We left this morning to return to Tblisi. We stopped in Gori, the site of the museum dedicated to Josef Stalin. We visited Stalin’s private train car and the home in which he was born, both of which were on site. Stalin was afraid of flying and always traveled by train in which he was the only one allowed to use the toilet or have a chair with arms. He did have two additional sleeping rooms for secretary or family, but all the facilities on board were very sparse.
His birthplace proved to be a rented room over his father’s cobbler shop. This stop was very difficult for the members of our group and was short. It is important always to be aware of history but difficult to view any honor paid to Stalin. Cathi Smith related that Mary Pomeroy, one of the Delegation’s founding members, had lunch several years ago with Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, after she defected to the U.S.
Our second stop was to visit a sandstone cave city, Uplistsikhe (meaning the Lord’s Castle). It lies near the town of Cory and requires 91 steps to ascend to the site and 80 to descend. It was built during the 4th century BCE.
The residents of Uplistsikhe honored pagan gods until the 14th century when a small church was erected. There is evidence of a three-tiered society. Servants, those who served the priests, and the nobility all lived here but in very separate sections. There is still evidence of the wine preparation area, burial area, jail, high priest’s throne, sacrificial animal altars, and living quarters. The views across the valley as well as the site itself were spectacular.
We arrived in Tblisi that evening and stayed overnight.
[Darlene Miller, Recorder]