „Lasharoba“ (meaning- celebration to honor Lasha’s personality). This event is celebrated until today and is regarded as a folk (popular) solemnity.

Historical chronicles prove that Lasha-Giorgi’s consort, Queen Susana, deprived of the right to be regarded as a lawful spouse of the King, died in fact in Trialeti, in the place, where now Lasharis Jvari, a church is located.

Lasha-Giorgi’s son, David, named King David Ulu of Georgia afterwards, was born and raised in Tianeti.

A remarkable ecclesiastical architectural building of Bodav-Fudznari constructed during the reign of Lasha-Giorgi, captivates its viewers with its outstanding architectural style and grandeur.

A major part of the population of Ertso-Tianeti preferred living on the slopes and plains in the Middle Ages. They used to build churches and monasteries on flat lands because of the best conditions for self-defense. It could be said that one of the most considerable factors for historically acclaimed endurance of the Georgian people is attributed to the natural-geographical location of our country.

Tianeti as the name of a geographical area was referred to for the first time in historical chronicles in the 4th century, in relation to the introduction of Christianity into the Kingdom of Kartli. According to the Conversion of Karli Kingdom, a written source, in order to converse Mtielebi (people of a mountainous region) of Kartli to the Christian faith, Saint Nino the Illuminator „...moved from Tsobeni to Ertso and stayed in Zhaleti and baptized the people of Ertso-Tianeti“. Leonti Mroveli, the chronicler of the 11th century, also proves the same fact.

 


Tianeti Municipality © 2011. Website created with the support of Eurasia Partnership Foundation