HISTORY OF KUTAISI

HISTORY OF KUTAISI

The Greek myths and historic writings mention the establishment of the city as dating back to the times of the reigns of Minos the King (17th – 15th BC). Inhabitants of the Ancient Greece found Minos, the king of Crete, and Aeëtes, the ruler of Colchis to be gods-alike. Kutaisi was described in the mythology as the city of Ai in Colchis, which was a destination for Iason and Arognauts looking for the Golden Fleece (have a look at the city’s coat of arms!)

Old Castle of Kutaisi in the mountain near Bagrati Cathedral

In 7th century Kutaisi became the capital of the Western Georgia, and after the country’s unification movement in during the reigns of Bagrat III in the latter part of 10th century became the administrative and cultural heart of the whole country, and its capital till 1222 AD.

In 1080 AD the city was invaded by the Turkish from the Ottoman Empire and got burnt. At this time David the Builder (Dawit Aghmasznebeli) of only sixteen years old became the king of Kutaisi. He made the unification of the nation much stronger, exiled the Ottoman invaders and moved the capital from Kutaisi to Tblilisi.

In 1225 AD After the time of economical, political and cultural blooming, Georgia and especially Tbilisi was again harassed by invaders of enemies’ armies, so Rusudan the Queen moved the capital back to Kutaisi. She did again in 1230, when the previous capital was concquered by the Mongolians.

Kutaisi quickly became a center of resistance against the Monoglian reigns.

In 14th AD Georgia was re-unified by Giorgi Brckinwale and when the latter part of 15th century brought the tensions between the central rulers and the dukes, Giorgi VIII, the king, was defeated nearby the city of Tshighori (in Imeretia region) by Bagrat, the leader of the Kutaisi district, who took the crown himself in 1463.

Since 15th century Kutaisi was the capital of Imeretia region. The division of the country to the kingdomes of Kartlia,Imeretia and Samcche – Saatabago was used by the Osmanian sultan in invading Georgia from both the west and the south. The chronicles mention that his armies set Kutaisi and Gelati Monastery on fire in 1510. The city was burnt and destroyed many times from then on during the fedual wars in 1637, 1647, 1651. Time after time, the city was rebuilt from ashes.

Mural one of the arts expresion that you can find in the Center of Kutaisi, Georgia

In the 60s of 17th century the Turkish once again made use of the unstable situation in Georgia and managed to conquer the castle of Kutaisi in 1666. Two years later the king’s steward – Bezian Lortkipanidze managed to defeat them, however just next year, in 1669, the castle and the city were invaded again.

The city was completely demolished and only a thousand of inhabitants survived the invasion. In 1691 the invaders torn the castle down along with the precious historical monument – the Bagarati Cathedral.

In December 1757 the Georgian army under the leadership of Solomon, the king of Imeretia, defeated the Osmanian in the Chresili valley, but Kutaisi had to wait another 13 years to get emancipated. So the city will become an important trade centre and its landmarks will get industrial.

In 1810 the kingdom of Imeretia got attached to the territory of Russia, and in 1848 Kutaisi became the center of the province. Since the 40s of 19th century the city started to develop and grow due to its growning trade and industrial importance.
In 1851 there was a second bridge built over the Rioni river – the White Bridge. Four years later, the peasants of Kutaisi got emancipated.

Kutaisi city view from the Cathedral

During the II World War the known factories in Kutaisi started to produce parts used for planes, tanks and mortars. After the war, the industrial sphere of the city kept developing, along with schooling and culture.

The economic crisis of the end of the first decade of 21th century made many of inhabitants of Kutaisi leave the city in a search of employment. The leaders of Georgia, wanting to suave the process, have been putting much effort in new investments and the cultural offer of the beautiful city.