Ardanuç Kalesi

Far Northeast

This ruined fortress-citadel is a very dramatic sight, sat impregnably on top of a crag formed by soaring sheer rockfaces that rise from a hilltop on the nothwestern edge of Ardanuç town. Rather than attempting a potentially dangerous ascent of the crag, drive on up the steep, narrow approach lane, continuing around 1km beyond the first hilltop plateau, then look back to view the ruins with a thrilling, mountain backdrop.

With this unassailable castle as its defence, Ardanuç (then Ardanuji) became the capital of 9th-century Iberian (Georgian) King Ashot I who was buried here in AD 830, later to be canonised by the Georgian Church for his battles against the Arabs.

Ardanuç is around 40km southeast of Artvin. After crossing the long Bertaçay Bridge, the route intersperses tunnels with fine vistas across the long reservoir lake, then enters town after traversing a forbidding stretch of narrow canyon.