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Gori war museum

  
  (   if you can read Russian)  - darkometer rating:  4 -
 
Gori war museum 02 - entranceA small museum in the Georgian town of Gori, which is better known for its large Stalin Museum. But this smaller counterpart is also worth a look when in town.

>What there is to see

>Location

>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

>Photos

  

What there is to see: This is an old school, very Soviet war museum, so expect relics from the communism era and especially the Great Patriotic War, better known in the rest of the world as World War Two.
  
There are photos of the Nazis' reign of terror during Germany's invasion of the USSR, including gory ones (or should that be "gori" ones?) of executions and mass graves. A very poignant artefact is a steel helmet with various bullet holes in it.
 
Otherwise the exhibition is mostly celebratory of the heroic achievements of the Red Army. Lots of medals are on display, also models and/or photos of various monuments, including the grandest of them all at Volgograd. One display cabinet is full of Nazi insignia, probably war "souvenirs" of returning Red Army soldiers … you don't see such collections of swastikas a lot in the West …
 
Larger exhibits include a few mortars and guns, uniforms as well as several large (typically red) ceremonial flags hanging from the walls. A side room is mainly filled with portrait photos, presumably of dead "heroes". Many a document on display remains rather obscure, while some of the caricatures displayed are more eloquent, even without words.
 
This being in Gori, pride of place goes to a slightly larger than life-size marble statue of Stalin at the far end of the main hall overlooking it all. Interestingly, I also spotted a small (maybe 20 inches tall) golden statue of Stalin standing on a mantelpiece in the museum wardens' office.
 
The part that is probably of most interest to the dark tourist in Gori, however, is the small new section near the entrance: this is about the 2008 war that Georgia fought with Russia over South Ossetia. Gori was one of the places on the territory of Georgia that the Russian military shelled from the air and that was even briefly occupied by Russian troops.  
 
There's a wall of photos showing the destruction in Gori, including civilian casualties. Neatly folded uniforms in display cabinets in front of the photos are presumably of soldiers who died in the war.
 
The labelling in the museum is in Georgian and Russian only, so without any understanding of either language, much of the information will not be decipherable – but the images and artefacts are often self-explanatory enough.
 
In the section about the 2008 war with Russia, labels are in Georgian only – naturally, as you would expect, as a political gesture, but it is a bit unfortunate for the foreign visitor who doesn't know the language. You do get the feeling, though, that this is primarily a shrine for locals in any case. One should therefore also be careful to show respect. The two ladies who tended the museum when I was there, actually added some flower arrangements to this part of the museum as I was getting ready to leave. They looked very sombre indeed as they went about their work. Clearly, the recent emotional wounds sustained in this war are still rather fresh.  
 
I have found hardly any kind of reference to this museum, neither in guidebooks, on tripadvisor (or similar such sites) nor on maps, although it does get a brief mention on WikiTravel. I just happened upon it by chance on the walk back from the Stalin Museum towards the main square. And I'm glad I found it. It's certainly worth a look when in Gori, as a kind of supplement to the famous main sight. Especially, now that plans of a section about the 2008 war at the Stalin Museum appear to have been abandoned, this little war museum is about the only thing in Gori that will remind you of those more recent dark events.
 
 
Location: in the centre of Gori, just a quarter of a mile (400m) south from the Stalin Museum on the main Stalin Avenue, just a couple of blocks up from the main square.
 
Google maps locator:[41.98412,44.1119]
  
 
Access and costs: easy to find near the Stalin Museum, and much cheaper.
 
Details: Just walk down Stalin Avenue on the western side heading south to Stalin Square and the bridge over the river; look out for a small square on the right hand side with a small war memorial monument at the far end. The entrance to the war museum is right next to it, on the southern side of the little memorial plaza, through a simple granite portal and wooden doors.
 
There was no information about opening times – I just found it open at the time I was there, which was a Saturday afternoon in summer. I would presume that it has the usual off times, most likely Monday, possibly also closing for lunch, and it may not open so early in the day.
 
Admission: 3 GEL, i.e. much less than what they charge at the Stalin Museum (but not free – as the WikiTravel entry claims).
 
 
Time required: Depends on whether or not you can read any Russian. If so, you may spend 30-45 minutes here. If not, you'll probably just have a look at the artefacts that more or less speak for themselves and be out again in 10 minutes or so.
 
 
Combinations with other dark destinations: Obviously, the main dark sight in Gori is the grandiose Stalin Museum, which is likely to be the main (if not only) reason for most tourists to come here in the first place. Most people will make it here as a day trip from Tbilisi. For yet more see under Georgia in general.
 
 
Combinations with non-dark destinations: See under Gori.
 
 
 
  • Gori war museum 01 - war memorial outsideGori war museum 01 - war memorial outside
  • Gori war museum 02 - entranceGori war museum 02 - entrance
  • Gori war museum 03 - a small Stalin in the officeGori war museum 03 - a small Stalin in the office
  • Gori war museum 04 - main hallGori war museum 04 - main hall
  • Gori war museum 05 - WWII horrorsGori war museum 05 - WWII horrors
  • Gori war museum 06 - StalingradGori war museum 06 - Stalingrad
  • Gori war museum 07 - helmet full of holesGori war museum 07 - helmet full of holes
  • Gori war museum 08 - yet another Stalin statueGori war museum 08 - yet another Stalin statue
  • Gori war museum 09 - WWII souvenirsGori war museum 09 - WWII souvenirs
  • Gori war museum 10 - mortar and lots of heroesGori war museum 10 - mortar and lots of heroes
  • Gori war museum 11 - photos of the Russian attack 2008Gori war museum 11 - photos of the Russian attack 2008
  • Gori war museum 12 - presumably a martyrGori war museum 12 - presumably a martyr
  • Gori war museum 13 - more recent war casualtiesGori war museum 13 - more recent war casualties
  

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