Gogia Fortress, Borjomi

Gogia Fortress, otherwise known as Gogia’s Castle, stands guard near the resort town of Borjomi, Georgia as a tangible reminder of the region’s medieval history and hard-earned peace.

While it is believed that Gogia’s Castle was built before the 14th century, as similar rectangular towers are not found in Georgian architecture past this century, the earliest written records of the fortress date from the 16th century. Gogia’s Castle underwent reconstruction during the late feudal era (16th -18th centuries), at which time it belonged to the contemporary rulers of Borjomi, namely Gogia of the Avalishvili family. The fortress held great strategic importance: Along with Gogia’s cousin’s Petre’s Castle, it belonged to a chain of fortifications situated in the gorge which guarded the roads connecting Samtskhe-Javakheti with Kartli and Imereti and which would use bonfires to warn each other of an approaching enemy. Throughout the centuries, Gogia Fortress came under attack from foreign invaders and even from the Avalishvilis themselves.

Cousins Gogia and Petre Avalishvili had a long-standing feud between them, eventually reconciling after the intervention of relatives. As a sign of friendship, they decided to have a feast in Gogia’s Castle. After both men were inebriated, a fight broke out in the castle in which both Gogia and Petre were killed, along with a large number of their warriors. According to legend, the fight between them has not yet stopped, for at dusk the ghosts which haunt the castle engage in battle that does not abate until sunrise. As soon as the light of day appears, the roar of battle subsides and the warriors again vanish.

During the 19th century, Gogia’s Castle was still used as a watchtower, first by Georgian police and then by Russian troops. It also played a role in the war against the Turks in 1828. The Turks attempted to capture this checkpoint, where forty members of the Georgian militia, led by the brave Vezirishvili, were stationed at the time. The Georgians fought heroically against the enemy, successfully resisting the attacks of the Turks and forcing them to retreat after inflicting them with significant losses. In subsequent years, a Russian army checkpoint was stationed at Gogia Fortress to guard the narrow path through which the enemy had to pass.

Although now in ruins, Gogia’s Castle is easily accessible from Borjomi, an adventurous getaway which provides a beautiful outlook over the town. Situated on a prominent hill northwest of Borjomi, the castle is approximately 2 kilometers from the city and affords a pleasant walk, although it could be a bit steep in some places depending on which path you take. Petre’s Castle, which lies on a mountain just south of Borjomi, is often visited in conjunction with a trip to Gogia Fortress.