Ambrolauri is known from the 17th century when it served as one of the residences of the kings of Imereti. Of this royal complex, only the ruins of a church and a tower have survived. In 1769, the Imeretian king Solomon I granted this locale to the prince Zurab Machabeli who erected a tower there, which is now known as the "Machabeli tower". Ambrolauri was officially granted the status of town in 1966. It was damaged by the 1991 Racha earthquake.