This fortress 66km north of Tbilisi is a classic example of beautiful old Georgian architecture in a beautiful location, enhanced by the Zhinvali Reservoir spreading out below. Within the fortress are two 17th-century churches, the larger of which, the Assumption Church, is covered with wonderful stone carving, including a large cross on every wall. The fortress belonged to the eristavis (dukes) of Aragvi, who ruled as far as the Tergi valley from the 13th to 18th centuries.
Inside the Assumption Church are vivid 17th- and 18th-century frescoes including a Last Judgement on the south wall. You can climb the tallest of the fortress towers for fine views: it was here that the last defenders were killed in 1739 when a rival eristavi set fire to Ananuri and murdered the Aragvi eristavi’s family.