Old Tbilisi walking tour of architecture and hidden treasures
04 May, 2016
Old Tbilisi walking tour of architecture and hidden treasures
A foreign couple who enjoy traveling around the world and run their own travel blog named Travel the World, paid a visit to Georgia and dedicated special article to Tbilisi’s old and unique architecture. Here is what their article says:

"When I told the only other person I know who has traveled to Georgia that we were heading to this magnificent country, one of her many suggestions was to set aside time to walk through old Tbilisi to soak in
the crumbling architecture and iconic Tbilisi balconies. So when our guide Anna offered to take us on an old Tbilisi walking tour to see the Art Nouveau architecture, we immediately said yes.

We were surprised to learn that there was more for tourists to Tbilisi to see than just what is visible from the street. If we hadn’t had a guide, we would have never known that additional treasures were held inside the entryways of these Art Nouveau homes. (By the way, in case your knowledge of architectural styles is as minimal as mine, Art Nouveau is a style of architecture and design with linear and curving designs that was popular from the late 19th century until World War I.) As many of them are now apartment buildings, it is sometimes possible to pass into the entryways where a few still retain their ornately painted ceilings, intricate stairway metalwork, and even wall decorations as well.


We first visited a curved tall building with interesting metallic work covering the windows on Rustaveli Avenue just southeast of Vano Sarajishvili Street. But that wasn’t our destination.
We walked behind that building and found a secluded courtyard in the middle of the block with an aqua home presiding over the tiny remnant of a garden with a fountain and statues. Most of the homes along Rustaveli Avenue were destroyed, but this one was saved because the son of the family acted as a doctor to Stalin and he asked for the home to be saved from destruction. The same family still lives in the home today and it is an example of how these old homes can be restored to continue standing for another century.
We continued passing through the block, walking through hidden courtyards surrounded by more modern and functional wood paneled balconies, some enclosed, some with clothes hanging from the line, until the block emptied out onto Alexander Griboedov Street. Heading southeast, we passed the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts and continued gazing at crumbling facades until we reached No. 14 Alexander Griboedov Street. This home was built by an Armenian gentleman with a successful fish business. The residence has two entries because he used the upstairs for his home and rented out the first level.
While gawking at and taking pictures of the painted ceiling inside, something unprecedented occurred. Two women who live in the building came home and asked if we wanted to come inside their home and see what the rooms looked like inside! Anna said this never happens, even if Georgians are known for the boundless hospitality. They might have thought we were foreign investors who might have the ability to help restore the building, or maybe they could just tell we were genuinely entranced by the building they call home. The lavish decoration, like carved wood trim painted with pastels and gold, which remains intact in their apartment is stunning. They told us their apartment was originally a guest room or entertaining room that held just one piano. Now the rooms of what used to be a residence for one family are separated into multiple apartments.
Our next Art Nouveau entryway along our old Tbilisi walking tour was across the street at No. 15 Alexander Griboedov Street. This was originally the home of an Armenian businessman who specialized in French wine.

This is the beginning of the Sololaki District, which used to have a water system used to water the gardens. One hour of watering would cost one silver coin. In the middle of the 19th century, the Russians blocked the water channels and made the area a dry area. The land of the Sololaki District became very expensive and European-style buildings designed by the best Georgian, Russian, and Armenian architects were erected in this part of Tbilisi, mostly between 1880 and 1910. The Sololaki District has also been called little Paris because the streets are set up in a grid pattern rather than curving and winding every which way like in other parts of Tbilisi.
Turn your eyes up at No. 3 Giorgi Leonidze Street, which used to house the Tbilisi Mutual Credit Society. An Armenian architect decorated the outside with Pluto and Mercury. A third story was added during Soviet times, but fortunately, this addition did not alter the original decorative appearance of the building.

A few doors down we stepped into No. 8 Giorgi Leonidze Street. It just looks like a standard drug store from the outside. The previous occupant of this building needed to pay off his debt so entered the Russian army. For his service in the war with Turkey in 1878 he was given the building as a gift. He had always wanted to be a pharmacist, and his pharmacy became quite popular. Today his original pharmacy cabinets still stand, but now they are filled with Nestle. Across the street from the pharmacy is an unusual looking building, even for old Tbilisi. Through the oval entryway with its sunflower façade used to be a women’s glove maker shop.
I don’t know the story behind No. 9 Geronti Kikodze Street, but I love the metalwork of the curving staircase. This is one of the brighter of the entryways of old Tbilisi. The walls have been painted solid colors, but the artfully painted ceiling still remains, though it is hanging on by a thread as it is cracked, with small sections looking like they might drop to the floor at any second.


When we entered the doors of 4 Daniel Chonqadze Street, we were greeted by a dark entry with seemingly endless flights of stairs heading upwards. This house looks down at all the other houses around and has two entrances, one from the street above and one from the street below. While the lower half is strictly graffitied white walls, as we ascended the stairs we encountered wall decorations and water damaged painted ceilings. We walked out a door at the top which led into a small hidden garden. The outside is different from the surrounding Tbilisi architecture as it has more of an English Tudor look.
Our final stop on our old Tbilisi architecture walking tour was about a block up from Jerusalimi Street at No. 4-6 Betlemi Street. As you’ll notice from the street names, this is the Jewish Quarter of Old Tbilisi and this is a typical Jewish wooden house with an outdoor covered entrance with stained glass and an ornate wraparound balcony with lace-like latticework", - The article reads.

Read full article at Travel the World

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