Historical district of Dusheti
Residence of the Aragvi princes, administrative, commercial center of the region
Location and site
Dusheti is a small town in the East Georgia, 54 km North-East of the capital city Tbilisi. The town is located on the banks of the Dushetis-Khevi river at 900 m above sea level at the foothills of the Greater Caucasus.
Following the fall of Aragvi princes and devastation of the medieval town in mid-18th century, the historical quarter of Dusheti was rebuilt and extended in 19th century. The present urban fabric is mainly composed of the 19th and early 20th century residential buildings developed on a grid plan. The medieval history of the town is represented by the archaeological remains beneath the visible urban structure, late medieval “White palace” and the 9th century Church of St Grigol the Theologian, located at the outskirt of historical quarter.
What makes the town a distinguished architectural phenomenon are the residential houses of high artistic merit. Amongst these stands out an ancient dwelling, once owned by the Divanbegs (chief judges) and referred as the Apriloff’s Darbazi in the scientific literature. The mid-19th century house with wooden overhanging balconies incorporates a marvelous example of vernacular Georgian “Darbazi” dwelling of earlier period.
The 19th century introduced stylistic diversity into the urban fabric. The houses with traditional wooden openwork balconies, placed in the gardens or built along the street fronts, are influenced by the European styles: classicism, Art Nouveau, etc.
Dusheti has been of special importance due to the Geophysical Observatory established here in 1935 and the century-old tradition of drama theatre that was founded in the town in 1880.
- Dusheti is first mentioned in the historical sources in 1215, although the archaeological artifacts demonstrate that the place had been populated since Antiquity.
- In 1335-1743 Dusheti was one of the main seats of Aragvi Principals.
- In 1743 the rule of the Aragvi principals was overthrown by the peasants upraising. The last ruler – Bezhan Eristavi was killed by the rebels and the Principality was handed over to the King Theimuraz II.
- In 1801, following the annexation of Georgia to Russian empire, Dusheti was declared as a town and in 1802 – the administrative center of Dusheti District.
- In 1868-1873 the prominent Georgian statesman Ilia Chavchavadze worked and lived in Dusheti. The court building, where he worked, is still preserved.
- In 1985 the Zhinvali reservoir and hydroelectric plant was launched. As a consequence the new section of the Georgian Military Road was built and Dusheti was left aside of the strategic route previously crossing the town.