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Tbilisi


Tbilisi commonly known by its former name Tiflis, and often mispronounced as Tiblisi, is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Mtkvari River at the altitude of 400m above sea level with a population of roughly 1.5 million inhabitants.

 

Was founded by King Vakhtang Gorgasali in the fifth century, and continues to be the most important political and cultural center of the country.

Located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Tbilisi's proximity to lucrative east-west trade routes often made the city a point of contention between various rival empires throughout history and the city's location to this day ensures its position as an important transit route for global energy and trade projects. Tbilisi's varied history is reflected in its architecture, which is a mix of medieval, classical, Middle Eastern, Art Nouveau, Stalinist and Modernist structures.

 

One widely accepted variant of the legend of Tbilisi's founding states that King Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Georgia went hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon. The King's falcon allegedly caught or injured a pheasant during the hunt, after which both birds fell into a nearby hot spring and died from burns. King Vakhtang became so impressed with the hot springs that he decided to cut down the forest and build a city on the location. The name Tbilisi derives from Old Georgian T'pilisi, and further from T'pili. The name "T'pili" or "T'pilisi" (literally, "warm location") was therefore given to the city because of the area's numerous sulphuric hot springs that came out of the ground.

In fact the real story of the city is different. The fact that here was founded first a fortress and after a town was determined by its strategic location and landscape - narrow gorge of Mtkvari River surrounded by rocky hills. Contrary to former capital of Georgia, Mtskheta, which is situated on a more wide and open terrain and was more difficult to protect. So, better protection due to its landscape, made Tbilisi a town and afterwards the capital of Georgia.

Archeological excavations prove that in place of Tbilisi, settlements existed back in bronze age. Tbilisi as a fortress dates back to 4th century A.D. After King Vakhtang made it a capital the fortress was expanded and town started growing.

In the beginning of 7th century, for the first time, Tbilisi turned under the ruling of Byzantine Empire. Since then it was ruined and rebuilt 40 times in total. The longest ruling in Tbilisi was by Arabs from 7th to 12th centuries.

After collapse of Byzantine Empire, Tbilisi was not on the Silk road any more. In 18th century Persians for the last time invaded the capital and this was the hardest times in history of town. In 19th century Tbilisi was ruled by King’s Russia.

NEW -Tbilisi Free Walking Tour

If you have some time and would like to explore Tbilisi through a guided tour, there is a company which offers a free daily Tbilisi tour: http://tbilisifreewalkingtour.com/
The tours are run in English and Russian languages every single day of the year regardless of public holidays and weather conditions.
The tour typically lasts 3,5 hours and starts from Freedom square every day at 12:00 and 17:00.
There is no fixed charge and the guides work on tips only basis.

For more information please visit the website above or contact:
tbilisifreewalkingtour@gmail.com
+995 557 689 20


Architecture

The architecture in the city is a mixture of local (Georgian) and Byzantine, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau, Beaux-Arts, Middle Eastern, and Soviet Stalinist architectural styles. The oldest parts of town, including the Abanot-Ubani, Avlabari, and to a certain extent the Sololaki districts clearly have a traditional Georgian architectural look with Near Eastern influences. The areas of downtown Tbilisi which were built or expanded mainly in the 19th century (Rustaveli Avenue, Vera district, etc.) have a chiefly Western European look, but they nevertheless contain individual examples of European pseudo-Moorish architecture, such as the Tbilisi Opera.

 

Narikala Fortress

The initial fortress inside the gates was ruined after an explosion in year 1827. The current church was built in 20th century as a replica of Metekhi Church.  

 

Metekhi Bridge

The first bridge in town was built on place of Metekhi bridge. The story connected with this bridge is pretty tragic: in 13th century when the city was devastated by Jalal ed Din, on this bridge a christian icon was placed and city population was requested to walk over the icon and renounce –°hristianity. Historians assume that approximately 100 000 inhabitants were decapitated and thrown into Mtkvari River after refusing to fulfill the request of invaders.

 

Mother of Georgia (Kartlis Deda)

A statue of a woman holding sword in one hand and wine vessel in another was built in soviet times and symbolizes Georgian mother’s readiness to welcome guests (with wine) and fight the enemies (with sword).

 

Metekhi Church

Was built in second half of 13th century. Before its current state there was a small church which was destroyed by Mongols in 1235. Although it was damaged by invaders many times, Metekhi church maintained its initial state. It was thoroughly renovated in 17-18 centuries. It is worth mentioning that during Russian rule in the church yard a jail was situated for revolutionary prisoners and even Stalin has spent some time in that jail. During soviet times Metekhi church served as a theatre.

The structure of the church is cross domed which was standard architecture for Georgian churches in middle ages.

In general this is how church architecture developed in Georgia: in 5-6th centuries basilicas and three nave basilicas were built. In 6-7th centuries cross domed churches took over and since 11 - 12th centuries bigger, also cross domed, cathedrals.

 

Abanotubani (Bath District)

Here you will find hot springs which defined the name and reason why Tbilisi was founded.

The sulphur water here is constantly 47 degrees and everyday approximately 3 million liters are surfaced. The domed bathhouses were built in 17-18 centuries. Tbilisi bathhouses were famous for centuries. Many famous people and writers have visited and mentioned them.

USEFUL TIP!
Don't miss the chance to enjoy the bathhouses and the massage you can get there.
The most famouse one is Gulo's Bathouse, we recomend booking in advance!
Adress:
5 Grishashvili Str., Tbilisi.
Tel: (+995) 599 588 122;
Email: info@thermal.ge;
Web: www.thermal.ge

 

Synagogue

People of different religions live in Tbilisi, especially in the old town, this is proven by the fact that so many different religious institutions are situated in a small area: Mosque, Synagogue, numerous Orthodox churches.

It’s also a well known fact that Georgian and Jewish people have lived peacefully and friendly for many centuries. This synagogue was built in 17th century and lately renovated.

 

Caravan Saray

Was a place where merchants stayed and kept their merchandise. It was built in 1650. In 1890 it became a museum and a venue for events and restaurants.

 

Sioni Cathedral

This church keeps 2 main holy relics: vine cross of St. Nino and Skull of St. Toma (one of Christ's disciples).

Initially it was built in 6- 7 centuries but also has been damaged and renovated many times. The icons belong to 19th century.  

 

Anchiskhati Church

Is the oldest church (6th century) in Tbilisi and the best example of ancient architecture as a three naved basilica.  

 

Museum of Fine Arts

Preserves most of cultural heritage of Georgia including paintings of famous Georgian painters. The guide can be hired inside and excursion will last approximately 1 hour.

 

Museum of History

Preserves archeological excavation artefacts and treasures.

 
Rustaveli Avenue




Is the main street of Tbilisi. Shota Rustaveli after whom the street is named is famous and most favorite Georgian poet, author of a poem “Knight in Tiger's Skin”.  The street stretches from Freedom square (square with tall, golden Saint George statue) to Metro Station Rustaveli. Here you should pay attention to former parliament building (now it has moved to Kutaisi), N1 school, Rustaveli Theatre, Opera house.

 

Sameba Cathedral

Is the tallest cathedral in Georgia, was built in 2004 and is currently the most important church in the country.

 

Other Places You Should Visit

- The Bridge of Peace and Rike Park in the old town

- River tours on Mtkvari (from Rike Park)

- Plekhanov district and newly renovated aghmashenebeli avenue with its only pedestrian area.

- Outdoor Ethnography Museum and Turtle Lake

- Tbilisi Botanical Garden (great location for short treks and trips to nature)

- Mtatsminda hill with cable car going to the top up to TV station and Big wheel.


More Info about Leisure in Tbilisi

- Most popular bars & pubs here

- Most popular clubs in Tbilisi here

 
Here is a short list of must do things in Tbilisi:

- Cross the Bridge of peace

- Climb Narikala fortress

- Visit Sameba Holy Trinity Cathedral

- Visit Mtatsminda park with a funicular

- Take a picture next to the Mother of Georgia statute

- Spend a day in Botanical Garden

- Visit the Opera theater, Rustaveli theatre and Gabriadze Marionette theatre

- Get something to eat at Erekle II street

- Taste lots of wines

- Wander the streets of old Tbilisi: Vera, Mtatsminda, Sololaki, Plekhanov

- Shop for antique and interesting stuff at the Dry bridge market

- Have a swim in Tbilisi Sea

- Take a boat tour on the Mtkvari River

- Jog, cicle and relax at turtle lake or Lisi lake

- Definitely go and get a massage at sulphur baths

- Go for a pub crawl

- Go clubbing to Bassiani or Cafe Gallery


And finally here you can check out an article on National Geographic about Tbilisi :)



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