Towards the end of our tour of Georgia, our guide told us we were going to Newcastle. We were actually visiting Rabati or Akhaltsikhe Castle which is literally a new castle, but the word Akhaltsikhe also means new castle in Georgian.
The medieval fortress, built as Lomsia Castle in the 9th century, is located on a hilltop overlooking the small city of Akhaltsikhe. In 2011-12 both the walls around the 8-hectare site and inner complex were controversially rebuilt and reimagined, with many locals feeling it was ‘Disney-fied’.
The territory of the fortress was divided into a lower modern part and upper historical one.
The lower part had shops, cafes, restaurants and a beautiful looking Persian style hotel with domes and wooden filigree balconies.
The upper part comprised of a citadel, the Akhmediye mosque, a Georgian Orthodox church, and Djakeli palace, which now houses a history museum which we didn’t have time to visit.
Whilst it may be controversial, there is no doubt it was very photogenic and having climbed up one of the four towers, there were superb views of the entire complex and city below. It would have been easy to linger longer.