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Ananuri & Gudauri, Georgia

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Ananuri. Much could be said about the beauty of this place, now much different than it once was.

Built in 13th century, the castle sits on a steep hill, overlooking the Zhinvali reservoir. The castle and church are well preserved, with a number of frescoes on the walls and columns inside. It still serves as a place of worship for locals and visitors. Though the reservoir–when it was constructed–drowned a number of small villages, it is easy to imagine the thick forest that likely covered the bottom of this lush river canyon, at the confluence of the White and Black Aragvi rivers. Just beyond, large Caucasian mountains loom, their perennial melts filling the valleys with rushing water.

Inside the Ananuri fortress was great adventure, the steep stone stairways unguarded and beckoning. I climbed to the top of the fortress, where I could see nothing–the turret was closed in by a curtain wall. My friend Guga told me that many of these old castles had secret passages–tunnels–that led to the river. A protected path that allowed for escape and unbothered ingress and egress.

After playing midieval wargames in our heads–being mindful of the high falls we could take off the narrow pathways–we departed for Gudauri.

Gudauri didn’t have much snow, but it’s beauty was stunning. I plan to return sometime to ski and enjoy some high alpine lines.

Nikon D800, AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

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