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112 years since Tbilisi Funicular was established
27 March, 2017
Exactly 112 years ago today, on March 27th, 1905 all of Tbilisi was gathered near Davit’s hillside waiting for the crazy men who might dare to travel in the new railway that would carry them up the steep slope.

The anonymous Belgian owner of the funicular offered a large sum of money to those who would  be the first to go up and back down the mountain. His effort was successful and inhabitants of Tbilisi eventually got used to the mountainside railway. It didn’t take long for the cable railway to become one of the symbols and popular attractions of the city.

Originally the railway was constructed not for pleasure but with more serious purpose in mind. At the end of the 19th century, the city was built along the Mtkavri River in such way that it was difficult to move within the city limits. Due to this problem, it was decided to build “Upper Tbilisi” on the Mtatsminda (the Holy Mountain) plateau. However, the main problem remained; how to connect the “Upper Tbilisi” with the “Lower Tbilisi”. The Belgian company, owner of the Tbilisi railway network presented an effective solution. It was decided to construct a cable railway that would connect the old district with the new one.

According to the agreement, signed in 1900, the Belgians were granted ownership of the funicular with a 45-year lease; after which, the mountain tram would become city property.

The funicular was built in 1903-1905 and it was quite an international project for that time. In its construction: French, Italian, Belgian, Polish, Russian, Georgian engineers, architects and builders were all involved. Finally on March 27th, 1905 at 10 o’clock funicular was opened with a grand celebration. At first people were afraid that the cable might break and they refused to travel in the tram-like vehicle. When they finally realized it was safe, they all lined up with enthusiasm to buy tickets.

Unfortunately, the plan to build a new district on top of  the mountain failed due to water supply problems and the Russian revolution that started in 1905.

In 1921, Bolsheviks invaded the country and came into power. The Belgian company was inevitably deprived of the funicular as well as other properties.

Yet, the funicular has maintained its beauty and found its place in Georgian architecture as the boldest landmark designed by the most courageous people.

The Tbilisi funicular continues to function today, offering an amazing view of the city.

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