Gori (Georgian: გორი) is a city in eastern Georgia, which serves as the regional capital of Shida Kartli and the centre of the homonymous administrative district. The name is from Georgian gora (გორა), that is, “heap”, or “hill”.[1] As of 2002, it had a population of 49,500.

Gori was an important military stronghold in the Middle Ages and maintains a strategic importance due to its location on the principal highway connecting eastern and western parts of Georgia. In the course of its history, Gori has been invaded by the armies of regional powers several times. The city was occupied by Russian troops during the 2008 Russia–Georgia war.

Gori is also known as the birthplace of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, ballistic missile designer Alexander Nadiradze and philosopher Merab Mamardashvili.

Geography and climate

Gori is located 76 kilometers (47 mi) west of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, at the confluence of the rivers Mtkvari and Greater Liakhvi, 588 meters (1,929 ft) above sea level. The climate is transitional from moderately warm steppe to moderately humid. Summer is usually hot. The average annual temperature is 10.9 °C (51.6 °F), minimal in January (−1.2 °C or 29.8 °F) and maximal in August (22.5 °C or 72.5 °F). The maximum precipitation falls in May (76 mm or 3.0 in) and minimum in August (34 mm or 1.3 in) and January (30 mm or 1.2 in).

The territory of Gori has been populated since the early Bronze Age. According to the medieval Georgian chronicles, the town of Gori was founded by King David IV (r. 1089-1125) who settled refugees from Armenia there. However, the fortress of Gori (Goris-Tsikhe), appears to have been in use already in the 7th century, and archaeological evidence indicates the existence of an urban community in Classical Antiquity. In 1299, Gori was captured by the Alan tribesmen fleeing the Mongol conquest of their original homeland in the North Caucasus. The Georgian king George V recovered the town in 1320, pushing the Alans back over the Caucasus mountains.

 

Gori Fortress on the hilltop

With the downfall of the medieval Georgian kingdom, Gori – strategically located at the crossroads of major transit routes – was frequently targeted by foreign invaders, and changed its masters on several occasions. It was first taken and sacked by Uzun Hassan of the Ak Koyunlu in 1477, followed by Tahmasp I of Persia in the mid-16th century. By the end of that century, Gori passed to the Ottomans and became their major outpost in Georgia until being recovered by the Georgians under Simon I of Kartli after heavy fighting in 1599. The town was once again garrisoned by the Persians under Shah Abbas I in 1614.

Following successive occupations by the Ottomans (1723–35) and Persians (1735-40s), Gori returned to the Georgian control under the kings Teimuraz II and Erekle II whose efforts helped to advance economy and culture in the town. Following the Russian annexation of Georgia, Gori was granted the status of a town within the Tiflis Governorate in 1801. It grew in size and population throughout the 19th century, but was destroyed in the 1920 earthquake. An important industrial center in Soviet times, Gori suffered from an economic collapse and the outflow of population during the years of a post-Soviet crisis of the 1990s.

Gori is close to the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone. It is connected to breakaway South Ossetia’s capital Tskhinvali via a railroad spur which has been defunct since the early 1990s. In the 2000s, Georgia has increased military infrastructure in and around the city. Thus, the Central Military Hospital was relocated from Tbilisi to Gori and reequipped in October 2006.[2] On January 18, 2008, Georgia’s second NATO-standard base to accommodate the 1st Infantry Brigade (Georgia) of the Georgian Ground Forces was established at Gori.[3]

The Georgian Agrarian Science Academy Branch was established in the city in 1995. this became Sukhishvili University in 2003.