The history of this amazing city stretches from ancient times, namely the V century, when King Vakhtang Gorgasali ordered to found a city in the center of a fertile valley, cozy lying between two mountain ranges. Tbilisi
Legend about founding Tbilisi. King Vakhtang Gorgasali (AD 446-502) went hunting one day around the territory of today’s Tbilisi which was then covered with a dense forest. The King wounded a pheasant and sent his falcon in pursuit. After the long search the two birds were found boiled in hot spring. King Gorgasali was so impressed with the naturally hot sulphur water that he decided to found a city near the springs and call it Tbilisi. “Tbili” means “warm” in Georgian.
Tbilisi – it is a cultural, economic and political center of Georgia, and yet it is an incredibly cozy, interesting and diverse city. Tbilisi is not like any other cities in the world. The combination of the original architecture and natural beauty gives it a unique flavor and charm. Today, image of a modern Tbilisi, combines the ancient and modern features: near the temples of VI-VII centuries grew modern high-rise buildings, appeared wide streets, parks, squares, magnificent bridges were spread across affluent Kura River. But the soul of real Tbilisi lives in the Old City.
Quiet charm of sunlit streets, terrace houses, vine-covered, old churches with tiled domes, and, of course, traditional Tbilisi courtyards with quaint carved verandas will not leave anyone indifferent. Piece of your soul will remain forever in this enchanting corner, as everyone you will keep the memories of this wonderful city in your heart forever.
Metekhi Temple – Yet another ancient monument of Tbilisi is Metekhi temple (the 12 th century) standing close to the edge of the rocky bank of the Kura which was the fortress and the residence of Georgian tsars. Under the vaults of Metekhi temple the first Georgian martyr – St. Shushanik killed by her fire worshipper husband in the 5 th century AD was buried. Metekhi was first mentioned in the chronicles in the 13 th century. The temple was repeatedly destroyed and restored. It suffered the most during Mongol invasion after which the first restoration took place. In the 15 th century it was destroyed again by Persians. The Georgian tsars rebuilt the temple in the 16 th – 17 th centuries. The next restoration was in the mid-19 th century; back then all the surrounding fortifications were dismantled and replaced with the prison building. Today the tourists see the high brick structure square in plan with the round turret covered by a peaked roof in the center – the remains of the ancient fortress complex of the castle, the monastery and the temple.
Sulphur Baths – In the old part of the city you can visit the well-known Tbilisi Sulphur BathsIn the old part of the city you can visit the well-known Tbilisi sulfuric baths or the baths of tsar Rostom. The emergence of the baths was promoted by the abundance of hot sulfuric springs in the area. All of them were built I different times – approximately it the 17 th – 19 th centuries. The oldest of them is the Irakli bath which was an object of ownership arguments between the imperial family and Georgian princes in the 16 th century. The most beautiful is the Orbeliani bath. From both sides it is decorated with minarets and its lancet facade is lines with blue tiles. Most people call it the Blue bath. The bath interior is very clean and beautiful; the walls are adorned with the mosaic of green and white ceramic tiles. Long time ago the people not only washed themselves there but also socialized sometimes until dawn; and the city matchmakers arranged presentation of marriageable girls on special days. In the baths they threw parties, made deals.
Narikala Fortress – Narikala is the ancient citadel overlooking the capital of Georgia and the Mtkvari River. The fortress already existed by the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (“invidious fort) and considerably expanded by the Arab Caliphate Umayyad in the 7th century and later, by King David the Builder. The Mongols renamed it “Narin Qala”, what means “Little Fortress” in Persian. Most of extant fortifications date from the 16 and 17th centuries. Unfortunately in 1827, the fortress was significantly damaged by an earthquake and partially demolished. Nowadays we can witness the past from ruins which came to our days – two wall sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the Botanical Garden of Tbilisi – and recently restored St. Nicolas Church which is located on the lower court of Narikala Fortress.
Sioni Cathedral – Sioni or Zion Cathedral in the name of the Assumption of the Mother of God is one of the most known monuments in the Old Town . The beginning of its construction is dated the 5 th – 6 th centuries and the completion – the first half of the 7 th century. The Cathedral is named in the honor of Jerusalem Zion. Today Sioni is the residence of the Catholicos – the Patriarch of Georgian Christian church. There the greatest relic of Georgia , the cross of St. Nino who established Christianity on Georgian soil, is kept there. The cross is made of two grapevines and is intertwined with the Saint’s hair according to the legend. Sioni was repeatedly destroyed by enemies. But each time it rose from the ashes. Despite the high status of the temple, its look is modest and reserved. Its architectural style reminds strict Catholic structures of a religious cult lacking any elements of decor. The only ornament of the cathedral is the high tower with the peaked steepled dome towering over the central part of Sioni. The dome rests on the vaults closing the altar walls and two separately standing arrow shaped columns.
Anchiskhati Churc – In the Old Town there is the ancient acting St. Mary Church constructed during the reign of Dacha Udzharmeli, the successor of Vakhtang Gorgasali, in the 4 th century. The beautiful rectangular building of the church was build under the influence of ancient Palestinian architecture. The doors of Anchiskhati church are decorated with traditional Georgian cross similar to the one made by St. Nino. On the western facade of the temple there is a stone medallion with the cross which has survived since the earliest version. The church received its present name in the 17 th century when the big icon from Anchi cathedral ( Southern Georgia ) was moved there. The icon of the Vernicle Image of the Savior is one of the greatest relics of Georgia . It was made by means of encaustic (using hot wax paints) which originated in Byzantium approximately in the 6 th century. The icon of the Savior from Anchi became widely known in the 12 th century when Beka Opizari, the goldsmith of queen Tamar made the silver frame with gold inserts for it. Today the Anchi icon (in Georgian “Anchskhati”) is displayed in the Museum of Fine Arts of Georgia.
Holy Trinity Cathedral – The Holy Trinity (Tsminda Sameba) Cathedral is listed among the largest Orthodox churches in the World. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, the cathedral rises on Elia Hill, on the left bank of Mtkvari River and keeps traditional Georgian architectural style. The complex includes nine chapels, various supplementary buildings, and enchanting gardens. The Cathedral is the highest one not only in Georgia but in whole Caucasus region. The height from the ground to the top of the cross is 105,5 meters. The golden dome of the cathedral is practically visible from any point in Tbilisi and is an unmissable landmark any time of the day of night.
Rustaveli Avenue – The Champs Élysées of Tbilisi. High concentration of important business and administrative buildings. Running from Freedom Square northwest and parallel to the Mtkvari river, Rustaveli Avenue is 1,500- meter-long (4,920-foot) avenue that has been an important thoroughfare since medieval limes. Laid out by the Russians in the 19th century and strung with elegant and important buildings, it tends to be the place in Tbilisi you always find yourself walking. A refurbishment programme has spruced up Rustaveli: facades have been restored, flower beds planted and new pavements laid . Several new top-end hotels are also being added to its landscape. Named Golovinskii Avenue by Vorontsov, the Tsar’s viceroy in the Caucasus, who constructed it in the 19th century, it is now named for the great 12th-century Georgian poet. Lined with plane trees, decorated with flower beds, graced by a vari-ety of neoclassical and Renaissance revival facades, and site of the city’s most important theatres and the Opera House, Rustaveli Avenue was and will no doubt again, in less stressful times, be the street of choice for Tbilisians to take their evening passegiata.
The National Museum is home to a unique collection of pre-Christian gold artifacts and jewellery. The museum also houses the national collections of archaeology, history and ethnography. The first floor is dedicated to the ancient history of Georgia. Items discovered during the excavations at the Trialeti kugran (dating back to the 2nd century B.C.) are of great value. Archaeologists managed to find various vessels from metal (mainly gold and silver), samples of ceramic items, and jewelry pieces. The golden cup adorned with gems and geometric pattern gained fame all around the world. Some of the weaponry and collection of coins are dated with 5th and 6th centuries. In addition, works of ancient artisans, samples of clothing of different times, fabrics and carpets are displayed there.
One of the interesting finds is fossils of the hominid Homo ergaste. Scientists proved that their age was 1,8mln years. These are the most ancient fossils that certify the existence of humans beyond Africa at those times. All other human fossils of similar age were found only within the bounds of African territory. Another valuable find is the collection of Urartian inscriptions on rocks. These fragments make up a unique exposition of its kind.
The National Art Museum – Near the Square of Freedom in the picturesque public garden stands the massive building with a portico and colonnade. Before, it was the building of Tiflis Theological Seminary. Now is the Georgian National Arts Museum with the rich collection including the Gold Fund with valuable masterpieces of medieval chasing (the 8 th —13 th centuries) and plique-a-jour (10 th —12 th centuries). The most precious artifacts are the golden cross of queen Tamara with the inscription decorated with emeralds, rubies, and pearls and Bagrat III’s cup (999). The most ancient icon of Georgia (the 6 th century) – the Anchi icon of the Vernicle Image of the Savio (Anchiskhati) is also kept in the museum. Besides, the museum has the pictures of European masters, masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese art, monuments of Egyptian, Iranian and Indian art, shawls from India, Turkey, Iran, Persian carpets.along with the pictures of Russian artists – I.Repin, V.Surikov, V.Serov, I.Ayvazovsky, A.Vasnetsov and the richest collection of pictures by great Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani.
The National Gallery – National Gallery offers a variety of periodical exhibitions of contemporary Georgian art as well as foreign artists’ collections. The highlight of the museum is the most famous Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani’s work.
Pirosmani was a unique painter who did not get an artistic education in any drawing schools. He created his own expressing system that bore no resemblance to any other. He entirely separately developed the painterly principles and accomplished the same problems as the drawing schools or styles worked on in Europe.
Pirosmani’s drawing technique, expressivness of composition, shape and colour as well as his own attitude to the world regard him a distinctive place among the outstanding world artists.
Here you can find also works of famous Georgian painters: David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, Elene Akhvlediani.
Ethnographical Open Air Museum – An outdoor museum – Open-Air Museum of Georgian Folk Architecture – that consists of 70 buildings and thousands craftworks, permits you to travel around Georgia and discover the diversity and the beauty of the country in 2 hours.The Open Air Museum exposes 14 ethnographic zones: Kartli, Samegrelo, Adjara, Abkhazia, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Kakheti, Meskheti, Javakheti, Guria, Imereti, Racha, Lechkhumi and Osetia. Each of them presents the particular historic-ethnographic area of Georgia. Together with the architectural monuments the museum exposes ethnographic materials – different kinds of tools, textile and ceramics. The museum also exposes the V-VI c. basilica of Sioni, as well as a rich collection of the grave stones in relief. Every summer, museum hosts an annual folk culture festival Art-Gene that promotes Georgia’s traditional folklore.
Mtatsminda – In the very center of the city right across the main street of Tbilisi – Rustavi towers the Holy mountain – Mount Mtatsminda or David Mountain named in the honor of St. David Garedzhi who lived as a recluse in a cave on one of its slopes. From the mountain you will see the panorama of entire Tbilisi which seems to fit your palm. The wide mountain plateau is occupied by the television tower (276m), a surprisingly beautiful building of the top station of cable car, St. David Church (the 19 th century) and a small cemetery – the Pantheon of famous Georgians where A.Griboedov, the Russian poet, his wife Nina Chavchavadze, Elijah Chavchavadze, Nikoloz Baratashvili, Acacias Tsereteli, Sergo Zakariadze and others are buried. The Holy Mountain is also known for Narikala, the most ancient fortress in Tbilisi