Odzrkhe Fortress and Archeological Complex


On the site of present-day Abastumani, from ancient times there was the fortress-town of Odzrkhe (Otskhe). The Georgian historical tradition connects with the establishment of Odzrkhi with the Georgian ethnarch – Odzrakhos. It is thought that this ancient geographical point is still in the Urartian inscriptions. It is mentioned in 8th century AD, and has been confirmed many times since then in historical sources.

Later, when the Odzrkhe (Otskhe) population was gone, its name was lost, and the new settlers in the 19th century called it the name of a nearby village – Abastumani.

The Tamar Fortress was also a part of the defense system of Otzrkhi, which is located at the beginning of Abastumani, on the watershed ridge at the confluence of the rivers Otskhi and Kurtskhani, on the right bank of the river Otskhe. This is no ordinary fortified building, according to all records, it was the residence of a feudal lord. It had a castle-hall with its own church, reception hall and other storerooms. The height of it’s walls reach about 15 meters. These sloping walls enclose a courtyard extending along a narrow rocky ridge along the north-east-south-west longitudinal axis, at the head of which has the last two multistory towers attached. The fortress is made of a piece of rock, with a surface-lined quarry and a solid lime mortar.

One of the most important and relatively intact buildings of Tamar Fortress is a large, four-story tower. The surviving walls reach almost their original full-height, which enclose a courtyard wrapped by a high fence to the east. The impressive silhouette of Tamar Castle dominates the two valleys. According to the layout, the entrance of the rectangular residential tower is located on the second floor, on the side of the prison yard. At the top of the walls there are inscriptions of sashes and sleds. Firearms were present there but are not visible. Intermediate roof spools are nowhere to be found, only their nests can be used to determine flooring. Notable inside the tower, built into the northwest corner, is the high-rise storeroom. It is made of well-glazed walls on the inside and a conical arched end, quite large in the middle, with a round hole large enough to accommodate a human. Presumably, this storehouse served as a dugout, or product storage jar.
The second tower of the castle-hall is on the back.

The church is located inside the fence, on the north wall of the castle. The building is damaged but stands at almost at its full height, without a roof. The church is a small and approximately 3×5 m. Its a rectangular chapel, built of rubble and roughly worked with stones of different sizes. The arrangement of interior and exterior walls is identical to each other. The interior of the church is unified, the walls and chamber are not separated by pilasters and pedestal arches. There is a drawing niche in the altar, on both sides. There was an underground storehouse under the altar, but it has been excavated by treasure hunters. The church has two plains, the entrance from the west and the south. The church of Tamar Castle must have been built before the Tamar era, as indicated by the wall arrangement, the organization of the interior space, and the arrangement of the facades.
There is also a large living room, which occupies the western part of the courtyard and is directly adjacent to this side, the castle locking tower. The building is preserved in the form of ruins, although its architectural appearance can be restored in the main lines. Like other parts of the castle, this building is built of rough-hewn rock. The wide opening of the hall door is located in the middle of the wall enclosing the width of the whole yard from the east side. The plan was to finish with a parking arch approaching the square, much of which is currently collapsed. Today, in a ruined interior, it is difficult to tell whether the 10-meter-wide arch had a supporting structure. On the north side of the wall there are two wide and deep niches of unequal size, finished with a flat arch, above which the wall extends into the curve of the arch. The edges of these niches and door openings are made of relatively large blocks, and a small stone sunk into the lime mortar was used for the arch. Remarkable are the surviving stone steps to the west wall of the hall, which turn at an angle and follow the north wall above. This staircase may have been connected to the fortress control-defense tower on the west side through the roof of the hall.

Except for Tamar Fortress, on the same slope of the ridge, the river. On the Otskhe side, there are the remains of a second castle and a tunnel leading out to the water’s edge.
A little further away, the ruins of an old monastery complex at the confluence of the Otskhi and Kurtskhan are preserved.


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