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Patsa (river)

The bride across the Patsa at Didi Gupta
Native name
Physical characteristics
SourceRacha Range
 • locationErtso Pass
 • coordinates42°28′10″N 43°46′49″E / 42.4694°N 43.7803°E / 42.4694; 43.7803
 • location
Didi Gupta
 • coordinates
42°21′21″N 43°54′19″E / 42.3558°N 43.9053°E / 42.3558; 43.9053
Length17 km
Basin size220 km2
Basin features
River systemGreat Liakhvi
 • leftSaritata
 • rightKeshelta
BridgesDidi Gupta Bridge

The Patsa is a river located entirely in the partially recognized Caucasian Republic of South Ossetia,[a] forming a river valley, and being one of the Republic's defining geographic features, as well as providing water for irrigation for the Znaur District, the Republic's bread basket.


The river originates in the Racha Range near the Ertso Pass, on the border of Shida Kartli and Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, and runs southwards, concurrently with the Kudar Valley.[b] The Valley is known for its large number of caves and rock structures. Settlements along the river include Kemulta, where the Keshelta merges into the Patsa, Kotano, Sokhta and Nazigini, where the Saritata River merges into the Patsa. The river then continues to Bakhuta, Siukata, Ugardanta, Shikhanturi and Fatsa before it merges into the Liakhvi River at Didi Gupta.


In 1892 a German engineer surveyed the Patsa river valley as a route for a imperial railroad, although the route was ultimately never constructed.[1]

In 1991 an earthquake caused a landslide in the Patsa River Valley which resulted in the Patsa being dammed for 10 years.[2] The degrading barrier lake eventually naturally transitioned into an alluvial barrier basin by 2001 allowing the free flow of the river again.[2]

The bridge across the Patsa at Didi Gupta is one of the most important pieces of infrastructure in South Ossetia, as it is the only connection from Java to Tskhinvali.[3] As such, during both the 1991 and 2008 wars, the Georgian army targeted the bridge, since it was the only route for the Russian army to reach Tskhinvali and the rest of Georgia from South Ossetia.[4]


  1. ^ Most of the United Nations recognizes South Ossetia as part of Georgia, occupied by Russia
  2. ^ Also known as the Patsa river valley


  1. ^ Freshfield, Douglas William; Sella, Vittorio (1896). "The exploration of the Caucasus". Internet Archive. London ; New York : E. Arnold. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  2. ^ a b Ovsyuchenko, A. N.; Marakhanov, A. V.; Lar’kov, A. S.; Novikov, S. S. (November 2014). "Late quaternary dislocations and seismotectonics of the Racha earthquake source, the Greater Caucasus". Geotectonics. 48 (6): 440–458. doi:10.1134/S0016852114050057. Retrieved 1 April 2024.
  3. ^ "Georgia Situation Report No.15". ReliefWeb. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
  4. ^ Toal, Gerard (2017). Near Abroad: Putin, the West and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus. pp. 166–197. Retrieved 2 April 2024.
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Patsa (river)
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