Shida Kartli is a part of Georgia that covers the central part of Shida Kartli’s historical-geographical province. Its administrative center is in the town of Gori, where the world-famous dictator of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin was born. The region is bordered to the north with the Russian Federation, Mtskheta-Mtianeti Georgia, Kvemo Kartli to the south, Samtskhe-Javakheti to the southwest, Imereti to the west and Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti to the north.
It consists of the following municipalities:
The kingdom of Kartli was a part of the Iberian kingdom that in today’s world forms a part of some of the countries such as Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and a small part of Russia. In the middle period of history, Inner Kartli of the Shida Kartli was a part of Kartli Saeristavo which literally means an administrative unit. In the later periods, the region suffered a terrible Mongolian invasion, and they began to lose some of the smaller administrative units within the region, little by little. Some of the administrative parts that were lost included Aragvi saeristavo, Sacicano saeristavo, Saamilakhravo saeristavo, Saajavkho saeristavo, Samachablo saeristavo, and Samukhranbatono saeristavo. Then, the Kartli kingdom was dispersed into four small military units; three of them were inside the kingdom of Kartli. After this, the region was incorporated into the Soviet Union and the province of Gori was made under the Dusheti region.
The region is bordered by natural sources on both sides, such as the Aragvi River to the east, the Caucasus Mountain Range to the north, the Likhi Mountain Range to the west, and the Trialeti Mountain Range to the south. The region is rich in water as the most important resource in the world. There is no shortage of rivers in this region. There are rivers: Mtkvari, Dzama, Tana, Tezam, Kavtura. The natural springs and rivers in this region have medical value. All of these rivers are used for irrigation and aid agriculture. In the southern part of the region, there are important land and rail highways.
Considering the climate of this region, it is completely different from the western part of Georgia. The climate in this region is dry and continental with an exception of the great caucasian range in the north and some parts that are at an altitude of 3000 to 3500 meters above sea level. It is humid and the peaks of the mountains are covered with snow all throughout the year.
Shida Kartli is quite rich in natural resources. It has a wide variety of soils, forests (occupying 46% of the region’s territory), water and other resources (e.g. recreational ones). Kaspi, Khashuri, and Gori municipalities are rich in resources whereas the Kareli municipality has a lower amount of resources. It should be noted that the region has a wide variety of mineral resources. The mineral resources of the region include iron, silver, gold, lead, zinc; however, due to their small number and limited use in producing, their economic value is generally low. There is also a negative impact of conflicted areas (e.g. suspension of the Kvaisa development). Therefore, the mining of most resources is either limited or suspended. In this regard, the extraction of inert materials (sand and gravel) from river beds (in particular, the Mtkvari river) and ravines and their use in the construction industry is a comparatively important and perspective project. Among other
mineral resources, the region produces flux limestone, dolomite, paving stones, magmatic rocks, lightweight aggregates, furnace limestone, brick clay, etc.
Museum of Stalin
In the downtown of Gori, there is the House-Museum of Stalin. This is the birthplace of the founder of the Soviet Union, world-famous dictator Joseph Stalin.
85 km away from Tbilisi and several km away from Gori, there is settled Gorijvari, on the Gorijvari mount. A lot of people from different corners of the country used to visit this place for vacations and to improve health conditions. Nowadays, there is a bathhouse operated in Gorijvari.
Apart from the historical city of the region of Shida Kartli,it has some culturally rich zones including some major monasteries and ancient settlements some of which would be described here:
Ateni Sioni Church is an old monument dating back to the 7th century. It is a domed church that is located 10 kilometres away from the city of Gori on the bank of a river called Ateni. The church is placed on the top of a hill and the name Sioni is considered to originate from the Zion of Jerusalem. The church is decorated with carved quadrangle greenish-gray stones and ornaments. Inscriptions that are considered to be the scripts of early Georgian language are found in this holy church. Moreover, the church resembles the church that is found in Mtskheta.
Samtavisi church is located in the kaspi municipality in the center of a village called Samtavisi. The church is considered to be built in the 400’s under the rule of a king called Vakhtang who has been mentioned in the Georgian chronicles. The church has inscriptions on its walls; the inscriptions support this theory. The church has survived numerous catastrophes and still remains functional, although there are no remains of the past.
Uplistsikhe is an ancient rock-hewn town dating back to the first Millenium BC. From the 4th century, the importance of the town declined, and then became deserted. The meaning of Uplistsikhe means the Lords Fortress and at the top of the hill, there is a small church. Nowadays, the cave city, with its secret tunnels and rock architecture, is a fast developing tourist spot.
Surami fortress is also a very popular tourist site located on the bank of river Suramula, in the Southern part of the settlement. The complex includes the wall, fortress, tower, palace, and the St. George Church. As every fortress, this fortification also had a secret tunnel, leading into the depth of 12-16 m.
In general, the region has quite a great tourist potential. However, the right tourist “niches” need to be identified in order to develop and offer competitive travel products. The region has a potential for the development of health tourism, eco-tourism, agro-tourism, cultural, active and extreme tourism. The development of tourism is one of the preconditions for the growth of revenues and employment. For instance, the establishment of catering and recreational facilities, private guesthouses, and tourist centers near cultural sites would provide employment opportunities for the local population and an additional stimulus for the production and sale of agricultural products.