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Akhaltsikhe is a small city in Georgia's southwestern region of Samtskhe–Javakheti. It is situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the north and new in the south. In the old part of the city one can see the great Rabati Castle, built by the Ottomans around a mosque, and St. Marine's Church. The hills nearby the city harbour the Sapara Monastery.

The city is first mentioned in the chronicles in the 12th century. In the 12th–13th centuries it was the seat of the House of Akhaltsikhe, dukes of Samtskhe, whose two most illustrious representatives were Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheli. From the 13th up to the 17th century the city and Samtkhe were governed by the House of Jaqeli.

In 1576 the Ottomans took it and from 1628 the city became the centre of the Akhalzik Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire as "Ahıska".

In 1828, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, Russian troops under the command of General Paskevich captured the city and, as a consequence of the 1829 Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), it was ceded to the Russian Empire as part of first Kutaisand then Tiflis Governorates.

In the late 1980s the city was host to the Soviet Army's 10th Guards Motor Rifle Division, which became a brigade of the Georgian land forces after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Rabati Castle

Rabati Castle is a fortress in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia. Originally established in the 9th century as the Lomisa Castle, it was completely rebuilt by Ottomans. Most of the surviving buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

According to the Georgian Chronicles the city was established in the 9th century by Guaram Mampal, son of the King of Tao. From the 13th to the end of 14th centuries it was the capital city of Samtskhe-Saatabago, ruled by the Georgian princely (mtavari) family and a ruling dynasty of the Principality of Samtskhe, the House of Jaqeli.

In 1393 the city was attacked by the armies of Tamerlane. Despite the Turko-Mongol invasions, the fortress withstood and continued to thrive. After the Treaty of Constantinople in 1590, the whole territory of Samtskhe-Saatabago came under the rule of Ottoman Empire. Turks Mostly used to build defensive edifices. In 1752 the first mosque was built in Rabati.

Metropolitan John writes in the late 18th century that "despite the fact that a large part of the population has been Islamized, there's still a functioning Orthodox church". After the Treaty of Georgievsk between the Kingdom of Kartli and the Russian Empire was signed, the question of the fate of Akhaltsikhe arose. The first attempt to take the fortress in 1810 failed. Prince Paskevich successfully stormed the fortress 18 years later, in the great Battle of Akhalzic. After the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829, the Ottomans yielded part of Akhaltiske Region.

The fortress and its adjacent buildings were extensively rebuilt and renovated in 2011-2012 in order to attract more tourists to the area.

Rabati Fortress

The old stone Rabati fortress, the main sight of the Akhaltsikhe town, is standing on the small hill on the very shores of the Potskhovi river. Its name comes from Arabic meaning “fortified place”. It is located on the western suburbs and can be seen practically from anywhere in the city. This military building erected in the 13th century had witnessed a lot over the centuries. The fortress had been destroyed several times, was often in a siege, as a result of which had absorbed tracks of different cultures and religions. In 2012 there was held a large reconstruction after which Rabati fortress in Akhaltsikhe turned into a town within the town. It has become not only a historical monument, but a real cultural city centre. There are church, mosque, synagogue, small park, History Museum, various shops, hotels and even civil registry office inside the fortress walls.

Today Rabati  fortress is a genuine cultural and historical complex on the square of seven hectares. The territory of the fortress is divided into a lower modern part and upper historical one. The lower part has shops, cafes, restaurant and a hotel.

The museum exposition presents an ancient history of Southern Georgia: stone items of the Neolithic Age, bronze axes found in these lands, items related to the primitive society and other artifacts. It is prohibited to take pictures in the museum.

Apart from this, the Rabati fortress has excellent viewing sites: there are four towers above the walls, where you can go up the winding stairs. Each of them has a wonderful view of Akhaltsikhe and its surroundings, and one can imagine being a guard watching an upcoming enemy. But if this does seem not enough, then you can get to the citadel roof in the western part of the fortress where you get the best ever view.

Sapara Monastery

Sapara Monastery is a Georgian Orthodox monastery in the Akhaltsikhe District of Samtskhe-Javakheti region, Georgia.

It has existed from at least the 9th century, and has numbered among its monks many important figures in Georgian ecclesiastical history. At the end of the 13th century Sapara became a possession of the Jakeli family, whose leader, Sargis Jakeli, was adept at staying on good terms with the Mongols, which enabled Samtskhe to enjoy a peace unusual for the time. When he grew old, Sargis took monastic orders and changed his name to Saba. His son Beka built the largest of the 12 churches here, St Saba's Church, named after the saint whose name his father had adopted, one of the most architecturally important churches of its time. The 14th-century frescoes inside are of high quality.

From the end of the 16th century until the beginning of the 17th century the Sapara Monastery became empty due to the expansion of Ottoman Empire policy into Samtskhe and during this process the monastery's icons and other treasures were taken to more protected areas of Georgia.

Samtskhe–Javakheti History Museum

The Samtskhe–Javakheti History Museum  is a museum in Akhaltsikhe, Samtskhe–Javakheti, Georgia, founded in 1923. In its current renovated form, the museum was opened in 2012 as part of the Georgian National Museum network. It is located on the territory of the reconstructed fortress of Akhaltsikhe, known as "Rabati".

Archeological, historical, ethnographic, paleontological, numismatic, narrative, and architectural materials reflecting Meskheti historic events from ancient times to XX century are presented at Samtskhe-Javakheti History Museum.

Jakeli Castle

The first owners of the castle were the rulers of Meskheti, Georgian feudal lords of the Jakeli family , from the house of Chorchaneli with the honorary title of atabegs , which for five centuries (from the 12th to the 17th centuries ) were the most powerful political force in southern Georgia. In 1578 , after the Ottoman Empire conquered the region, Dzhakeli at first led the resistance to the invaders, but then came over to their side and converted to Islam as the first major Georgian feudal lords . In the Ottoman Empire, the Jakeli family, until the arrival of the Russians in 1829, was in the status of hereditary pasha . One of the representatives of the clan - Ahmed Pasha - built the mosque Ahmedie , which today is one of the main attractions of the fortress and the city of Akhaltsikhe.

In May 2011, the Georgian government began restoration work at the Rabat fortress , which ended in 2012 . For these purposes, 34 million lari were allocated from the state budget . Within the project, the Jakeli Castle was also fully renovated.

Ahmediyye Mosque

Mosque Ahmediya - Middle of the XVIII century on the territory of the Akhaltsikhe fortress in the town of Akhaltsikhe , Georgia .The minaret , adjacent directly to the main building of the mosque, has the same height as the dome of the mosque (approximately 15 meters).

This religious building is also called the Haji Ahmet Pasha mosque in honor of its founder, a representative of the Jakeli clan , who ruled Meskhetia and the Akhaltsikha pashalik of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries . After the Ottomans conquered the region, the princes of the Jakeli family accepted Islam.

The mosque is built of ashlar; thick pillars, surrounding and supporting the vast building, were fastened with wide copper hoops, and on a very high dome, covered from the outside with lead sheets, the golden crescents were erected as symbols of the Muslim religion. Inside the building was decorated with many chandeliers and chandeliers, which could be considered a model of oriental taste; but its walls, except for a few sayings from the Koran, had no extraneous ornaments. In front was a genus of small altar overlaid with green jasper; on the left - a sublime place supported by columns.

The climate is cold and temperate. This climate is considered to be Dfb according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The average temperature in Akhaltsikhe is 8.0 °C. About 680 mm of precipitation falls annually.

The warmest month (with the highest average high temperature) is August (25.1°C). The month with the lowest average high temperature is January (0.2°C). The wettest month (with the highest rainfall) is June (91mm). The driest month (with the lowest rainfall) is March (38mm).

A lot of rain (rainy season) falls in the months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December. The average amount of annual precipitation is: 2440.0 mm (96.06 in)

By Car

The principal route to Akhaltsikhe runs from Georgia's main East-West highway (E60) at the spur in Khashuri leading to Borjomi. Marshrutkas run to Akhaltsikhe's main market/bus station (in front of Akhalsikhe Train Station) from Tbilisi's Didube market, as well as from the bus stations in Kutaisi and Khashuri. It's not terribly difficult to catch a marshrutka going between Akhaltsikhe and Khashuri before dinner time.

Akhaltsikhe is on the most direct land route between Armenia and Turkey (the border between these countries is closed that and is not expected to change soon). Since there is a considerable Armenian community in Akhaltsikhe, there is an easy minibus connection with Yerevan (leaving Yerevan at 08:00 in the morning). There is no early bus to Turkey, but a taxi ride from the Akhaltsikhe bus station to the Turkish border will cost no more than 20 lari (€ 9). At the Turkish border, you may autostop to Posov, the first city in Turkey, which is connected by minibus to Ardahan an Kars. Kars is currently the eastern end station of the Turkish railways, with a direct connection to Ankara and beyond. It is one hour earlier in Turkey (in summer). You probably need to spend the night in Akhaltsikhe, otherwise the schedule from Armenia to Turkey will be very tight.

By Train

As of 2010 there is no connection between Akhaltsikhe and the wider Georgian railway network; the line inside the city is abandoned.

A new railway between Tbilisi and Turkey is scheduled for completion in 2014.

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