Nokalakevi (referred to as “Tsikhegoji” by Georgian chroniclers, and “Archaeopolis” by Byzantine writers) represented the most significant center of Western Georgia for nearly fifteen centuries. Archaeological studies prove that the first settlement emerged here at the turn of II-I millennium B.C. At the beginning of III с BC Kuji, the eristavi (ruler) of Egrisi and Svaneti, built a fortified town in Nokalakevi and gave it his name – Tsikhegoji or the fortress of Kuji. The society of Nokalakevi-Tsikhegoji was highly developed. It had close contacts with outer world, and especially with Greek city-states. From the IV century Nokalakevi-Tsikhegoji became the capital of the kingdom of Egrisi (Lazika). The new capital was rich in architectural monuments: palaces, “triupm hal arch”, churches. The city had baths and a water reservoir as well. All these constructions were built during the fourth-sixth centuries. The best preserved monument of the site is the Church of Forty Martyrs (VI c.). Its interior is adorned with murals of XVII – XVIII centuries. The city was overlooked by the fortified citadel, from where is a splendid view over the Colchian plain. Nokalakevi-Tsikhegoji was protected by three walls.
They were built in IV, V and VI centuries. Towers and the tunnel leading to the river represented a significant element of the defence system. Nokalakevi lost its importance and declined to a small village in the VI-VII centuries. Estableshed 1979. Museum-Reserve from 1988.