Read about the city

The old town of Tbilisi is cozy and characterized by crooked streets, narrow alleys, old buildings and the very elegant balconies that break the facades at some buildings in the area. Beautiful churches are also here in great numbers on both sides of the river Kura that winds through the city.

Parks and promenades are situated along the Kura, and from here there is not far to the city's sights to the east and west. The mighty Trinity Cathedral, along with the presidential palace, stands on the slopes to the east, while the main street of Rustaveli Avenue starts at the city's freedom square to the west. Splendid buildings can be seen at the avenue, one after another and among them many well-known state institutions.

It is also possible to enjoy a tour of the old mineral baths in Tbilisi. And if you want to see it all from above, both the Nariqala fort and Mtatsminda mountain are good choices where to see unforgettable panoramic views. From these places you get a good impression of how Tbilisi is located between mountains.

Mountains and beautiful monasteries are part of what awaits as you go on trips from Tbilisi, and in the town of Gori you can learn more about the Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin, who was born here.

Other attractions

Vake Park, Tbilisi

  • Vake Park/vakis parki: Vake Park is named after the district of Vake; It is 200 hectares/500 acre in area and opened in 1946 as Victory Park. The occasion was the victory of World War II, and you can still see the park's impressive victory monument from Soviet times.
  • Mtatsminda Park/mtatsmindis parki: Mtatsminda Park above the city center is the largest park in the Georgian capital. It is worth to climb the hill to enjoy the beautiful view from here, as well as to pay a visit to the amusement park located here.

Mineral Baths, Tbilisi

  • Mineral Baths/gogirdis abano: Tbilisi was founded right here due to the good location and the presence of the hot springs which have 38-40 °C/100-104 °F hot water. The water's minerals and other constituents have therapeutic effects, and you can enjoy it in the mineral baths in the city.
  • Rustaveli Avenue/Rustavelis Gamziri: This is Tbilisi's main street. The street starts from Freedom Square and is about 1.5 kilometers/ 1 mile long. There are a number of important institutions such as the Georgian Parliament and the city's opera and ballet theater along the street.

Mother Georgia, Tbilisi

  • Mother Georgia/Kartlis Deda: On the Sololaki mountain crest stands the statue of Mother Georgia, which is visible from large parts of Tbilisi. The statue symbolizes the Georgian capital, popularly called Mother Georgia.
  • National Museum of Georgia/sakartvelos erovnuli muzeumi: This is one of Georgia's most important museums. The museum houses an extensive archaeological and ethnographic collection from Georgia and also from other parts of the Caucasus.

Peace Bridge, Tbilisi

  • The Peace Bridge/mshvidobis khidi: The 150 meter/492 feet long Peace Bridge was opened in 2010 and there are beautifuls view from both the water and land side as well as from a walk over it. The bridge spans the Kura River.
  • The wedding palace/kortsinebis sakhli: The wedding palace was designed by architect Victor Djorbenadze and built in 1984. Its function was to register and celebrate marriages, as was the case with similar institutions across the Soviet Union.

President's Palace, Tbilisi

  • Presidential Palace/avlabris rezidentsia: Georgia's presidential palace was designed primarily by the Italian architect Michele de Lucchi and built in the years 2004-2009. The palace with its large dome is one of the city's new landmarks.
  • Georgia Ethnography and Outdoor Museum/sakhelobis ethnograpiuli muzeumi ghia tsis kvesh: Located in a forest and nature area, this ethnography and open-air museum gives visitors the impression of Georgian culture and daily life.
History overview

    Read about city history

    Beginning of the City
    Archaeological studies indicate that the area around Tbilisi has been inhabited for millennia, while the actual history of the city began in the latter half of the 300s with King Varaz-Bakur's fort on the site. The fort fell quickly into Persian hands before being subjected to Georgian kings in the 400s.

    King Vakhtang In Gorgasali, Tbilisi expanded during his reign in the 400s. However, according to tradition he founded the city in 458. It was said that he was hunting falcon in the forests here. During the hunt, the king's falcon caught a pheasant, and both birds fell into a hot spring and died. Thus, the site of Tbilisi should have been chosen, and the name Tbilisi also refers to the old Georgian Tpili, which means heat with reference to the sources in the area.

    After Vakhtang I Gorgasali, King Dachi I Ujarmeli took the throne and moved the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi, as the previous king had wished. Dacha In Ujarmeli expanded the city, which as its capital grew steadily; not least because of its favorable location on trade routes between Europe and Asia.

    Foreign influence
    The city's central location in the Caucasus on trade routes between Europe and Asia, however, also led to other than favorable growth opportunities; for example, the region's powers came to take over or influence the country in turn; generally, however, with substantial autonomy.

    Byzantine, Persian, and Seljuks were just some of the people and powers that sought dominance with Tbilisi and this area of ​​Georgia. Culturally, they had a major influence on the development of the city, and governmental power often shifted from the 500s.

    At the end of the century, Persia captured Tbilisi, and in 627 attacked, among other Byzantine armies. In the 730s, Arab armies conquered the city and their rule continued in various forms until 1050, despite Georgian attempts to bring back the Arabs.

    The Georgian Renaissance
    After fierce fighting against the Turkish seljuks, a numerically inferior Georgian army prevailed under the country's King David in 1122. Thus, both western and eastern Georgia with Tbilisi were free after many centuries.

    King David made Tbilisi the capital of the united country, thereby moving his own residence from Kutaisi. With the new status, Tbilisi flourished through the 1100-1200s and became a regional power factor and economic center.

    Culturally, too, Tbilisi marked itself and it had grown to about 120,000 inhabitants. Among them was the author Shota Rustaveli, who in this Georgian golden age wrote his famous poem The Knight in the Tiger Skin.

    Mongols and other conquerors
    After more than 100 years of Georgian freedom and independence, the country came under the control of the Mongols in 1236 after their defeat, although the country of Georgia continued as its own unit. Both politically and culturally, the country was influenced by the Mongols forced out of the country in the 1320s, after which an independent Georgia again emerged.

    The Tbilisi of the 1300s-1700s was characterized by many changing conquests of the city and the country, and over the centuries Persians were among the most frequent in the area and later also the Ottomans of Turkey.

    Despite several successful liberations of the capital under several Georgian kings, the Persians remained a strong opponent, and following Tbilisi's fire in 1795, King Erekle sought assistance from Russia.

    1801 and the Russian Empire
    The Georgian kingdom became part of the growing Russian empire in 1801, and Tbilisi became the administrative capital of the new government for the region.

    As part of Russia, Tbilisi flourished rapidly and investment was made in the city. Many newbuildings shot up, and roads and later railroads were constructed as connections to other parts of the empire; eg to the nearby cities of Baku and Yerevan.

    Tbilisi became one of the cultural and economic centers of the Caucasus, and many notables came to town; for example, Alexander Pushkin and the Russian Zar family, Romanov, who built their Caucasian residence on the city's main street.

    Independence and the Soviet Union
    Following the Russian Revolution in 1917, Tbilisi became the capital of the Transcaucasian Republic in 1918. It was in the former Russian royal palace that in May of that year Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaidjan declared their independence as three nations.

    Until 1921, Tbilisi was the capital of the Republic of Georgia, and during those years a number of national institutions such as the city's State University were established, which saw the light of day in 1918.

    On February 25, 1921, the Soviet Red Army penetrated Tbilisi, making Georgia part of the Soviet Union. In the beginning, Tbilisi was the capital of the Transcaucasian SFSR, but after the division of the area into several Soviet republics, the city again became the Georgian capital.

    Throughout time as part of the Soviet Union, the nation's apparatus of power was concentrated in Moscow, and several Georgian politicians made their mark on the development; not least Josef Stalin, who took power after Lenin's death and maintained it until his death in 1953.

    New independence
    With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared its independence, and Tbilisi again became the capital of an independent Georgian country. In recent years, the economy has been continuously improving, and large investments have been made in Tbilisi, which has also experienced increasing tourism.
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Top attractions

Metekhi Church, Tbilisi

  • Metekhi Church/metekhis tadzari: Metekhi is the name of this church and the neighborhood in which it is located. The present church was built during the rule of King Demetrius II around the year 1280. At the church you can see the famous statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali.
  • Old Tbilisi/dzveli tbilisi: The old town of Tbilisi is characterized by crooked streets, narrow alleys, old buildings and some very elegant balconies on some of the older houses. Simply explore the streets and enjoy the atmosphere.

Freedom Square, Tbilisi

  • Freedom Square/Tavisuplebis Moedani: Freedom Square is Tbilisi's central square, and here begins the splendor of the Rustaveli Avenue. It is also the place where people gathered during the so-called Rose Revolution that led to a government change in 2003. On the square is the town hall, and here is a monument to St. George.
  • Sioni Cathedral/sionis tadzari: Originally built in the period 575-639, Sioni Cathedral is among the most important  church buildings in the Georgian Orthodox Church. It is named after Mount Zion at Jerusalem, and you can see a beautiful interior here.

Holy Trinity Cathedral, Tbilisi

  • Holy Trinity Cathedral/tsminda samebis sakatedro tadzari: This cathedral is the primary church for Georgian Orthodox Christians, and it is the seat of the church's patriarch. The church was built in the years 1995-2004, and it is the country's largest church building. The construction is impressive, and inside you are greeted by a bright and beautiful, modern church interior.

Nariqala Fortress, Tbilisi

  • Nariqala Fort/Nariqala: Nariqala Fort is a fortress building dating back to the time of Tbilisi in the 300s. It is located above the city at the top of Mount Sololaki. Since 1827, the fort has been a ruin after explosions caused by lightning. From Nariqala there is an unforgettable view of Tbilisi.
Trips in the area

Jvari Monastery, Mtshketa

  • Monastery of the Cross (Jvari Monastery)/Jvris monasteri: This monastery is breathtakingly located on the top of a hill immediately before the former Georgian capital, Mtshketa. Below the ridge the rivers Kura (Mtkvari) and Aragvi confluence. From the monastery there is a beautiful view and there is an atmospheric interior of the monastery church.

Mtshketa, Georgia

  • Mtshketa: The city of Mtshketa is Georgia's former capital in the time of Kartli-Iberia, and it is one of the places in the world that is believed to have been permanently inhabited for the longest time; thus, remnants of settlements from before the year 1000 BC have been found. The provincial atmosphere of the town is a good contrast to the big city of Tbilisi and you should see the beautiful and important Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in the middle of Mtshketa.

Stalin House Museum, Gori

  • Gori: The city of Gori is known as the birthplace of Soviet head of state Joseph Stalin, and Stalin and the Stalin era are the greatest tourist attractions in the city. The biggest attraction is the Stalin Museum, built at Stalin's childhood home. The museum has fine collections, and here is also the railway carriage that from 1941 brought Stalin to the Yalta Conference.
  • Ananuri: Ananuri is a beautifully located church and castle complex at the western end of the Zhinvali water reservoir. From here, the dukes of Aragvi ruled from the 13th century to 1739, when Ananuri was attacked by a neighboring duchy.

Stepantsminda, Georgia

  • Stepantsminda: The town of Stepantsminda is located in northeastern Georgia close to the border with Russia. Stepantminda is surrounded by high mountains and is at a height of 1,740 meters/5,709 feet above sea level. The nature is overwhelming and a great attraction, and immediately west of the city, Gergeti Trinity Church is beautifully located in the mountains.
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Shopping
  • Kidobani : Tsabadze Street 8 / g. tsabadzis kucha 8
  • Megaline : 112 Kereselidze Street / kereselidzis 12, www.megaline.ge
  • Tbilisi Central : Station Square 2 / vagzlis moedani 2, www.tbilisicentral.ge
  • Shopping streets: Rustaveli Avenue / Rustavelis Gamziri, Pekini Avenue / pekinis gamziri, Vazha Pshavela Avenue / v. pshavelas gamziri, Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue / ilia chavchavadzis gamziri, Tsabadze Street / g. tsabadzis kucha, Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue / davit aghmasheneblis gamziri
With kids
  • Circus: Tsirki, Heroes Square 1 / gmirta moedani 1
  • Waterpark: Europark / Evroparki, Ninua Street 3 / ninuas kucha 3, www.europark.ge
  • Ethnography: Georgia Ethnography and Outdoor Museum / sakhelobis ethnograpiuli muzeumi ghia tsis kvesh, Tortile Lake Road 1 / kus tbis asakhvevi, www.museum.ge
  • Amusement Park: Mtatsminda Park / mtatsmindis parki, Mtatsminda / Mtatsminda, www.park.ge
  • Puppet Museum: Tojinebis muzeumi, 17 Shavteli Street / shavtelis kucha 17
  • Zoo: Zooparki, M. Kostava Street 64 / M. Kostavas kucha 64, www.zoo.ge
Practical info