GEORGIAN MILITARY ROAD
The famous Georgian Military Road runs through the Caucasus mountains: from Vladikavkaz in the north to Tiflis, in the south.
Tiflis came under Russian rule in 1801 and in 1846 the city became the capital of the Tiflis government. The route was already known in the 1st century BC and was both the trade route and the route for invaders from the north to Georgia. The Russians also constructed a real road and this happened between 1811 and 1864.
The road was also a tourist attraction during the tsarist period: Baedeker (edition 1914) describes it as 'one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world'. Baedeker mentions the outings of the Société Française des Transports Automobiles du Caucase. Between 15 April and 15 October one could make the trip from Tiflis and then arrived at the Grand-Hôtel in Vladikavkaz within 10 hours. The price was 20 rubles. The company also operated hotels along the route.
This picture and all pictures below on this page, if not mentioned otherwise: scanned about 300 dpi. Then set right and cut out, resized 25 % of this image and saved as jpg.
The address side of the card above. The picture is from Vladikavkas and the card is also send from Vladikavkas. The russian name ВЛАДИКАВКАЗЪ is mentioned on picture side and of course in the postmark.
Now the starting point of the route, Vladikavkaz, is the capital of the Russian Republic of North Ossetia. This city at the foot of the Caucasus is about 40 kilometers from the border with Georgia. The name means "Master the Caucasus" (Vladivostok: Master the East).
The card below is also sent from Vladikavkaz, ВЛАДИКАВКАЗЪ. On the address side, it is indicated in Russian and French that the card gives a picture of the Georgian Military Road at the 'Women's Tower' at Mtscheta.
The ancient city of Mtscheta is the historic capital of Georgia and is slightly above Tbilisi / Tiflis. Between the 3rd and the 5th century, the city was the capital of Caucasian Iberia, the ancient name for the Georgian kingdom of Kartli. In Mtscheta the Georgians went on to Christianity. In the battle between the Romans and Persians, the area became just a Persian province, but divided into 582. Tbilisi came under Persian authority and Mtschata came under Byzantine authority.
The address side of the card with the postmark of ВЛАДИКАВКАЗЪ [VLADIKAVKAS] and the indication in Russian and French that the card gives a picture of the Georgian Military Road at the 'Women's Tower' at Mtscheta.
The Georgian Military Road goes from Russian Vladikavkaz to Tiflis / Tbilisi and one passes by the military station Balta. The card with an image of this station is sent from МЛ...??. The postmark of ТИФЛИСЪ [TIFLIS], is a stamp in cross form, with the year marking 1904. These stamps were followed shortly afterwards by the well-known double ring stamps.
Balta is close to Vladikavkas. The entire route is also described in a book from 1888: The kingdom of Georgia / Oliver Wardrop. The book can be consulted online (or downloaded as an e-book) via www.gutenberg.org /ebooks/48403. On the map from this book (picture below), Balta is indicated at the beginning of the route.
Sights on the route are also Ananuri with a fortress and churches (66 km north of Tiflis) and Kazbegi, a village in a valley with Mount Kazbek (15 km from the Russian border). The previous name Kazbegi is better known than the current name Stepantsminda. The name Kazbegi owed the village to the poet Aleksandr Kazbegi (1848-1893). In 2006 the original name Stepantsminda returned: St. Stefan, a Georgian Orthodox monk, who built a hermitage here.
The road is 212 km long. Highlight is also the Jvani Pass, the highest point: 2379 meters. Tiflis, the terminus of the road, got the current name Tbilisi in 1936. The city is now the capital of independent Georgia.
After the death of Queen Tamar (1159-1213), the Golden Age of Georgia came to an end. The country - present-day Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and north-eastern Turkey - increasingly diverged. In 1555 the former kingdom is divided between the Persians and the Ottoman Empire. In the 18th century the Persian empire fell apart and the regions of Kartli and Kachetia formed another independent kingdom in East Georgia. Erekli II proclaimed himself king (1772). He belonged to the Bagriatoni family, the old royal family in the Golden Age. At his request the Kingdom became a Russian protectorate and in 1783 the treaty of Georgyevsk was signed between Georgia and Russia. This ended in the annexation in 1800. Russia will then also conquer the rest of present-day Georgia on the Persians and the Turks. In 1878 the whole of Georgia is under Russian authority.
After the Russian Revolution, Georgia became part of the Transcaucasian Federation, which declared itself independent on February 24, 1918. On 26 May 1918, the Democratic Republic of Georgia declared itself independent and the Federation was dissolved. In this period, Georgia issued its own stamps. At the beginning of 1921, Georgia was captured by the Red Army and the Georgian Soviet Republic was proclaimed. This Republic entered the Transcaucasian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic (TSFSR) in the Soviet Union in 1922. In 1936 Georgia became a separate Soviet republic within the Soviet Union.
On this card, sent to Belgium: showing the Georgian military route.
On the card the official name of the road is given in the caption as abbrevation: ВОЕННО-ГРУЗИНСКАЯ ДОРОГА [VOENNO-GRUZINSKAYA DOROGA], Military-Greorgian road. With 'view on the abyss'.
The postmark is somewhat unclear: ТИФЛИСЪ [TIFLIS].
Tiflis came under Russian rule in 1801 and from 1846 became the center of the Tiflis government. The city was the most important city in the central part of Russian Transcaucasia.
Below is a card from ТИФЛИСЪ, Tiflis to Venice. The postmark is a stamp in cross form, in use before the double ring stamps. On the image you can see the mountain Elbrus. This is the highest mountain in the Caucasus (and Russia and Europe), 5642 meters. The mountain is in Russia on the border with Georgia. There has been discussion: Europe or Asia? Now the Elbrus is considered as part of Europe. On the card you can see that this old volcano has two mountain peaks. The mountain belongs to the seven summits (seven summits): the highest mountains of every continent and the 'ultimate climbing bucket list'. Mount Kazbek, on the route of the Georgian Military Road at Kazbegi / Stepantsminda, is Georgia's third-highest mountain peak.
On this card to Dresden, sent from Tiflis in 1902, the center of Tiflis can be seen on the river Mtkvari. This river is the most important one in Transcaucasia: from Turkey (under the name Kura) the river flows via Tiflis (Georgian name Mtkvari) to the east, to the Caspian Sea. The river is then called - in Azerbaijan-Kür.
The Georgian name of Tiflis is Tbilisi - literally 'Hot spring source' - and in 1762 the city becomes the capital of the independent kingdom of Georgia. In 1795 the Persians conquered the city again and destroyed the whole city. If the city becomes Russian in 1801, it will be named Tiflis. The Georgian military road was built in 1799 by Russian soldiers. In 1801 the improvement of the top layer of the road began and this was completed in 1863. The road was of course important for the economic development of Transcaucasia or the South Caucasus, the area that compared Russia on the other side of the back of the Great Caucasus. The states of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan now lie in this area.
The road is not called 'Military Road' for nothing: the road was also of great importance in the Caucasus War. This war, between 1817 and 1864, consisted of a series of military actions by Russia to get the area under control. The Russian writers Mikhail Lermontov and Lev Tolstoy participated in this war. As a result of a poem, Lermontov was banished to the Caucasus in 1837. This provided the inspiration for his masterpiece A hero of our time (1840).
In this book, the Georgian Military Road is the background for the window story. On the route the nameless narrator meets the Russian officer Maksim Maksimich. This officer talks about Petsjorin, the protagonist. His personality is the red thread of the book: a portrait that consists of 'all the vices of our generation'. In the book many romantic descriptions of the mountains along the route.
Card to Belgium from Tiflis. Text in Esperanto. Under the image is written: Old Georgian fortress, destroyed by the Persians at the end of the 18th century. The standard double ring stamp from ТИФЛИСЪ, Tiflis, is used on the card.
On the route lies Kazbek and in Baedeker 1914 is recommended to spend the night in Kazbek: to see the beautiful sunrise the next morning. However, try to get a room in the post-station with a view of the mountain Kazbek. According to the myth, Prometheus was chained to this mountain.
This card has been sent from Kazbek. The postmark КАЗБЕКЪ [KAZBEK] is unfortunately somewhat unclear. On the image side of the map is also indicated the abbreviation В. Г. Д. : ВОЕННО-ГРУЗИНСКАЯ ДОРОГА [VOENNO-GRUZINSKAYA DOROGA], Military-Greorgian road, Military Georgian Road.
The bridge on the card is the Devil's Bridge in the Darial Gorge. The card goes to Pavlovsk.
Another nice card with a view on the mountsain Kasbek.
This card has a clear- and older- postmark of КАЗБЕКЪ [KAZBEK]. The postmark - 30 April 1909 - is the oldest type of a standard stamp: single ring with the date in three lines. In the postmark at the top of the place indication КАЗБЕКЪ [KAZBEK], with the indication of the Tiflis government. The designation at the bottom ends with ОТД [OTD], the abbreviation for Otedlenie, an subpostoffice. For this the indication Post-Telegraph.
The famous mountain Kazbek can also be found on a postage stamp of the Soviet Union: Mi. 3003. On the postage stamp are mountaineers for the Kazbek. Baedeker 1914 already describes how the Kazbek can best be climbed (with the recommended guides). Even now the mountain is popular with mountaineers: at the top you can see both the Black and the Caspian Sea.
Also an older postage stamp of Soviet Union is dedicated to the Georgian Military Road (Mi. 627)
The Soviet Union also has issued a beautiful postal stationary with the theme of this famous road. On the postal stationary, published 6 / I 1959, we see a piece of the Georgian Military Road.
On the envelope is also the postmark ТБИЛИСИ [TBILISI]: in 1936 the city got its old name again. In the right part of the postmark is an indication that I can not read after enlargement: I assume the name in Georgian script.
The Soviet Union has also issued a number of postcards -postal stationery- with images from this area.