The Price Of Independence

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Gori is so small that you really can’t walk around without passing Stalin every once in a while:

Stalin from the back

So today I walked past him, and I went through a few back alleys with some weird graffiti:


And then I reached the fortress:

Gori fortress

It was on a hill in the center of the town, and when I got close it became quite clear that it lay in ruins, just like Narikala Castle in Tbilisi:

detail of Gori fortress

As was to be expected, the only thing left were the walls:

inside Gori fortress

The view was pretty awesome, though:

mountain view in Gori

On my way back down I passed this tree that looked – upon first glance – as if a bunch of rubbish had been caught in its twigs. They were ribbons, though, good luck charms just like the ones I had seen in Iran a few months before:

lucky charms in a tree

I walked through the old part of Gori for a while:

Gori old town

And then I came to this wall:

the wall


These holes were made by bullets, and just a few years earlier:

The Price Of Independence

Back in 2008, when I was still walking through China, military forces that were supposedly not Russian had helped parts of Georgia gain their “independence”. During that process they had also invaded Gori.

Bombs had fallen. Many people had fled the city. Some had died (among them a Dutch journalist). And there were photos on the internet of not Russian soldiers looting TVs and furniture.

The occupants had stayed for a few days, then they had left, and life in Gori had moved on.

The bullet holes were still there, though:

bullet holes

Some of the buildings had completely new facades:

new facade

Others just had partly new walls:

new wall

It was easy to overlook the bullet holes if one had never noticed them before. Everything was so normal – there was laundry hanging out to dry in the backyards:


There were holiday decorations:

Christmas decoration

There was the town hall, which seemed a bit too big for the size of the city:

Gori city hall

And people were smiling happily for the camera:

happy dudes

Bullet holes are peculiar, though. Once they have been seen they can never be unseen again. I started noticing them everywhere. Next to balconies:

more bullet holes

Next to windows:

yet more bullet holes

Next to pawn shops:

bullet holes next to a pawn shop

And next to tanning salons:

bullet holes next to a tanning salon

This is what they look like from up close, by the way:

bullet hole

The forces that were not Russian had given Gori many of them.

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