Georgia’s strategic position on the border of two continents: Europe and Asia, between two cultures: Christianity and Islam has long been the cause of numerous wars. The Romans, the Arabs, the Persians, and also in the modern history Russians, all they tried to occupy Georgia permanently, but no one actually has managed to do so. The incredible determination of the Georgian nation, cultivating tradition, including the ancient Kartuli ena language, allowed the country to preserve national identity. The history of this country is shown in many aspects, starting with the stubborn character of the Georgians and ending with the various architecture.
How is the capital of this country? It’s as twisted as its history. In Tbilisi you can see futuristic architecture, contrasting with the old townhouses, Muslim influences mix here with Christian, and in addition you can find some abandoned gems, which remember socialism.
Bath in hot sulphur
An interesting place is the Orbeliani Bath Complex located in the Abanotubani district. Characteristic architecture with a building decorated with blue tiles reminds the Arab times. In 736 the capital of Georgia was conquered by the Arabs and for almost 400 years it was the center of the so-called Emirate of Tbilisi. Thermal baths with hot springs are underground, just under the characteristic cupolas. They are the showcase of the city, which name is derived from the Georgian word “tbili” which means warm. Admission for 2 people costs around 20€.
After the bath, it’s worth visiting the surrounding restaurants. Sip delicious Georgian wine and admire the interesting architecture of Abanotubani district.
The Old Town – time travel
A trip to the Old Town is a kind of time travel. While the tenement houses located in the area of the Orbeliani Baths look freshly renovated, the rest of the Old Town seems to be more authentic.
The lack of tourists, old ramshackle buildings, decorated metal gates, wooden decorative elements and colorful courtyards create a unique atmosphere of this place.
In some places, the buildings are in a really bad condition, but progressive work of construction can be seen at every corner.
An additional attraction are small art galleries and bakeries located in the cellars, where you can also buy some tetri.
My advice: to get to know this place better, you just need to get lost 😉
Fabulous time tower
One of the main attractions of the Old Town is the fabulous clock tower. Located in the old part of the city, it’s actually the artistic vision of the theatre director – Rezo Gabriadze, built in 2010. Interesting design and characteristic tilt makes the impression that it’s about to fall. It’s worth to come here at full hour. Then you can see an angel hitting the bell in the upper window of the clock. On the other hand, a small puppet spectacle is oragised there at noon and at 7.00 pm.
Tbilisi from perspective:
In order to see Tbilisi from a slightly higher perspective, you should visit two spots. One of them is Mount Mtatsminda. At the top there’s an amusemenmt park . It’s worth going there at sunset or at night. You can get there by funicular.
The second interesting viewpoint is Narikala Fortress, which is located on Solaki Hill. There’s a path to the hill, but on hot days it is better to use a cable car. During the ride you can admire the characteristic architecture of the Old Town.
The hill is guarded by a huge statue of Kartlis Deda – called the Mother of Georgia. In the left hand, she holds a glass of wine for friends, while in the right a sword for enemies. Near the statue you can see the ruins of the former fortress.
Sanitary pad with the Presidential Palace in the background
The cable car to the Narikala Fortress runs from Rike Park. Rike Park surprises with a modern architecture that completely doesn’t match the old surroundings. It’s the artistic vision of the former President of Georgia – Michail Saakashvili. The characteristic spot is the Bridge of Peace, which due to its appearance is recognised by the inhabitants as a sanitary pad.
The perfect contrast for the bulwark of the Kura river is the concert hall in the shape of a tube and a Presidential Palace located just behind it.
The place you need to see while being in Tbilisi is Fabrika located on Egnate Ninoshvili street 8. The former textile factory has been changed to a hostel and an iconic meeting place.
In the courtyard of the factory there are cafes and bars and the walls of the building are decorated with many interesting murals.
During the day you can come by to drink a delicious coffee and in the evening to party.
Tea only in Althaus
The best place for tea or coffee is Althaus. The interior is decorated in a vintage style, while a colourful porch offers a nice view of the city. This is the perfect place for breakfast or rest during sightseeing.
Best beer in Warsaw!
The iconic Warsaw bar is located in the center of the city on Freedom Square. It’s a popular hangout for residents and tourists. If you miss Polish food you can eat here steak tartare,herring or meat in jelly, as well as various types of beer, wine and vodka. Menu of course in Polish 😉
Transport to Tbilisi
There are a lot of regular flights to Tbilisi. However, prices are quite high, especially in the high season. I took advantage of Wizzair offer from Katowice to Kutaisi. From Kutaisi airport you can get to the capital of Georgia using Gerogian Bus. The ticket costs 15 GEL and you can receive a 10 % discount when booking online. The journey takes about 4 hours and the bus stops in the centre of Tbilisi in Freedom Square.
If you like adrenaline, renting a car will certainly be an interesting option for you. Personally, I’ve had a lot of adventures with Georgian rental cars companies, but this is a topic for a separate post. Fortunately, during my last stay in Georgia, I was with a good driver. To be honest, I can do bungee jump or skydive, but driving a car in Tbilisi is like taking a ride on a rollercoaster without fasten belts.
Public Transport is the best option to move around Tbilisi. In order to use buses and metro you need to buy a Metromoney card. It costs around 2-3 GEL it is complemented by the amount in the counters or machines. Even a few people can use one card.