Smashvilde is one of the most ancient towns in Caucasus region. This abandoned town is located 70 km away from Tbilisi. Today Samshvilde is comprised of ruins of citadel, central Sioni Church, some smaller churches, ancient graveyard, a water storage, a bridge, and many caves. For many centuries the town had been a large center and fortress of Kvemo Kartli. Major part of the town was built around 5th and 9th centuries BC. Until 17th century BC the town remained an important strategic and trading center of Georgian Kingdom.
Because of its strategical importance Smashvilde was attacked by invaders several times. In 1664, all citizens were killed by Shah Jahan and his army; historical sources state that Shah Jahan built a tower out of citizen’s severe heads. The main historical monument of the town is ruins of Sioni Church that was built by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the 5th century. Prince Guaram of Ibera initiated new construction 100 years later, his heir Adarnase finished his plans in 639. The legend says that both princes are buried in Sioni Church, however, nothing has been found to prove that. It was damaged and rebuilt again several times.
The first ones to ruin the church were the Arabs, but David the Builder reconstructed the building in 1112. Later it was damaged by Jalal ad Din Mingburnu and Tamerlan, but was repaired by King Alexander I. Modern ruins of Sioni Chruch were left after the last damage was done by the Persians in 17th century. The ruins of the church preserved unique Georgian writings; historians haven’t been able to find common ground on the age of the writings.
Another interesting sightseeing place is graveyard of the church is graveyard with headstones shaped like animals. Today Smashvilde with its churches and ancient ruins is among the most off the beaten road, yet, interesting destinations in Georgia.