Tao-Klarjeti (historical region)

Tao-Klarjeti (Georgian: ტაო-კლარჯეთი, romanized: t'ao-k'larjeti) is a Georgian and Armenian historical and cultural region in north-eastern Turkey. The region is based around two river basins - Chorokhi and Kura (Mtkvari), and also partially includes the upper source of the Aras river. In modern usage it most often denotes the territory that was administrated or claimed by Georgian Democratic Republic but is nowadays part of Turkey due to the Soviet-Turkish deal in 1921.

Map of modern Tao-Klarjeti, region Georgia lost in 1921
RegionWestern Asia

The term "Tao-Klarjeti" is based on the names of two most important provinces of the region — Tao and Klarjeti.[1] The term is equivalent to “Zemo Kartli” (i.e., Upper Kartli or Upper Iberia) and is also a synonym for historical Meskheti.[2]

Cultural and historical heritageEdit

In the 9th century, under the auspices of the Georgian Bagratids, Tao-Klarjeti saw a revival of monastic life. Georgians, who made up the majority of the population north of Tao, were gradually moving south. Igor Dorfman-Lazarev notes that they discovered a number of monasteries abandoned by Armenians in the 8th century and reconstructed them; many new houses were built.[3] Stephen H. Rapp notes that in this “new Kartli”, the Kartvelian migrants encountered the large Armenian population already living there. A cultural exchange took place between the two peoples.[4]

Many important Georgian cultural monuments from the middle ages are located on the territory of Tao-Klarjeti and many of them are preserved as ruins. Several monuments of medieval Georgian architecture – abandoned or converted churches, monasteries, bridges and castles – are scattered across the area.

Best known are the monasteries of Khandzta, Khakhuli, Ancha, the churches of Oshki, Ishkhani, Bana, Parkhali, Doliskana, Otkhta Eklesia, Opiza, Parekhi and Tbeti.



  1. ^ Mikaberidze, Alexander (February 6, 2015). Historical Dictionary of Georgia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 625. ISBN 978-1442241466.
  2. ^ Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994). The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0253209153.
  3. ^ Louth, Andrew; Casiday, Augustine (2006). Byzantine Orthodoxies: Papers from the Thirty-sixth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Durham, 23-25 March 2002. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 180. ISBN 0754654966.
  4. ^ Rapp, Stephen H. (2003). Studies in Medieval Georgian Historiography: Early Texts and Eurasian Contexts. Peeters Publishers. pp. 13–14. ISBN 9042913185.
  • (in Georgian) "Tao-Klarjeti". (2006) Valeri Silogava and Kakha Shengelia. Caucasian University Press, Tbilisi. ISBN 99940-861-7-0