Tbilisi (თბილისი) is a city like a labyrinth. A city to wander into. A haze of past glory hangs around overgrown courtyards of seemingly collapsing buildings that stand next to futuristic glass structures. Persian bathhouses are popping up between Kafkaesque Soviet blocs and a thousand and one churches and mosques. And somewhere in between is a hip neighborhood with organic coffee and halloumi. In Tbilisi you can eat like a king and rave under an abandoned football stadium. A pearl.
Tbilisi: the history
Tradition has it that the name Tbilisi – meaning “hot water” – comes from the ancient King Vakhtang. One day, King Vakhtang went hunting with his falcon in the forests of what is now the capital of Georgia. His falcon – a stately bird of prey worthy of its king – managed to catch large prey but plunged into a hot spring in its dive. The water was so hot that King Vakhtang’s beloved bird was instantly dead as dead. In awe of the place and out of respect for the bird, the king decided to build a city here, and to name it after the hot springs.
We can talk about Tbilisi for days and days, but let’s save that for during the trip. What is there to do in this intriguing capital?
A tip of the veil
Tbilisi is located in the valley, which gives you plenty of opportunities to admire the city from above. The ruins of the Narikala fortress offer a nice view. And not far from the fortress, a monumental statue, Kartlis Deda ( Mother ), watches over the city. And also over Mtatsminda park
Soviet architecture dominates in the Nutsubidze district. In Abanotubani, the old town, locals and tourists relax in sulfur baths. Continue on urban exploring to Laguna Vere an abandoned outdoor swimming pool. Freedom Square, Rustaveli Avenue and Sameba Cathedral are other popular attractions. But in Tbilisi it is best to get lost in the streets, then you will automatically encounter treasures.
A note about the food (we try our best to keep it short and sweet, but, wow, what a kitchen. We love food. The Georgians love to eat. We click, you understand). Lobiani, kachapuri, khinkalis … Everything is spicy, full of flavor and washed down with delicious home-grown wines. Did you know that Georgia is the oldest wine country in Europe, and probably in the whole world? You will notice, we are already very enthusiastic.