Gori (Georgian: გორი [ɡɔri]) 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”.
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 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 10.6 °C (51.1 °F), minimal in January (−1.0 °C or 30.2 °F) and maximal in July and August (21.4 °C or 70.5 °F). The maximum precipitation falls in May (76 mm or 3.0 in) and minimum in February (34 mm or 1.3 in). Precipitation here averages 603 mm.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
The fortress first appears in the 13th century records but archaeological evidence shows that the area had already been fortified in the last centuries BC. The fortress controlled major strategic and economic routes and accommodated a large garrison. In the 16th century the Ottomans captured it to overawe Tbilisi, and then it continually changed hands between the Turks, the Georgians, and the Persians. The citadel acquired the present-day form under the Georgian kings Rostom of Kartli in the 1630s and Erekle II in 1774. After the Russianannexation of Georgia in 1801, the fortress was garrisoned by a Russian grenadier battalion, but its importance gradually declined and the fortifications went defunct. The British Encyclopædia Metropolitana reported in 1845: