|• Total||Approximately 20,000. With the numerous surrounding villages, 46,134|
|Time zone||Georgian Time (UTC+4)|
Akhaltsikhe (Georgian: ახალციხე, literally "new castle"; formerly known as Lomisa, Armenian: Ախալցխա, Turkish: Ahıska) is a small city in Georgia's southwestern region (mkhare) of Samtskhe-Javakheti. It is situated on the both banks of a small river Potskhovi, which separates the city to the old city in the north and new in the south. Meskhetian Turks also known as Meskheti Turks, and Akhaltsikhe / Ahiska Turks (Turkish: Ahıska Türkleri; Georgian: თურქი მესხები, t'urk'i meskhebi) are the ethnic Turks formerly inhabiting the Meskheti region of Georgia, along the border with Turkey. The Turkish presence in Meskhetia began with the Ottoman invasion of 1578, although Turkic tribes had settled in the region as early as the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
Today, the Meskhetian Turks are widely dispersed throughout the former Soviet Union (as well as in Turkey and the United States) due to forced deportations during World War II. At the time, the Soviet Union was preparing to launch a pressure campaign against Turkey and Joseph Stalin wanted to clear the strategic Turkish population in Meskheti who were likely to be hostile to Soviet intentions. In 1944, the Meskhetian Turks were accused of smuggling, banditry and espionage in collaboration with their kin across the Turkish border; nationalistic policies at the time encouraged the slogan: "Georgia for Georgians" and that the Meskhetian Turks should be sent to Turkey "where they belong". Approximately 115,000 Meskhetian Turks were deported to Central Asia and only a few hundred have been able to return to Georgia ever since but yet people still do not want them living there.
The city is first mentioned in the chronicles in the 12th century. In the 12th–13th centuries it was the seat of the Akhaltsikhelis, dukes of Samtskhe, whose two most illustrious representatives were Shalva and Ivane Akhaltsikheli (of Akhaltsikhe). From the 13th up to the 17th century the city and Samtkhe were governed by the feudal family of the Jaqelis. In 1576 the Ottomans took it and from 1628 the city became the centre of the Samtskhe Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire as "Ahıska". In 1828, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, Russian troops under the command of General Paskevich captured the city and, as a consequence of the 1829 Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), it was ceded to the Russian Empire as part of first Kutaisi and then Tbilisi governorates. In the old part of the city one can see an old fortress, castle and mosque, the old fortress of the Jakelis (13th–14th century), and St. Marine's Church. The hills nearby the city harbour the Sapara Monastery (10th–14th centuries).
According to the 2002 Census, the city's population with the many surrounding villages was 46,134. The city proper is currently estimated by locals to be about 20,000. In 2002 the majority were ethnic Georgians (28,473, or 61%), with minority of Armenians (16,879, or 37%).
Twin towns and sister cities
Akhaltsikhe is twinned with:
People associated with Akhaltsikhe
- Michel Tamarati (1858–1911), Georgian Catholic priest and historian
- Lusine Zakaryan (1937–1991), Soviet Armenian soprano singer
- Sergo Kobuladze (1909–1978), painter and illustrator
- Grégoire-Pierre Agagianian (1895–1971), Armenian Catholic cardinal
- Aghan Ephrikian (?-1840) Pasha and Governor
- Michael Aznavourian, father of Charles Aznavour
- Shalva Maglakelidze, plenipotentiary for the Russian Provisional Government and then for the government of Georgia in Akhaltsikhe (1917–1918)
- Stepan Malkhasyants, Armenian academician
- Giorgi Mazniashvili, governor general of Akhaltsikhe (1919–1920)
- Vakhtang V of Kartli fled to Ahiska, after a coup failure
- Vakhtang Tchutchunashvili (?-1668), usurper of Imereti throne, fled to Ahiska after being deposed
- Aram Ghanalanyan (1909–1983), Armenian philologist, folklorist, member of academy of sciences of Armenia
- Ahmed-Pasha Khimshiashvili (?-1836), Pasha of Ahiska
- Hovhannes Katchaznouni (1868–1938), first prime minister of Democratic Republic of Armenia
- Hakob Kojoyan (1883–1959), Soviet Armenian artist
- David Baazov, rabbi in Akhaltsikhe (1918)
- Palavandishvili family
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (December 2009)|
- 2002 Georgia Census. State Department of Statistics of Georgia. Retrieved on May 26, 2011
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Akhaltsikhe.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Akhaltsikhe.|