Telavi - Batonis Tsikhe (King Erekle II Museum)
The residence of Kakhetian kings of XVII-XVIII cc. The first structures - palace, church, bath and fortification – were built by King Archil in 1667-1675. In the second half of XVIII c. King Erekle II has erected new fortification construction with a red gate attachement and the second church.
The fence of "Batonis Tsikhe" is built from the mixture of the cobble-stone and lime. It fences approximately 3 ha. of land. The fence has the round merlons on it. From the side of the residence yard there is a foot path alongside the fencing. There are embrasures built in the fence. In the four corners of the fence there are 4 cylindrical 2 and 3 stored towers. The center of the fence on the southern part of the residence is moved forward. It was easier to control the enemy movement from such location. The total area of "Batonis Tsikhe" is divided into two - east and west - parts. The construction is preserved with the initial plan. The fence is renewed. The obverse facade of the fortification is inverted to the city area. The round towers, vaults of the red gate and niches, are characteristic for a feudal fortress of the late Middle Ages.
The entrance to the "Batonis Tsikhe" was from the east and west gates. The east gate is located near the south-east tower. The second store of the tower is arranged for living. The building has the arrow roofing and has the windows leading to the four sides of the building. There is a fire-place and a balcony in the building. The west gate is located in the center of the west wall. The gate is moved to the front of the fence and is higher than the fence. The gate has two stores. The first store is a simple entrance with the arch roofing. The gate has the stairs on the north and south sides that lead to the second store. The second store is the platform that is surrounded by the multi-merlon walls. There are embrasures built in these walls.
The center of an architectural complex is the palace. In ornating of a throne hall ("Saelcho Darbazi" - Ambassadors hall) with windows and niches is seen the influence of the Iranian architecture. The palace is the highest building among other buildings of the "Batonis Tsikhe" area. According to Vakhushti Batonishvili the construction was built at the end of 60-ies of XVII century by the King Archil. Later the construction was changed and rebuilt. In 1979-83 the construction was renewed again. The main part of the construction is "Saelcho Darbazi" (Ambassadors hall) that is surrounded by the corridor on the three sides (north, east, west) of the hall.
The palace is turned into the house-museum of King Erekle II. There you can observe the king’s living and bed rooms; the king’s sword and the throne.
The king’s bath house is built in the corner of the southern wall. It stands at some distance from the castle. The bath house building is not completely preserved. There are only bath pool and boiler room. The water was heated by the system installed under the floor of the building. The people used to call this bath "Erekle’s bath house".
There are two churches in the "Batonis Tsikhe" yard. The small one is called "Archilis karis church" (Archil’s palace church). During the renovation works in 1979-83, it was proved that the first church was built in approximately X-XI centuries, long before the King Archil ruled Kakheti. The church building was initially three boat basilica. The archeological excavations in the fortress area also prove the early dates of the church building. Also it should be mentioned, that all the buildings erected on the fortress area except this church are built on the cemetery, therefore we can assume that before the fortress was built, in the X-XI centuries there had been a cemetery with its own church on the area. Later, it seems that King Archil had built a castle and other buildings on the cemetery territory. The name of the early church is unknown for us.
The other church (Gvtismshobeli – The Virgin) on the "Batonis Tsikhe" area was built during the King Erekle II. It is one boat apse construction and has three doors: south, west and north. The walls are painted and there are crosses embroidered in the walls. There are embrasures under the roof. It means that the church was not built only for spiritual purpose but for the security purpose too.
There is a canon stand (a small hill, surrounded by the semi-circle wall with diameter of 14m) preserved in the south-west of the residence outside the main fortification. A canon was placed there for the fortress defence reason. Till the 40-ies of the XIX century the 7.5 m long cannon stood on the canon stand. King Erekle II looted this canon after the victory on Pasha Ali Khan in 1750.
There is also a tunnel in the "Batonis Tsikhe" construction complex, that is located in the north part of the area. It was built with the mixture of stone and lime. The tunnel leads to the spring.
Inside the fortress area there are a number of other buildings (like prison, school and other) that were constructed in the later period.