POST Online Media Lite Edition


Tbilisi, Georgia, an ancient city surrounded by a legend

Terrence T. White |
As Georgia's capital and largest city, Tbilisi offers plenty of things to see and do. From the ancient city wall, Soviet architecture, modern glass buildings to the Old Tbilisi, you'll have hard time to decide what to see first.

Article continues below

This ancient city spreads out on both banks of the Mtkvari River and its creation is surrounded by a legend. Sometime in the mid-5th century AD, King Vakhtang I Gorgasali was hunting, his falcon fell with a a pheasant 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. Today, The Old Tbilisi district is a fascinating place to wander around aimlessly. You can spend hours getting lost in its old cobblestone alleys, tight winding backstreets and hidden courtyards.

This is the place where you can find beautiful painted entrance hallways, wooden balconies, little shops can be found every now and then, this is a true gem you can enjoy for hours. And there are sulfur bathhouses fed by natural hot springs where you can go and relax for an hour or two, especially on a colder day. But they are mixed with a number of modern restaurants, cosy cafes, night clubs and art galleries. From here you can see Narikala Fortress constructed for defense purposes in the 4th century and considerably expanded over centuries afterwards.

When we are talking about fine restaurants, we must say that wine is a big part of the Georgian culture. People here are making wine since 8,000 BC and they have a unique process of winemaking that has made it onto the UNESCO list for Intangible Heritage. However, thanks to its position, Georgia is a source of a very quality mineral water which is a big export item. For wine enthusiasts, Tbilisi ranks high in the choice destination list. Go and see for yourself and when you taste wine it's time to set your foot toward the dry bridge.

The dry bridge is home to Tbilisi's flea market with all kinds of art pieces and antique items for sale. From Soviet era memories to modern day crafts, the flea market has it all and it's open daily. And you can enjoy beuatiful architecture around it too. Tbilisi is absolutely an European town if you look around. The Art Museum of Georgia, for example, located near Freedom Square, is a building that could very well stand in the centre of Rome with its typical big columns. Here you can find 140,000 items, more or less, of art on display from various cultures and periods.

Another example of fine architecture is the Trinity Cathedral. This is not just an outstandig building, this is one of the tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. Along with everything you'd expect from such place, an underground part and nine chapels, you can find here beautiful gardens. Not far away, the Georgian State Museum of Theatre, Music, Cinema and Choreography, Art Palace, is another centerpiece of Georgian cultural objects. The museum is housed in one of the most beautiful buildings in Tbilisi which is a mix of Gothic and Islamic architecture.

Georgia is a country where food is excellent and every meal is a festival. In Tbilisy you can taste khinkali, a mix of Russian pelmeni, ravioli, and Chinese soup dumplings. Bread is excellent too and it's something that's very valued here, people don't throw it away under any circumstance. Khachapuri, a cheese pie, is one of Georgia’s more excellent bread meals. It is usually made with beef, plum puree and ground walnuts, and all that gives the sauce a sweet-and-sour taste. Your kids would like Churchkhela, a candy stick with walnuts on the centre dipped in thick hot grape juice.

One thing you have to try here and that's not food is Tbilisi's cable car. It starts across the river from old town and crosses Old Tbilisi. When you come to the top of the hill you will have the best views of the city you can imagine. For those of you more advetureous take a note that there is a zip line next to the top station of the cable car so if you are an andrenaline addict go for it. Then head to the Tbilisi Mall on Rustaveli Avenue, where you'll spend more money there in the largest shopping mall in the Southern Caucasus but is less nerve wracking.

If you want to see real town, don't take an official tour but find some local instead. It's much cheaper and you will see more insider things. Of course, the ferris wheel is the first place they will take you to, a 275 meter high TV tower on top of a 400 meter mountain is next to it and it looks spectacular. After you eat something, the Mtatsminda Park is a nice place to finish your day. It is a popular hangout for the couples in the evening to enjoy the amazing view of the city. It is located on top of Mtatsminda Hill from which you can start to look around and plan where to go next.

What to read next

The jewel of Africa
His Majesty, Lucca from Tuscany
Building master pieces V