Citadel on the Hill, originally uploaded by Wordyeti.

It was 105 degrees today, a reminder that I am in the quote-unquote Middle East (a little north of it, actually), where this time of year, the sun is beating down like a hammer. So I didn’t get out to take my customary stroll to acquaint myself with the local architecture, street signs or quirks here in Tbilisi. However, I did have an excellent lunch of walnut-based salads & other local delicacies, and from that restaurant, I just had to take a picture of this old fortress, built into the side of the steep hills in this long, narrow river valley.

This city is a study in contrasts – between the reminders of all the waves of history that have washed over this area, and the glass/steel structures of ultramodern hope for the future.

One thing I did note: I have seen no signs whatsoever of the former Soviet Union. Not even the torn-off stumps and twisted, rusted steel bolts that I saw in Moscow, Kiev and Astana, where the old Lenin/Marx/Stalin statues used to stand. Not even the chiseled-out and defaced hammer&sickle insignias in the walls.

Someone went to a great deal of effort to remove even the remnants of the Soviet era here.

UPDATE: I found this explanation of the Narikala Fortress on the local English-language news site The Messenger. Excerpt below:

The fortress was established in the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (i.e., “Invidious Fort”). It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later by King David the Builder (1089-1125). The Mongols renamed it “Narin Qala” (i.e., “Little Fortress”). Most of the extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and were subsequently demolished.

The ruins of the ancient boundary wall of the mother castle of Narikala still stand on the western ridge of Sololaki (in the Old Tbilisi district). The name Narikala first appeared in the 18th century, until then it was called simply Kala. In the 6th century King Dachi, son of legendary Georgian king Vakhtang Gorgasali, strengthened and widened the old castle on the site and the Kala castle thus became the most important defensive castle and royal residence in newly-founded Tbilisi. The citadel has several times been stormed by foreign invaders and many times restored by Georgians when they regained it.