The original fortress, constructed on a hilltop, was named Gori (meaning hill in English), and was mentioned in the Georgian chronicles as early as the VII century. Some historians believe that the fortress was built by Byzantine Caesar Heraclius to store ammunition battles against the Persians.
Just after the XI century the area became an active center for trade. According to some historians, this was due to David the Builder founding the town. Because of its geographical location, enemies frequently targeted the fortress, as conquering it enabled control of the whole Shida Kartli region. The fortress has been invaded many times and controlled by Ossetians, Iranians and Persians, amongst others. The stronghold has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt.
The current iteration of the fortress was built in 1774, during the reign of Erekle II, but was significantly damaged by an earthquake in 1920. The Stalin Museum includes the memorial house where Joseph Stalin (1879-1953) was born, a museum building with a tower, and Stalin’s personal train car he used to visit Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam. There are many unique exhibits displayed here, including personal belongings and collections of paintings, photos, films and other important historical artifacts.