1| GANJISKARI (GANJA GATEWAY) one of the historical gateways to Tbilisi and remains of a 9-18th c. defensive wall in the 300 Aragvian Park area. The road starting at Ganjiskari gate led to Ganja in today’s Azerbaijan, hence, the name. Archaeological excavations have revealed remains of a large pottery destroyed under the first invasion of Tamerlane.
2| METEKHI The historical heart of the city, Metekhi is the place from where King Vakhtang Gorgasali started to develop the new capital erecting the first church on top of the hill in the 5th c. Tradition holds that it was also a site where the 5th-century martyr lady Saint Shushanik, the heroine of the oldest known Georgian piece of literature, was buried. Later kings chose the site to host their court, royal palace, fortress and a cathedral here and it remained the royal residence right through Queen Tamar’s reign until Khwarezmid invasion headed by Jalal ad-Din in 1226 left Tbilisi in ruins and its Isani district, including this gorgeous hill-top ensemble, in flames. The extant Metekhi Church of Assumption dates back to circa 1278–1284. It was later damaged and restored several times. Metekhi is a must-see for any new visitor to Tbilisi.
3| THE SITE OF THE CHURCH OF THE HOLY FORTY The Church of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste was erected at the start of the foot of the slope leading to the Botanical Gardens. It is known as the place where St. Abo of Tiflis was beheaded. It also contains remains of residential, industrial, religious and other buildings of various ages, including a fortification wall dating back to the 5-6th cc.
4| NARIKALA Narikala is the ancient citadel overlooking the capital of Georgia, and the Mrkvari river. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulfur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is the recently restored St Nicholas church. The fortress already existed by the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (i.e., “Invidious Fort”) and considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by King David the Builder. The Mongols renamed it “Narin Qala” (i.e., “Little Fortress” in Persian). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, the fortress was damaged by an earthquake and partially demolished.
5| 3, GOMI STREET. ATESHGAH. This Zoroastrian Temple of Fire has existed in the beautiful Kldisubani district since the ancient times and is one of the oldest religious facilities in the city. The name is derived from the Persian word ‘ateshgah’ meaning ‘place of fire’. There were in all five ateshgahs in Georgia and this one is the only currently remaining place of fire worship, and one of the two still extant in Southern Caucasus – the other one being in Baku. Soon after construction of the temple Persians converted to Islam and the building remained functionless until Turks transformed it into a Sunni Mosque in the 18th c. However, Iranian Shah Nadir who confessed Shiite Islam, banished Turks from Tbilisi and annihilated any Sunni traces in the building.
6| 41, LESELIDZE STREET.
JVRISMAMA (CROSS FATHER) CHURCH.
The Church of St. Cross known to the public as Jvrismama Church is situated in Lower Kala, at the corner of Leselidze and Jerusalem Streets. Tradition holds it that it was initially King Vakhtang Gorgasali who built a church here naming it after Golgotha. The present church was built in the 16th c.
7| 4, SIONI STREET.
Sioni Cathedral is situated in historic Sionis Kucha (Sioni Street) in downtown Tbilisi, with its eastern façade fronting the right embankment of the Mtkvari River. It was initially built in the 6th-7th centuries and was multiply restored. Sioni Cathedral was the main Georgian Orthodox Cathedral and the seat of Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia until the Holy Trinity Cathedral was consecrated in 2004. However, it still holds the venerated Grapevine cross (exhibited at the left of the altar) forged by Saint Nino, a Cappadocian woman who preached Christianity in Georgia in the early 4th century. Sioni Cathedral was the place where the Russian Imperial manifesto on the annexation of Georgia was first published on April 12, 1802, when the Russian commander-in-chief in Georgia, General Karl von Knorring, assembled the Georgian nobles in the Cathedral surrounded by Russian troops. The nobles were forced to take an oath to the Russian Imperial crown and any who disagreed was taken into custody.
8| ZARAPHANA (MINT) – KING ROSTOM’S BATHHOUSE.
The Zaraphana building King Rostom’s Bathhouse is located next to the Patriarch’s residence. While the oldest known mint is known to have been functioning and producing the first coins with Georgian inscriptions in Tbilisi already in the 6th c. this mint dates back to 1804 when it resumed operation after the pause caused by annexation of Georgia by the Russian Empire.
9| 4, SHAVTELI STREET.
KARI (COURT) CHURCH OF ST. GEORGE.
According to a legend the first church – that of Archangel – in this spot was built by King Vakhtang Gorgasali, the founder of Tbilisi City. The current hall-type church dates back to the 18th c. The oldest archaeological layers, though, such as old graves and sarcophagi, belong to the 4-5th cc. i.e. are as old as Tbilisi city itself.
10| SHAVTELI STREET AND ANCHISKHATI BASILICA
The Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary is the oldest surviving church in Tbilisi, situated in Shavteli Street of Upper Kala. Built in the 6th c. the church is a three-nave basilica. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed Anchiskhati (i.e., icon of Anchi) in 1675 when the treasured icon of the Savior created by the twelfth-century goldsmith Beka Opizari at the Anchi was moved to Tbilisi to preserve it from an Ottoman invasion. The icon was preserved at the Basilica of St Mary for centuries and is presently on display at the Art Museum of Georgia.
1| KIACHELI STREET.
Church of St. Andrew the Protokletos, referred simply as the Blue Monastery is located at the end of Kiacheli St. in the center of the city.
According to historical annals the first monastery of St. John the Evangelist was founded here in the 7th c. and the current church was built in the 12th c. Devastated by a Persian invasion in the 16th c. the monastery was finally rebuilt in the 19th c.
The Kashveti Church of St. George is a Georgian Orthodox church in central Tbilisi, across the Parliament building in Rustaveli Avenue. The name “kashveti” is derived from Georgian words kva for “a stone” and shva “to give birth”. Legend has it the prominent 6th-century monk David of Gareja, of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers, was accused by a woman of making her pregnant in Tbilisi. David prophesied his denial would be proved when she gave birth to a stone. She did, and the place received the name of “k(v)ashveti”. The church stands out for its beautiful decoration of the altar painted by the prominent Georgian artist Lado Gudiashvili in 1947.
The history of the Mamadaviti (Father David) Church takes start from the 6th c. when Assyrian Father David of Gareja cut out a small cave in the hill erected in the west of the town and made a small chapel nearby. According to a legend, Father David prayed to God to give him a spring of water that could cure various diseases and he was granted the wish. Soon after Father David left Tbilisi and moved to Gareja, but Tbilisi inhabitants preserved the respect and gratitude they felt for him for centuries and gave his name to the mountain. The church is surrounded by a terrace serving as a pantheon of famous writers and poets. The curative spring still flows nearby. Mtatsminda is also a popular place, especially in summer, and Tbilisi inhabitants frequent its beautiful park and amusement facilities to escape the heat of the city.
This route offers the visitor an opportunity to take a look at the old galleried houses typical for Tbilisi architecture. Many writers and poets have noted Tbilisi is a multi-galleried city where centuries coexist and where the train of time has stopped. Balconies, all sorts – wooden, glass, open, carved, galleried yards – are a real charming trademark of Tbilisi City.
1| 8, DUMAS STREET.
The residential house dates back to the mid 1800s and is one of the noteworthy examples of buildings with a mezzanine floor in Tbilisi. Its artistic features are made distinct with a two-layered traced gallery.
2| 13, DUMAS STREET.
The two-storey house dates back to the mid 1800s and is one of the artistically refined examples of residential buildings in Tbilisi. Its façade follows the street curve and is decorated with a tri-pillared arched windowed gallery. The side overlooking the yard is decorated with another gallery. This windowed balcony is one of the best in Tbilisi.
3| 56, VERSTKHLI STREET.
The residential house was built in 1860. Its proportions and significance in urban development are worth noting. This was the place where one of the city gates – namely, Digomi
gate – was located. The house has three different facades: one overlooking the yard is lined with a hanging wooden balcony; the second is directed to Alexandre Dumas Street and is filled with a brick wall with pilasters, and the third – a wooden balcony – is hanging over the corner of the streets.
4| BARATASHVILI STREET.
Residential houses decorated with beautiful balconies run along the street from its start to its end. They were reconstructed to the current status by architect Kavlashvili in 1979.
5| 15, CHAKHRUKHADZE STREET.
This 19th c. residential house has two facades. One of them, classicistic in style overlooks Chakhrukhadze Street and the other – lined with a balcony – is directed towards Shavteli Street.
6| 10, EREKLE II SQUARE.
Residential house built in the mid 1800s. The two-storey house has a noteworthy wooden hanging balcony. The roofed gallery with carved railings harmonizes with the classicistic elements of the façade.
7| 4, AKOPIANI STREET.
The 19th c. residential house is a classical example of Tbilisi architecture and stands out for its artistic significance.
8| 21, EREKLE STREET.
The three-storey house dates back to the 19th c. Its façade is marked by a charming two-storey balcony lined with iron tracery. The classicistic and baroque façade harmonizes with the light iron balconies. The house stands out for its refined proportions.
9| 2, GUDIASHVILI SQUARERE.
Editorial of the Literaturuli Sakartvelo newspaper is one of the oldest among the remaining buildings dating back to the 19th c. Visitors must pay attention to its moucharaby-style decorations and carved arches with traces of classicistic elements.
10| 2, LERMONTOV STREET.
The residential house dating back to the 19th c. is a classical example of a traditional Tbilisi residential building. Its yard-overlooking side is a harmonious entirety of wooden balconies and elements of European architecture.
11| 34, DADIANI STREET.
This two-storey house is one of the oldest among its fine neighbors. Its wooden hanging and richly decorated balcony follows the curve of the corner.
12| 8, AMAGHLEBA STREET.
These buildings dating back to the mid 1800s stand out for their classicistic elements and hanging, carved wooden balconies. Their traditional galleries overlook the yard.
13| 8, BETHLEHEM STREET.
This building defines the architectural character of the Bethlehem slope along with other buildings. It is well fit into the cliffy landscape and has two facades, decorated with two-layered wooden balconies. The house was built in 1830.
14| 3, BETHLEHEM STREET.
This two-storey residential building that dates back to the 19th c. defines the entire character of the district. The gallery with the carved railings that lines the façade is one of the most outstanding in Tbilisi. The house is further enriched by a wooden windowed staircase.
15| 4, GOMI STREET.
This residential building dating back to the early 1800s is perched on a cliff adjacent to the Ateshgah temple. While artistically important as a whole, it stands out for its moucharaby galleries.
16| HOUSES IN ABANO STREET
The galleried houses in Abano Street are typical examples of traditional Tbilisi architecture.
17| HOUSES IN METEKHI PLATEAU. OLD METEKHI HOTEL
Houses in Metekhi Plateau and Ruisi Street are very important both for their aesthetic value and significance in urban development. The galleried houses perched on the cliff overlook the Mtkvari creating a unique atmosphere characteristic to Tbilisi only. Old Metekhi Hotel certainly stands out among other buildings. First built in 1830, it was further reconstructed and rebuilt in 1976-1978 by architects G. Japaridze and V. Orbeladze.
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