Citizens’ Rehabilitation of the Tsiskarauli Tower

Over three years, international volunteers worked with the local community to restore the Tsiskarauli Tower, a remote monument which was at risk of collapse. The project has brought much-needed attention to the isolated mountain community of Khevsureti, and had significant impact at both local and international levels in raising awareness of the value of Georgian heritage.

Citizens’ Rehabilitation of the Tsiskarauli Tower, Akhieli, GEORGIA

The International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) was the lead partner, working in close collaboration with the National Trust of Georgia and REMPART (France). The project was supported by a grant from ALIPH – the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas.

The mediaeval watchtower in the Caucasus Mountains witnessed wars, occupations and migrations over the centuries, and was severely damaged in 2001 by a Russian missile during the Second Chechen war. 46 Georgian and international citizens worked alongside technical experts and traditional craftspeople to restore the tower, which is now a model for the rehabilitation of Georgian defensive architecture.

As well as learning new skills in stonemasonry and path building, participants experienced one another’s intangible heritage, thus showing the peacebuilding capacity of collective restoration. The work has also raised the profile of volunteering in Georgia and provided sought-after opportunities for young people to engage with their heritage, building local pride and identity.

Citizens’ Rehabilitation of the Tsiskarauli Tower, Akhieli, GEORGIA

Alongside the tower’s stabilisation, a large focus of this project was knowledge sharing and capacity building within the National Trust of Georgia. Over two secondments in France and the UK, the staff of the National Trust of Georgia learnt from English and French models of volunteerism, and about the stewardship of remote heritage sites.

The project faced many challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a major landslide. Against all odds, the Tsiskarauli Tower carries a new, positive layer of history, marked by international collaboration.

The site now welcomes tourists who seek to understand this region’s multilayered history via a new walking route. They can read about the tower’s history on interpretative panels, see the remains of the Russian missile, learn of its restoration, and explore the surrounding villages.


The Citizens’ Rehabilitation of the Tsiskarauli Tower embodies excellence in heritage conservation through a holistic approach, integrating the restoration of built heritage, community engagement, international collaboration, and capacity-building, following the severe damage to the monument caused by a Russian missile fired during the Second Chechen war. Engaging in a broader network and consortium, the project provided a platform for the exchange of knowledge and culture”, the Awards’ Jury  commented.

The use of traditional materials and techniques has enhanced the authenticity of the work, while community engagement, involving locals, international volunteers, and the diaspora has created a sense of stewardship. The project has served as a catalyst for international cultural relations, peace, and trust building, demonstrating the power of heritage-led collaboration in overcoming conflict and rehabilitating local communities”, the Jury concluded.

Contact: Marine Mizandari, The National Trust of Georgia | |