In 2008 Tbilisi celebrated its 1550-year-old anniversary. It means that the history of this amazing city throws back as far as the 5 th century when the Georgian tsar Vakhtang Gorgasali ordered to build a city in the centre of the fertile valley cozily lying between two Caucasian ridges. The city’s name was not incidental. It originated from the word “tbili” – warm.
Legend of Tbilisi
In fact the plain between Mount Sololaki and Metekhi cliff, where the city is situated, is rich in warm sulfuric springs. There is a beautiful legend connected with the city’s beginning. It runs that Vakhtang Gorgasali and his train hunted in dense woods. Suddenly they saw a pheasant.
The tsar sent his falcon to catch it, but both birds disappeared. After a long quest the birds were found boiled in a hot spring gushing from under the ground. Dumbfounded Vakhtang ordered to build a city on this very site – on the right bank of the river Kura (Mtkvari).
It was back then that the known aphorism was born: “the Key to the Caucasus is in Tbilisi ”. Still it is now: You can start exploring The Caucasus from Tbilisi as trains, taxis and marshutkas run to connect Tbilisi to Baku and Yerevan, borders to both countries are around 1 hr drive from Tbilisi. Tbilisi is the place where you can sit in the Azeri chaikhana run by Armenian who speaks all 3 languages. Tbilisi is the sacred place for all Caucasus having all cultural flavors in 1 and hospitable to all.
History of Tbilisi
In the Middle Ages Tbilisi was a prosperous city. It was a home of remarkable poets such as the genius Shota Rustaveli and many others. Foreign poets were also inspired by this wonderful city. Pushkin who was deeply impressed by cordial reception he experienced in Tbilisi named the city the “ Fabulous Land ”. There Lermontov wrote his well-known ‘Mtsyri”, Griboedov – “ Wit Works Woe” , Tolstoy – “Childhood”, Gorky – “Makar Chudra” etc. All this is explained by the city’s poetic spirit and the unique aura.
Since the early 19th century the central part of modern Tbilisi arranged in rectangular blocks- the New City – has significantly grown. The modern city harmoniously combines antique and contemporary features: the temples of the 6 th – 7 th stand near modern high-rise buildings, wide avenues, are, gardens, boulevards; magnificent bridges connect the right and the left banks of the rapid Kura.
Things to do in Tbilisi
1) Visit Old Tbilisi Town
Every popular place in Tbilisi is an old district. Here are the most crowded sights of the capital:
- Glass pedestrian bridge with a modernist design – the Peace Bridge
- Historic Metekhi Church and a statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali.
- Europe Square, symbolically important for Georgians
- Rike Park, which is a favorite place for locals and tourists
And other sigtseeings which we will touch on again in this blog.
The soul of Tbilisi still dwells in the Old town. The quiet winding sunny streets, to terraces of the houses wreathed with vines, ancient churches with tiled domes, the ruins of old monasteries, traditional Georgian yards with intricate carved porches are simply irresistible. A part of your soul will stay forever in this charming nook in exchange for a little piece of Tbilisi which you going to take with you.
2) Try Sulfur Baths of Tbilisi
The most distinctive sights of Tbilisi are its historical sulfur baths, which are still active today.
Thanks to the unique architecture, you will notice Tbilisi sulfur baths from afar. The service in the baths is of a high standard, so when visiting Tbilisi you can try the naturally warm water.
3) Watch the Panorama of Tbilisi from cable cars then Visit Narikala Fortress and Leghvtakhevi Waterfall
After a walk in Rike Park you can use a cable car to visit the area around the statue of the Mother of Georgia from where you can see the whole of Tbilisi. From the same place you can enter the Tbilisi Botanical Garden where you can relax.
When you are ready to take photos and enjoy the view, you can walk to the sulfur baths of Tbilisi, because on the way you will be able to visit Narirkali Fortress – the main defense building of historical Tbilisi.
At the end of the road you will find yourself near the sulfur baths from where you will be able to visit Leghvtakhevi waterfall.
4) Visit Jan Shardeni Street
If you want to sit in a cafe in Old Tbilisi, you should visit Jan Sharden Street. On this beautiful narrow street you will find many cafes and bars where you can taste many drinks and food, relax and take pictures
5) Take a walk on Rustaveli Avenue
After walking through the streets of old Tbilisi you can move to the main avenue – Rustaveli where you will reach the Parliament, the Color Opera, the National and Art Museum and other main sights of Tbilisi.
There you can visit Freedom Square and see the statue of St. George placed on a huge pillar. If you want to go shopping, you will find Galleria Tbilisi Mall where you can buy products of world-famous and local brands.
During Christmas, the streets are decorated with beautiful lights and Christmas village is arranged where you can taste hot drinks and snacks.
6) Try the funicular in Mtatsminda Park
Construction of the funicular began in September 1903, with the participation of foreign specialists. Tbilisi Funicular is connected to Mtatsminda Park, which is one of the most popular places for relaxation in Tbilisi. Here you can enjoy the view of the whole capital, try the Tbilisi ferris wheel.
The park has many attractions and entertainment venues for both children and adults. You can taste delicious snacks and ice cream. There is a restaurant next to the park where you can taste delicious dishes with a view of Tbilisi.
7) Discover History of Georgia at Chronicles of Georgia
If you look at the central part of Tbilisi on the horizon, you will notice a huge column, which is one of the most distinctive monuments in Tbilisi.Chornicles of Georgia – reflects Georgian history and biblical stories, each column depicts a different history, Georgian kings and distinguished people.
The monument offers a view of the part of Tbilisi that you will not see while walking in the old town.
8) Have a picnic at Lisi Lake
The best place for a picnic in Tbilisi alone, with friends or family is Lisi Lake. Lisi Lake is located at 624 meters above sea level and is very close to the central districts of Tbilisi. Here you can relax at the picnic area as well as stroll around the lake.
There is a parking space, cafes and booths at the lake where you can buy food, cold and hot drinks.