Vardzia (Georgian: ვარძია) is a cave monastery site in southern Georgia, excavated from the slopes of the Erusheti Mountain on the left bank of the Kura River, thirty kilometres from Aspindza. The main period of construction was the second half of the twelfth century. The caves stretch along the cliff for some five hundred meters and in up to nineteen tiers. The Church of the Dormition, dating to the 1180s during the golden age of Tamar and Rustaveli, has an important series of wall paintings. The site was largely abandoned after the Ottoman takeover in the sixteenth century. Now part of a state heritage reserve, the extended area of Vardzia-Khertvisi has been submitted for future inscription on the UNESCO. Khertvisi fortress (Georgian: ხერთვისის ციხე) is one of the oldest fortresses in Georgia and was functional throughout the Georgian feudal period. It is situated in Southern Georgia, in Meskheti region. The fortress was first built in the 2nd century BC. The church was built in 985, and the present walls were built in 1354. As the legend says, Khertvisi was destroyed. In the 10th-11th centuries it was the center of Meskheti region. During the 12th century it became a town. In the 13th century Mongols destroyed it and until the 15th century it lost its power. In the 15th century it was owned by Meskheti landlords from Jakeli family. In the 16th century the southern region of Georgia was invaded by Turks. During next 300 years they have owned Khertvisi too. At the end of the 19th century Georgian and Russian army returned the lost territories and Khertvisi became the military base for Russian and Georgian troops. Khertvisi fortress is situated on the high rocky hill in the narrow canyon at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Paravani Rivers.