Tbilisi For Beginners
06 January, 2016
Tbilisi For Beginners
Dariko, an Ukrainian blogger who is a big fan of Georgia and whose stories are already known to many readers, offers us her first small guide to basic places of Tbilisi for the beginners at Favoroute.com. Dariko, who has been living in Georgia since 2013 has already accumulated a substantial knowledge about Georgia, its culture and sights that she wants to share with us.

Here is how her first guide starts:

"So, you landed in Tbilisi. Welcome! What are your
expectations? Maybe, something ancient? Maybe, something Soviet? Maybe, something modern? Or maybe, all together? You will be amazed by the weird mixture of different cultural influences here!

Let's start our trip at the Freedom Square, one of the main points of orientation in the city. You have two options of an Old Town walk: the first one along the Pushkin street and old city walls, which date back to XII-XIII centuries, to Baratashvili bridge and then Shavteli street, where you can see the bizarre tower of Gabriadze Theatre. Every hour an angel appears at the small balcony on its top and rings the bell. Cafe Gabriadze next to the theatre is an extremely lovely and well-decorated place (Rezo Gabriadze, famous Georgian art director of movies and performances, embodied all his ideas in this design), but a bit pricey as well. Though you will be satisfied with taste and quality!

Gabriadze Theatre
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Right next to the Gabriadze place you will see the oldest basilica in Tbilisi, Anchiskhati. It was built in VI century, then partially damaged and restored, but in the end remained undestroyed till now, even though Tbilisi suffered from multiple invasions, being occupied by external enemies around 20 times! It's worth it to come in and take a look.

Walk along Shavteli street, where the residence of Patriarch of Georgian Orthodox Church is situated. The Patriarch has great influence on people here! Then your next point of view will be the Bridge of Peace, a massive glass construction which reminds on the time of Mikheil Saakashvili, the most controversial reformator in the modern history of Georgia. You can also see the presidential palace constructed in this era, at one of the cliffs of the river Mtkvari. The other weird building in the park should be a concert hall, but now it is still not finished... Cross the bridge, take a walk in Rike park, and head to the cable car station.

Narikala Fortress and the Bridge of Peace
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Take a cable car up to Narikala fortress, which used to be a part of Tbilisi's fortification system from the VI century. The ride will cost you 1 lari (around 0.4 Euro as for January 2016). You can pay in the cash box or buy and charge a plastic card, which is also useable for all kinds of public transport. Narikala was also partially destroyed and reconstructed many times. The current version was damaged by the earthquake in the XIX century. As you are up, take a walk to Mother of Georgia, who is welcoming guests with a bowl of wine and warns the enemies with her sword, stroll along the forts, go inside and find another church there. Enjoy the view over Tbilisi - this is just the first point for today!

If you don't mind walking, go down on foot. It is a bit steep, but nice. You will see another corners of Old Tbilisi on your way. As you are down, head to Abanotubani, so called bath district of Tbilisi. The city started there - according to the legend, in the V century AD the King Vakhtang Gorgasali was hunting in the forests nearby. His falcon followed a peasant, and both birds disappeared in the woods. As the King and his people found them, they were both boiled in a hot sulfur spring. Gorgasali thought that founding a city here would be a nice idea. The name Tbilisi derives from the Georgian word "tbili", which means "warm".

Abanotubani

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Actually visiting a sulfur bath would be a great option to explore authentic Tbilisi! The prices vary from 3 lari for a public common bath up to 150 lari for big separate room for several people with a sulfur pool and sauna. Massage and scrubbing usually cost 10 lari for each service. You can have a bath in the morning after a party night, or just go there on the rainy day or in the evening. Sunny days are for exploring the other parts! For example, if you go deeper into this bath district, following the small river, you will find a real waterfall!

If you are hungry after such a walk, my idea for lunch would be Maspindzelo or Bread House (Puris Sakhli). The second one is a bit more expensive, but food is good in both of them. Then we can proceed to the next viewpoints and parts of the city.

Cross the Metekhi Bridge and make a short photo stop next to the monument to Vakhtang Gorgasali, the above mentioned founder of Tbilisi. Then, in 15 minutes walking through the rustic streets of Avlabari, the historical Armenian part of the city, or a shorter taxi ride for 2 lari, you will find yourself next to Sameba (Trinity) Cathedral, the huge modern church, which is considered to be the main church of Georgia at the moment. There is a beautiful garden around it, and you can also see Tbilisi from the other bank of the river and from the other hill as well. In the yard of Sameba there is also a small shop/cafeteria, where you can eat typical Georgian cheese breads (khachapuri) and drink Laghidze waters, the most prominent Georgian lemonade.

Walk back to the Old Town from Sameba - now it's the time to see another small part of it. If you are next to Gorgasali monument and small Meidani Square again, you can go deep into small bar district of Tbilisi, which is actually worth exploring in the night, or walk up through Kote Apkhazi (Leselidze) street with a lot of souvenir shops and a couple of interesting cafes as well. The street leads you to Freedom Square again.

Some interesting historical streets can also be found just around the square: if you are interested to see old Tbilisi's courtyards and to see life of real people, go deeper to Dadiani, Tabidze, Leonidze and Machabeli streets. You will also find plenty of fine examples of Tbilisian art-nouveau buildings there!

In the evening I'd recommend either to to explore that bar district (Shardeni, Bambis rigi streets) or also have some good Georgian food in Shavi Lomi restaurant (Amaghleba str. 13). It is a bit hidden, but the food is worth it!", Dariko writes.

Read full story by Dariko at Favoroute.com

Also visit Dariko.net for more interesting stories by Dariko.
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