Nokalakevi - History and Facts | History Hit


Nokalakevi, Gakhomela, Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti, Georgia

An ancient city in Georgia, Nokalakevi contains remains from hundreds of years of ancient occupation and is best known for its massive Byzantine walls.

Amy Irvine

21 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Nokalakevi

Nokalakevi is a village and archaeological site in the Senaki region of Georgia. Tracing its roots as far back as the 8th century BC, the site contains remains from a number of cultures and civilisations.

History of Nokalakevi

Known during ancient times as Archaeopolis (meaning “ancient town”), the city was an important centre within the Kingdom of Colchis and was occupied throughout the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods and archaeological evidence has been found from all these cultures.

The city was the focal point of an intense struggle between Byzantine forces and those of the Persian Empire during the was these great power fought between 540-562 AD. The battle for Nokalakevi was chronicled by the Byzantine writer Procopius of Caesarea.

Nokalakevi today

Today visitors to the site can see a number of impressive remains, mostly dating back to the late-Roman and early-Byzantine period dating from the 4th to the 6th centuries AD. Chief among these are the remains of the massive Byzantine outer walls, built in the 6th century to resist Persian attack. Within this outer wall are the remains of two inner walls, dating to the previous two centuries.

Inside the defences are the ruins of the city’s citadel, a number of ancient churches – including the Church of the 40 Martyrs – and the small royal palace. Elsewhere within the Nokalakevi archaeological site you can find the remains of a Roman bathhouse as well as an underground defensive tunnel running under the river Tekhuri. Digs at the site have also revealed an ancient cemetery site, containing burials from throughout Nokalakevi’s period of occupation.

A small museum on the site gives more detail on the history of Nokalakevi as well as hosting various exhibits of artefacts found at Nokalakevi.

Getting to Nokalakevi

Nokalakevi village is located in the Senaki region, around 184 miles west of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. It’s best to travel by car. Nearby towns include Senaki (approximately 17 minutes / 9.7 miles to the south-west) or Kutaisi (approximately 1 hr 2 minutes / 32.6 miles to the east) – both via the Senaki-Nokalakevi-Bandza-Khoni road.