Ancient town-fortress Dmanisi is, probably, one of the most complex sightseeing places in Georgia. It combines ruins of fortress and significant archeological findings. The town-fortress used to be an important staging post on the Great Silk Road. Back then, there was a thriving trading center with many craftsmen and a fortress that helped to protect Georgia.
The town is located 93 km away from Tbilisi, in the Kvemo Kartli region. The fortress remains in ruins today, but used to occupy area of 25 hectares. Nothing is left from its past glory, but some remaining buildings prove that the fortress was built during medieval times. These buildings are basilica of 6th century and bell tower that used to warn citizens of Dmanisi about approaching danger.
The town of Dmanisi was first mentioned in 9th century as a part of the Arab emirate of Tbilisi. In 1080, the fortress was invaded by the Turks, but David the Builder freed Dmanisi in 1123. After being liberated, the town experienced rapid development and became one of the largest trading centers in medieval Georgia. However, all prosperity was destroyed by Tamerlan’s army in 14th century; Dmanisi was laid to waste. Almost all citizens were killed, the ones who weren’t abandoned the town; it never got its fame back and turned into a small village.
Dmanisi became one of the most popular destinations of Georgia after archaeological excavations in 20th century. The results of excavations were more important than anyone could imagine; artifacts questioned the basic theory of evolution of humankind. Archeologists used to think that hominids evolved into Homo erectus in Africa, however, artifacts of Dmanisi proved that hominids evolved in Eurasia. Scientists discovered bones of two first men and named them Zevzi and Mzia. They represent the earliest examples of human presence in Caucasus.
Other interesting destinations in Dmanisi are ancient cathedral, graveyard with unusual headstones shaped like animals, and towers, where Queen Tamar bathed, according to legends. Today Dmanisi is still being examined by archeologists and it’s unknown what they might find.