The Village Gorelovka contains the Doukhobors Museum, and the village was founded in the 1840’s by the Doukhobors. They were a group of Christian Russians exiled to the region by Tsar Nicholas I. The Doukhobors living in the Ninotsminda Municipality were exiled in the mid-19th century. The word Doukhobor means ‘spirit wrestler’ in Russian. Considered to be heretics by the Orthodox Church in Russia for their rejection of church ritual, many Doukhobors chose exile in the Caucasus region of the Russian empire in the 1840s rather than convert to Orthodoxy. A number settled in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Georgia.
The Museum, which was once a building of the Rus-Dukhabor Orphanage, it was built in 1847 at the initiative of the head of the Doukhobor movement, Luceria Kalmikova. The orphanage complex includes several buildings of significance, the Russian Dukhobors’s cultural life building, farm, and the orphanage, which is the spiritual center of the Russian Doukhobors and a place of worship.
The Doukhobors were exiled after burning their weapons of war, rejecting Russian Orthodoxy, and as pacifists refusing to join the army or fight in any wars. It is said that Leo Tolstoy helped many relocate to Canada where a large population of Doukhobors live today, while a minority of Doukhobors live in Georgia, the Ukraine and other neighboring countries. When they came to Georgia, they built homes putting sand from the nearby lake on their roofs to keep warm, and painted their homes in joyful hues of white, blue and green as they created a communal living environment in this harsh region.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, non-Doukhobors began moving into the area. With the rise of nationalism and the arrival of Georgians into villages such as Gorelovka. The Doukhobors were no longer welcome, many moved away but a handful still remain. The diverse people of Gorelovka now live in a harsh environment, but surrounded by stunning scenery.