Modern Ossetians call the city Tskhinval (leaving off the final "i", which is a nominative case ending in Georgian). In colloquial Ossetian, it is often called Chreba (Ossetian: Чъреба).
Tskhinvali was first chronicled by Georgian sources in 1398 as a village in Kartli (central Georgia). By the early 20th century, Tskhinvali had developed into a commercial town with a mixed Georgian Jewish, Georgian, Armenian and Ossetian population. During the Soviet era, the town became largely Ossetian due to intense urbanisation and Soviet nativization policy which induced an inflow of the Ossetians from the nearby rural areas into Tskhinvali. It was essentially an industrial centre, with lumber mills and manufacturing plants, and had also several cultural and educational institutions such as a Pedagogical Institute (now Tskhinvali State University) and a drama theatre.
During the 2008 Russian-Georgian War, Tskhinvali was shelled by the Georgian government on in an attempt to regain control over the South Ossetia. After the bombings, the Georgian army invaded the city .The Russian army responded on the following day by moving its own forces into the city, which was captured by the Russian army after intense fighting. 160-360 civilians died during the Battle of Tskhinvali.
The town was heavily damaged during the battle. The old Jewish Quarter, one of the town's unique neighbourhoods, and its main residential district were completely destroyed.
Citizens of any state can come to Tskhinval only from the Russian side. Crossing the border with Georgia is impossible in either direction. Pretty much the only way to get to Tskhinvali is to travel south of Vladikavkaz, the main city of North Ossetia in Russia.
From Russia, you can get to Tskhinval along the only highway - the Transcaucasian highway.
Buses (marshrutkas) run from Vladikavkaz to Tskhinval several times a day. Numerous taxis also run along this route.
The nearest airport is in Vladikavkaz.
Tskinvali's city center is compact, and easily covered on foot.
The city contains several monuments of medieval Georgian architecture, with the Kavti Church of St. George being the oldest one dating back to the 8th–10th centuries.
- The main government building. A large neoclassical Italianate building, home to the separatist government, which is the main landmark in the city.
- Monument to the victims of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict.
- Statue of Abaity Vasoiy (Абайты Васойы).
- Statue of Khetagkaty Kostaiy (Хетæгкаты Къостайы).
There are many cafes in the city, but the choice of food is small. There are also many kiosks where you can buy hot Ossetian pies.
- Hotel Alania (guest house), street June 8, 4 lane house 29. Tel 89298090979, 89298114181. 800-1500 rubles (Nov 2018). Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a place for cars.
Tskhinvali has long been the safest destination in South Ossetia to visit. The calm has returned in the region (although that does not mean that it is suitable for tourism).
Unexploded ordnance may be found on the outskirts of the city. It is better not to leave roads and paths.
While the bloody conflicts have ended, the situation in the city is far from ideal. The health system is dilapidated in Tskhinvali: Basic medical supplies, plumbing, to name a few are very short in supply owing to a failing infrastructure that has been damaged during years of warfare. Be sure to bring the necessary medical equipment with you, and only drink bottled water.
- Back to Russia. The border between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia remains closed as of March 2021.