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Georgia

Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument

A cylinder monument with a spectacular vista commemorates a friendship that some say never existed. 

The Treaty of Georgievsk between the Russian Empire and the east Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti in 1783 established Eastern Georgia as a protectorate of Russia. The king swore allegiance to the Russian emperor in return for protection and the support for the reigning Bagrationi dynasty. Just a few years later however, these promises proved worth very little. 

In 1795, when the Persian ruler Agha Mohammad Khan plundered the Georgian kingdom, the Russians did nothing to help. Their declaration of war on Persia and the deployment of troops to Transcaucasia came too late. It marked the beginning of years of tension between the neighboring nations. 

Nevertheless, the Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument was erected by the Soviets in 1983 in the mountains of northern Georgia. The famous Georgian architect Giorgi designed it and placed it on a spot offering a spectacular view over the surrounding landscape.

The Soviet Union spent the year celebrating the bicentennial of the Treaty of Georgievsk. Several monuments were built to commemorate the treaty, but not everyone was happy with the festivities. Anti-Soviet Georgians held protests, and the underground publication Sakartvelo devoted a special issue which emphasized Russia’s disregard of the treaty.

The massive round “friendship” monument still looks out over Devil’s Valley and the Caucasus Mountains. It is situated on the Georgian Military Highway between Gudauri, which is considered the best ski resort in Georgia, and Gergeti, where you can find the Gergeti Trinity Church.

Inside the cylinder monument, a vibrantly colored mural depicts heavily stylized scenes from Georgian and Russian histories. Stone archways open up to Devil’s Valley, and offer an idyllic view for visitors, even if the name is potentially misleading.