Vani Jewish Cemetery

Cemetery Information

Vani Municipality
Site address
The cemetery is located on Otar Lortkipanidze Street, near the bridge above the Chishura river. Drive 170 meters from the town's main square via O. Lordkipanidze Street (Vani-Zeda Vani road) towards Vani Archaeological Museum. The cemetery is on the right immediately after crossing the river.
GPS coordinates
42.084226, 42.509684
Perimeter length
387 metres
Is the cemetery demolished
Type and height of existing fence
It is fenced with two types of fencing – a concrete block wall and metal mesh, both about 1.5 meters in height.
Preservation condition
Fenced and protected Jewish cemetery
General site condition
The cemetery is well-preserved and fenced. Sometimes domestic animals from neighboring houses enter its territory.
Number of existing gravestones
Date of oldest tombstone
Date of newest tombstone
Urgency of erecting a fence
Fence is not needed
Land ownership
Preserved construction on site
There are three ohel-like iron constructions.
Drone surveys

Historical overview

Vani’s Jewish cemetery is located on the bank of Chishura river, near the town centre, about 500 metres from the synagogue. It was established in the 19th century, and according to Nisan Babalikashvili who has worked with epitaphs from the Vani cemetery, there are burials from 1885. The last burial in the Vani cemetery took place in 1989. Vani is located in the Imereti region in Western Georgia, about 41 km south-west from Kutaisi. The town’s history dates back to ancient times. According to archaeological data, settlement in the Vani area already existed in the 6th century BC.

Jews were living in Vani from the end of the 18th century. The proximity of Kutaisi and Kulashi as well as their established Jewish communities suggests that Vani Jewry could be connected with the two centres. The Jewish district in Vani is in the town centre, and the proximity of the Jewish cemetery to the town centre suggests that the cemetery was in use from the early period of the contemporary town’s development. The Chishura river, which crosses Vani’s town centre, flows into the Rioni, the main river in Western Georgia. The Rioni links the Black Sea (Poti) with Kutaisi and the region of Racha-Lechkhumi. The river is partially navigable, which made it an historical trading route. According to the documents of the USSR’s Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults, the synagogue in Vani was built in 1911. The building, with an area of 180 square metres, was made of stone and brick and, in the mid-20th century, about 160 people were attending the synagogue on the religious holidays and about 60 people attended more regularly. Shabtai Tsur, a Georgian-Jewish politician and diplomat who twice served as Israel’s ambassador to Georgia, was born in Vani in 1951, and one of the main streets of Vani was named after him.