Discover Georgia
Tbilisi was a city of millionaires in the past
06 August, 2018
Tbilisi is a very lively city that changes its appearance nearly every day. Because of this, it is easy to forget what the original appearance used to be.
Nodar Sumbadze is a photographer who tries to preserve the memory and images of old buildings and their exterior and he does this with the help of his camera. He takes photos in the historic part of Tbilisi – Sololaki and advices others to do the same.
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A house in Sololaki in the 19th
century

He says that his simple camera has captured buildings that do not exist any more. “It has happened to me several times “I take a photo of a certain building and after a few days it is gone”. He emphasizes that Sololaki was built in the 19th century, but outside of the walls of the old city.
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Interior of one of the houses. No doubt it belonged to a rich owner

Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov, Governor-General of the South Caucasus was the first one to decide to build Sololaki in a European style. Like the streets of the USA, parallel streets were crossed by vertical ones (the grid style) in Sololaki. In the 1870’s the Tbilisian bourgeoisie started to build new houses and mansions.
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Some of the 19th century houses were reconstructed to maintain their original appearance

Sololaki was a district of millionaires in Tbilisi. They used to bring designers and architects from Europe. Dresses from Paris used to arrive in Tbilisi in three days, says Nodar.

Unfortunately, Bolsheviks turned these houses into dormitories and housed representatives of the proletariat there.
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A house in Sololaki with mythic statues

Nodar emphasizes that even though these houses were designed by European architects, their appearance is a blend of European and Asiatic style. Their exterior frontage was usually European in style, whilst the rear of the houses was Asian in style, with wooden ladders and decorative balconies.
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The 19th century house with decorative balcony

“If the Bolsheviks had not destroyed the majority of these houses, Tbilisi would have been one of the wealthiest cities in the world” – says Nodar.

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