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Tbilisi Sightseeing

Baratashvili Street

Baratashvili Street is a place from which you can begin sightseeing of the old town. It can be called “a street of contrasts” as “the past” and “the present” are here opposite each other. To the right there are modern buildings – to the left – old houses with balconies in the national style.

Old fortress wall

In Baratashvili street, there are well preserved and partially restored fragments of an old fortress wall with towers. On the wall there is a cast iron plate with the inscription: “This defensive wall of ancient Tbilisi was revealed in 1977″. It began from the city’s citadel (Narikala), passed through Sololaki range, descended along the slope and continued in the direction of the modern streets: Dadiani, Pushkin and Baratashvili, ended at the Mktvari (Kura) River. There used to be Digomi Gates and Mukhrantubani region in this place.

Monument to Shota Kavlashvili

At the beginning of baratashvili street there is a Monument to the Georgian architect Shota Kavlashvili (1999), the author of reconstruction and renewal of the old areas of the city.

Monument to Iohann Petritsi

Not far from the town wall stands another monument to the Georgian neo-Platonic philosopher of the 12th century Iohann Petritsi.


Konka (horsecar) appeared in Tbilisi 1883. First it was used for carrying goods, but later it was used for common ordinary people. In 1904 it was replaced by a tram, but people could not part with it. And it’s standing as a cafe in the street.

Toys museum

While descending the Baratashvili street you are attracted by a manycolored building – it is toys museum (architect Sh. Kavlashvili). The building is located on the embankment, between Baratashvili and Shavteli streets. The main facade faces Baratashvili street, the side one – the embankment.

Compositon “Berikaoba”

The sculpture Composition ”Berikaoba” (Berikaoba is Georgian national free celebration holiday not restricted in time and space. It is Georgian folk improvising mask Theatre performed in the streets.) in front of the toys museum is created by the sculptor A. Monaselidze and architect G.Janberidze (1981).

Sculpture of a janitor

Sculpture of a janitor
On the same site there is a sculpture of a janitor performed in accordance with a picture of a well known Georgian artist Niko Pirosmani.


Anchiskhati basilica and its bell tower (6th century), the oldest one in the city, erected in the times of the heir of Vakhtang Gorgasali – Dachi Ujarmeli. Due to its venerable age and influence of the Palestinian architecture this church resembles a three-nave basilica. Its present name was given to the church in the 17th century. “Anchiskhati” originates from Georgian words “anchis” (from Anchi) and “khati’ (icon). The icon of Savior decorated by a famous goldsmith Beka Opizari, who lived in the times of Queen Tamara, was kept in an ancient Georgian town Anchi (now it is in Klarjeti on the territory of Turkey). When during one of the Turkish invasions it became clear that the town could not be retained, the icon was transferred to Tbilisi and placed in this church. Now this icon is kept in the Arts Museum of Georgia. The church had several alterations, especially in the 17th century, when the upper part of the church, several columns and bell tower were sculpted in brick again. The oldest parts of the church are the walls in stone, window frames on the eastern facade and window above the altar.

Bust of Titsian Tabidze

Near Anchiskhati church, at the embankment side stands a bronze bust of the remarkable Georgian poet Titsian Tabidze (1895 – 1937) – one of the organizers of the Georgian symbolical group “Blue Horns”. He fell victim to Stalin’s Great Purge, being arrested and executed on trumped-up charges of treason. Tabidze was a close friend of the well-known Russian writer Boris Pasternak who translated his poetry into Russian.

Erekle II Square

Shavteli street ends in the square of Erekle II. In 1638 on the square between Sioni and Anchiskhati churches the king Rostom built a palace and this square was named Royal Square (during Aga-Mahomet-Khan invasion in 1795 the palace was fully destroyed). The local citizens gathered together and discussed news there. That is why this place was called “Salakbo” (meaning “chattering”).

The residence of the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church

In front of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church we can see a square with a small fountain – a gift of “the town of Paris to the town of Tbilisi” From this square begins the wonderful street named after Erekle the Second. Grape vines “Izabella” grow directly on this street.

Sioni Church

One of the famous memorials in the old city – Sioni Church in honour of Virgin Assumption or just Sioni. The street is correspondingly called Sioni, where you can get via Erekle the Second street. It is called so in honour of Jerusalem Sioni. The primary construction is dated by the period of Vakhtang Gorgasali (446-499) and was completed in the seventh century. During the centuries Sioni was exposed to destruction and suffered numerous times. In 1226 Djelal-Ed-Din with a huge army invaded Georgia and occupied Tbilisi. Shah ordered to take off the dome of Sioni Cathedral and put his tent instead of it on the top, to see a burning city and tortures of Christians who didn’t disgraced holly icons. Then a lot of people were beheaded and thrown to the Mtkvari River. One hundred thousand Georgian martyrs were executed in this way. A terrible earthquake followed and the tent fell down from the top of the cathedral. In the cathedral Saint Nino’s sacred rood made from two peaces of vine fixed with each other with enlightener’s hair is kept. This rood was taken to Russia in 1752 and it was brought back only in 1801.

Monument to the Georgian poet Ietim Gurji

From the embankment side, near Sioni church there is a monument to the Georgian poet – ashug (a bard who composed and performed his own and folk songs of Caucasian peoples), a singer Ietim Gurji (1875-1940) (sculptor D.Mikatadze, architect Sh. Kavlashvili, bronze, 1985).


One can observe a building near Sioni, which used to be one of the largest in Tbilisi caravanserais of the merchant P. Artsruni at the beginning of the 19th century. Caravanserais were the biggest public constructions in the East, built on the roads and in uninhabited places where travellers could find shelter and food. The building of interest was erected on ruins (as a result of Persian invasion in the 18th century) of the caravanserai, built by king Rostom in 1650, and then gifted to the bishop of Tbilisi. Its middle part held an enormous yard with beautiful swimming baths. On the first floor there were stalls and workshops, on the second floor people traded Asian and European goods in 25 shops. In 1885 after the great fire the building was reconstructed. The facade facing Sioni street was subjected to radical alteration in the style “modern” in 1912. Since 1984 after the recurrent reconstruction the museum of the History of Tbilisi, named after I. Grishashvili – Karvasla has been functioning in this building.

Tbilisi theological seminary

In Sioni street (Sioni St. 13), just opposite the Karvasla, there is another voluminous part of the caravanserai, which belonged to the Queen Tekle, the daughter of Erekle the Second (1720–1798). It was built in the place of the former caravanserai, which was mentioned in the documents since 1672 and introduced into the plan of Tbilisi, complied by Vakhushti Bagrationi (1696–1757, Distinguished Georgian historian and geographer, one of the founders of the Moscow State University) . The preserved look of the building was formed in the 70s of the 19th century, when the trend to give “eastern” color to buildings appeared. At present one of the buildings of the former caravanserai houses Tbilisi theological seminary.

Bambis Rigi and Chradin St.

In the feudal town along Sioni and Erekle streets there was Rastabazar. “Rastabazar” is a Persian word, which means “a line of stalls and workshops arranged in one row”. At the beginning of the 20th century a trading row was built there named Mantashev Rows (Alexander Mantashev (1842 – 1911) was an oil magnate, industrialist, financier and philanthropist). The trading row consists of two houses in the style of “modern”. The first one borders on the Museum of the History of Tbilisi, and the second one divides this area into Chardin street and Bambis Rigi (Cotton Row). Bambis Rigi is one of the pedestrians and historical street of ancient Tbilisi. Still one can see Mantashev Rows, Mantashev’s house and his family coat of arms.
To the right of Bambis Rigi there is Chardin street. Chardin Street is very narrow and short, it is named after a French explorer Jan Chardin, who visited Tbilisi in 1863. That time the street was called “Dark Row”, because it was crowded with shops and workshops. Chardin St., Bambis Rigi and Erekle II St. are a great way to wander around the local art galleries and souvenir shops with a chance to refuel in one of the area’s many cafes.

Statue “Tamada”

At the beginning of Bambis rigi there is a figure of a bronze man with a horn of wine in his hands. This monument is an enlarged copy of the bronze statue called “Tamada” (toast-maker), which was discovered in archeological ruins in Western Georgia. This findings date back to the 7th century before Christ.

Chardin Street

To the right of Bambis Rigi there is Char-din street. Chardin Street is very narrow and short, it is named after a French ex-plorer Jan Chardin, who visited Tbilisi in 1863. That time the street was called “Dark Row”, because it was crowded with shops and workshops. Chardin St., Bam-bis Rigi and Erekle II St. are a great way to wander around the local art galleries and souvenir shops with a chance to refu-el in one of the area’s many cafes.

Monument to the Sergey Parajanov

At the end of Chardin street, from the embankment side, stands an excellent and exciting monument to the distinguished producer – Sergey Parajanov. The monument was made in Italy by sketches of the Georgian sculptor Vazha Mikaberidze. It was produced in accordance with the picture of the Georgian photographer Urii Mechitov, who took a picture of Parajanov ‘in flight’.

Gorgasali square

From Chardin street we can get to Gorgasali square. The square was located in front of the fortress. That is why its original name was “Tsikhismoedani”, i.e. Fortress Square. Persians possessed the fortress for a long time. The people gave the conquerors of a different faith the common name “tatars”. Due to that fact the square was renamed into Tatar Maidan, sometimes it was called Sheitan-bazar. It was the main trading square in Tbilisi. One could buy practically everything there: food stuffs, drinks, gold and silver items.

Church of Saint George “Surb-Gevorg”

From Gorgasali square arises Samgebro street, where Armenian Fortress Church of Saint George Surb-Gevorg is located. It was erected from brick under the guidance of the prince Umek in 1251. Then it was rebuilt more than once. It is considered the most ancient of the present functioning Armenian churches in Tbilisi. An Armenian poet of the 18th century, a musician, ashug (bard), a master of love lyrics Saiat-Nova was buried under the northern wall of the church.

Kote Abkhazi street

From Gorgasali Square we can go up along Kote Abkhazi street (former Leselidze street). In the middle ages the street called Shuabazari what in the transfer indicates “middle Bazar” divided the city into the upper and the lower blocks. There was no official market there,but this part of the city was always overcrowded. It was a nonofficial centre of trade. In the 19th century the street was named “Armenian bazar”. After World War II the street was renamed in honor of the Hero of the Soviet Union, General Constan-tine Leselidze. In 2007 the street was again renamed in honor of one of the leaders of National-liberation movement (1921-1923), a Georgian political, public and military worker, a general Kote Abkhazi. The street several times was reconstructed, pavements were enlarged. One can observe here peaceful neighbourhood of Jewish synagogue, Georgian Orthodox Temple – Jvaris-Mama and Armenian church – Norashen.

The synagogue

From Gorgasali square arises Samgebro street, where Armenian Fortress Church of Saint George Surb-Gevorg is located. It was erected from brick under the guidance of the prince Umek in 1251. Then it was rebuilt more than once. It is considered the most ancient of the present functioning Armenian churches in Tbilisi. An Armenian poet of the The synagogue was built at the end of the 19th century. The Georgian Synagogue is famous as Big Synagogue. It was established by the Jews from Akhaltsikhe, who settled in Tbilisi at the end of the 19th century, so its second name is “synagogue of Jews from Akhaltsikhe”. The synagogue was made from bricks, in eclectic style, between 1895 and 1913 and then decorated with the cupola and lantern. According to Jewish tradition, the building is directed to Jerusalem (to the south) along its longitudinal axis (from the entrance, in direction to Aron Akosheda). The main gates of the synagogue are decorated with David’s Star. century, a musician, ashug (bard), a master of love lyrics Saiat-Nova was buried under the northern wall of the church.

Church Jvaris-Mama

Jvaris-Mama – this name comes from a Georgian church in Jerusalem. On this very place there was a small temple in the 5th century which was destroyed by Mongols’ invasion. The church was restored in the 16th century. During Aga-Mohamed-Khan conquest it was repeatedly demolished. Then it was renewed in 1825. Reconstruction works are now going on.

Church “Norashen”

To the right of Jvaris-Mama there is an Armenian church Norashen. Norashen means “newly built” in Armenian. The church was founded by Sadat in 1467. In 1650 Khoja Nazar rebuilt nearly demolished church, the cupola of which was created by the master Petros. Further on the church was repeatedly restored in 1795, 1808 and 1875. The interior of the church was decorated with frescoes by Ovnatan Ovnatanian, who was a court artist of Erekle the Second. In Soviet times the church was converted into a library. In the western part of the church there is an untouched tomb-stone on the grave of the merchant and patron of art Tamamshev and his wife. The names of this branchy merchant’s clan are often met in Tbilisi toponymy (place-name study). Nowadays the church is not functioning.

The Museum of Jewish History

While going up Abkhazi street we can see Anton Catalicos street when turning to the right. Here we find the Museum of Jewish History in Georgia named after David Baazov. The Museum is in the building of a former cupola synagogue of the 19th century. During the Soviet regime, in the 20s, the synagogue was closed. Now it is being reconstructed and is closed for a while.

Armenian church “Surb-Nishan“

Going back to Abkhazi street and turning to the right from Anton Catalicos street we can see Vertskhli (silver) street with an old Armenian church Surb-Nishan, which means “a sign of a cross”, and in a figurative sense it is a church of a saint cross. It was constructed in 1701. The church combines decor elements both of traditional Armenian and Eastern origin. At present the church is not functioning.

Monument to the general K. Leselidze

At the corner of Abkhazi and Vertskhli streets there is a monument to the general K. Leselidze (1903-1944, Soviet Colonel-General and a USSR hero) (sculptor I. Nikoladze, marble, 1947).

Catholic church named after Saint Virgin Mary

The church (Polish Roman-Catholic church) was built in the first half of the 19th century. When the architect Zaltsman in 1874 built another Polish Roman-Catholic church, the first one was called “old”, and the street, where it stands, is called Old Catholic. At Soviet times it was named 1st May street, but at the beginning of the 90s it got the name of Alexandre Dumas street in honor of the remarkable French writer, who stayed in Tbilisi, liked it very much and left its picturesque description. At Soviet times it was rearranged as a storehouse and in the course of time the building was considerably dilapidated. Before Rome Pope’s visit to Georgia in 1999, this Polish Roman-Catholic church was restored and now beside catholic messes one can listen to organ music there. The major part of its parish are Georgian Catholics and Poles.


Our second tourist route begins with Aba-notubani (bath quarter), where we can get from Gorgasali Square to the street of the same name and it is an area of functio-ning sulfur baths, from which the constru-ction of the Georgian capital practically be-gan. According to the legend, sulfur spri-ngs were discovered by the Georgian king Vakhtang Gorgasali during hunting. The springs flew out of Tabor mountain. The quarter itself has several names. At first it got the name of Tbilisi, as the city is called now. And in reality, the city arose from it. In the 17th century a tribe of seids got the-re from Persia and since then this region was called Seid-abad (“seid-abad” means “a settlement of seids”). Later, at the be-ginning of the 18th century the quarter got the name of Kharpukhi, which means “a cold”. According to the legend, one of the fugitives, having caught a cold, touched a stone near Bath Gates with his nose and after that his cold disappeared. The citi-zens of whole town began pilgrimage the-re to cure from colds. In fact, Kharpukhi is not only Bath Quarter, but the whole area between Seid-abad and Ortachala, a vil-lage of the same name at the slopes of the mountain Tabor. Soon this area got the name of Abanotubani. On the whole, the bath quarter consists of two streets: to the right – Botanical and to the left – Grishashvili. The main baths face Grishashvili street, which is parallel to the embankment, but somewhat higher than it. The street is separated from the Mtkvari river by dwelling houses and other const-ructions.

Monument to Niko Pirosmanashvili

There, where the Bath area begins, in the middle of a green grass-plot on low flat foundations there is a monument to Niko Pirosmanashvili (Niko Pirosmanashvili, generally known as Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918) was a Georgian primitivist painter.). The knelt, bear-footed artist presses a helpless lamb to his breast (sculptor E. Amashukeli, 1975).

Sulphur baths

Tbilisi has long been famous for the natu-ral piping-hot sulphur water that bubbles out of the ground along the banks of the Mtkvari River. The oldest bath is the Ere-kle’s Bath. Orbeliani (blue) bath with an arrow-like facade and minarets on its side is distinguished from the baths located on Abano (bath) street. It is also called “Chre-li abano” (motley bath), as it got its name because of the motley tiles covered the portal. It was redecorated in the eastern manner in the second half of the 19th cen-tury. The plaque to the left of them reveals the thoughts of Great Russian writer Ale-xander Pushkin: “I have never in my life co-me across anything better than baths in Tiflis”. “A great sense of freedom and well-being permeated me. All my tiredness had gone and I felt h3 enough to lift a mountain” – Alexandre Dumas, after a visit to the sulphur baths in 1858. A hundred years later Russian writer Alexey Tolstoy said, that “when sitting in a marble swim-ming-pool a man feels like either Pompey or Lucullus”. All the baths are below the ground level and are overlapped by semi-circular do-mes and are naturally lit via a glass lan-tern over the cupola. In ancient times peo-ple could have a bath whenever they liked and could stay in the bath till dawn. The ci-tizens used to spend their leisure time, gave formal dinner-parties and went on the spree in the baths. Women were allo-wed only on special days. Town match-makers often arranged bride-shows there. Fed by naturally hot mineral waters, the sulphur baths have been an essential part of Tbilisi life for centuries. Why not come and try it for yourself?


Botanical street with its narrow blind al-leys and stepped yards is rather typical for a street going up a mountainous relief. At the turn of the street, in its middle part there is the only functioning mosque with a minaret under the white and blue cupo-la, which was built in 1864 on the spot where an old mosque used to be. Before the Soviet occupation there was another mosque in Tbilisi – a Shiite one, built by Shah Abbas close to Metekhi bridge, but it was destroyed in 1950. Since then Tbili-si Moslems have performed Mohamme-dan prayers in the Sunnite mosque. This is an unprecedented case when in spite of historic opposition Shiites and Sunnites go to pray into the same mosque.

Tbilisi botanical garden

Behind the mosque spreads Tbilisi Bota-nical Garden for many square miles along. It is located in the gorge Tsavkis-Tskali, bet-ween Tabor and Sololaki Ranges and on their slopes. The Garden was established on the basis of the palace (“fortress”) gar-den existing since 1625. All the year ro-und one can see there unusual beautiful plants, falls at the height of 40 meters and a small bridge across the river with won-derful flowers. Another main entrance is in Asatiani street between the houses #28 & #30 and it represents a tunnel going into the garden.


At the peak of Sololaki Range there are ruins of Narikala (“impregnable fortress”). Whenever you go around old Tbilisi – you can see it everywhere. The spot for fort-ress construction was chosen extremely successfully: the road along the riverbed Mtkvari is shot from all sides. Judging by such a location, it becomes clear, that Tbi-lisi was set up as a military base to control the road. The unique strategic position was taken into consideration by both local ru-lers and foreign conquerors, and both of them turned Narikala into their residence and headquarters. One can see here, that the fortress is on the top of the mountain and it “slides” down, to a smaller peak. The technique of the wall construction is astounding – powerful cobble-stones re-surveyed by huge bricks. Some places of its towers are intricately decorated with bricks. The wall merlons have not been preserved everywhere. Under the fortress there is a single tower, which might have been served as an entrance. This tower nearly descends to the quarter of warm springs. In the system of fortification cons-tructions dominates a tall four-angle don-jon – Istanbul tower with crumbled top. It was erected in the second half of the 16th century and got its name “Istanbul tower” within a short period of Turkish domina-tion, when Turks imprisoned unsubdued citizens there. On its western side coming to a single gentle slope of the crest there is a powerful frame of a tower fort Shah-Takhti (“throne of shah” in Persian). In the 7-9th centuries an Observatory was held there. The appearance of this citadel is referred to the 4th century after Christ. Earlier the fortress was called Shuris Tsi-khe (“fortress of envy”). Its present name – “Narikala” – the fortress received during Mongols’ invasion and it ( the name) co-mes from “Narin-Kala”, where the word “kala” is of Arabian origin and means “for-tress, fortification”, Tatar “kale” (“rock, for-tress”) and Mongolian “narin” (“minor”) – i.e. Minor Fortress. The citadel was built by the order of Vakhtang Gorgasali (4-5th centuries). But it was considerably increa-sed by Arabs in 7-8th centuries. In the ci-tadel itself, in its lower part, there is Saint Nicholas Temple. It appeared at the edge of the 12-13 centuries and has been rece-ntly fully reconstructed. The temple on the site of its present construction existed sin-ce 1122 as minimum, when David the Buil-der entered the residence of the former emir. And before that there might have been Emir’ mosque on the temple’s spot.

Statue of Mother Georgia

A promenade alley (Sololaki one), paved along the ridge in 1935, rests the ruins of Narikala fortress. There is a gigantic sta-tue of Mother Georgia, Symbol of the na-tion’s legendary spirit. High on a pineco-vered hill above Tbilisi, the 65-foot woman holds a bowl of wine in one hand and a sword in the other. Centuries of invasions and foreign occupation have taught Geor-gians that the best defense is treating all outsiders as guests, feeding them and flat-tering them with toasts until everyone gets along like old friends. The cup in her left hand is filled with Georgian wine for fri-ends, but the sword in the right is a war-ning to enemies. It was designed as a sy-mbol of the nation by Elguja Amashukeli and put up in 1958.


Near the monument of the “Kartlis Deda” hardly more to the right from Narikala, ru-ins of a brick vaulted structure are kept. The temple of Fire-admirers was standing there. The temple was called Ateshgah. This name occurs from the Persian words “atesh kadey” that means a temple of fire. Ateshgah was founded in the 5th century. In King Vakhtang Gorgasali’s period it was known that Persians were Fire-ad-mirers. Arabians as well as Persians who invaded after them were already Muslims; nevertheless the temple was not touched possibly because of superstitious horror and not because of the desire to keep an ancient monument; however the interdic-tion was broken approximately in 1720 by the Turkish, who were mocked above the temple. Here opinions are divided: some people say that they completely broke the construction and erected the mosque ins-tead. Anyhow after the Turks exile the mo-sque was destroyed and ancient ruins we-re left by themselves. For centuries this construction had lost its function. Atesh-gah as the monument of the ancient peri-od was protected by the Georgian kings. This fact is a graphic evidence of old tra-dition of religious tolerance and a wise state policy certain by good understan-ding of historical validity of the country.

Bethlehem church

At the foot of Narikala fortress, from the northern side, in the quarter of Kldis Uba-ni (meaning “a quarter of rock”) there is Be-thlehem church. Bethlehem Church was founded in the fifth century when King Va-khtang Gorgasali rained. The church has been reconstructed numerous times, which basically changed its original aspects. Ge-orgian autocephalous after being abolis-hed by Russian, church Bethlehem was bought by the Armenians and nun-mo-nastery was founded there instead, but la-ter being left without any function the church was given back to Georgian Pa-triarchy.

Betlemi Street-stairs

Here begins a street-staircase, characteri-stic for Kldis Ubani, which Tbilisi citizens call Petkhain. The project of this staircase was designed by a province architect T. Beloy in 1850. Descending Petkhain stair-case, we find ourselves in Asatiani street. At Puris Moedani (“bread square”) we pass on to Jerusalem street. Via a short street of Jerusalem we can get to the section of Kote Abkhazi street, near the territory, on which there are two churches in the immedi-ate proximity – Jvaris Mama and Norashen.


Our next route begins with Sololaki region. It is one of the most ecologically clean parts of the city. This district begins from Freedom square and ends at the mount Mtatsminda. According to the story the Arabs built a canal in this area to water the gardens. Canal in Arabian language is “sululakh” and since that period the place is called Sololaki. While going along Sololaki street you can understand why Tbilisi has been called “Caucasian Paris” – it is thanks to this special atmosphere of peace, language mix, cosmopolitan architecture of the 19-20th centuries. Tbilisi houses of that period by their splendour and quality co-uld be compared with patterns of Euro-pean “modern”: ambitious owners ordered the construction of their mansions to the best architects of the city. By the end of the 19th century Sololaki had become a prestigious district, built by bourgeoisie with fashionable residences and profitable houses in “modern” style. It is worth mentioning that today’s Sololaki looks like exactly as it did in those remote times and on some doorways decorated with marble crumbles, one can read the Latin writing SALVE (“Welcome”) or surnames of the former owners. Some old people do remember the names of the clerks, major manufacturers, bankers and merchants, whom these wonderful hou-ses belonged to. During this walk we’d like to acquaint you with the best patters of Tbilisi architecture of 19-20th centuries in “modern” style and other ones. In these streets you can prove yourself that you see a “piece” of old Tbi-lisi and understand that “the old” when spe-aking about Tbilisi is referred first of all to the style, to its recurrence in spite of all fu-rther reconstructions and alterations. The-se houses contain more information about Tbilisi than any book on history.

National Bank of Georgia

From Freedom Square you can go up along Leonidze street where on its right, at the distance of 20-30 meters you can see the building of the National Bank of Georgia – the former Mutual Credit Society. The buil-ding was erected in 1913 (architect M.Oga-janov). Abbreviated names of the organi-zation – the first owners of that credit de-partment has been preserved – T.O.B.K.- (Tbi-lisi Mutual Credit Society). When Soviet po-wer was established the building was con-fiscated and given to the State Bank. In 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union it was partly damaged and then restored. At first it was a two-storey building, in 1959-1960 a third storey was added to it. Its main facade facing the street is in “mo-dern” style. The facade is decorated with relief ornament and figure compositions. One can see two figures of naked athletes as if rising from the wall surface and over the arc there is a picture alto-relievo of a man

Money Museum

If you are fond of numismatics, the most curious thing you can find there is the Mo-ney Museum, housed in the bank. The mu-seum was established in 2001. The muse-um’s exposition bears in a chronological order a many-century history of money in-dustry and money circulation in Georgia since the 4th century B.C. as well as mo-ney from foreign countries: Kolkhuri tetri, Macedonian starter, antique coins, Ara-bian drachmas, Venetian ducats…Here you can buy copies of old Georgian money, mo-dern Georgian investment, jubilee and col-lection money.

Machabeli St.

A famous Russian poet Nikolay Gumilev lived in Machabeli street (the first left turn on Leonidze street), (1900-1903) in the house of an engineer Mirzoev (at the cor-ner of Leonidze and Machabeli streets). It is an angular building and it faces two pic-turesque green streets. In Tbilisi Gumilev saw his first poem published and here he wrote his poem for the album “of a beauti-ful dame”.

Georgian writers union

Our next stop is a wonderful building of the Georgian Writers’ Union in Machabeli street, which is the monument of the town architecture of the 20th century. The buil-ding was erected in 1905 (architect K. Tsa-ar) by David Sarajishvili (1848 – 1911), a fa-mous Georgian patron of arts, an enter-priser, the founder of cognac production not only in the Caucasus but in the entire Russian empire, a doctor of philosophy and chemistry. The architecture style of the building is clearly expressed “modern”. All his capital together with this building Sarajishvili bequeathed to the Georgian public, church, engineers, technicians and workers of his cognac factory. After the death of Sarajisvili his wife’s brother broke his will and in 1918 decided to sell this building at the auction in Sergiev street. This fact infuriated the Georgian public and it addressed to a Georgian busines-sman famous for his charity activities Aka-ki Khoshtaria, who purchased the buil-ding. In 1921 when Bolsheviks came to po-wer, Khoshtaria left Georgia and gave this building as a gift to Georgian writers. La-ter, when the independence of Georgia was proclaimed, the building was given to the Writers’ Union. In 1928 M. Gorki lived on the second floor of the building. In 1927 Vladimir Maiakovski read his poems to young Georgian writers there. On the 8th of October in 1927 a progressive French writer, publicist and statesman Henri Bar-busse was solemnly met there. On the 10th of June in 1938 a prominent Russian wri-ter Alexey Tolstoy gave a speech in this building.

Lermontov St.

Lermontov street is at Machabeli cross-roads in parallel with Leonidze street. At the beginning of the street there was a house of the general-major Fedor Akhve-rdov in the 19th century. In 1816 he came from Saint-Petersburg to the Caucasus ha-ving been appointed as a commander of Caucasian artillery corps. He settled with his family in Lermontov street in Tbilisi. The hostess of the house, Praskovia Arsenieva, who was Lermontov’s second aunt, cre-ated a saloon which played a great role in the cultural life of then Tbilisi as this hou-se became the center of the high society and literal life of the town. Kyuxelbeker, Pushkin, exiled Decembrists Iskritski, Iakubovich, Rinkevich and others visited it. In 1837 during his first exile a great Russian poet M. Lermontov lived in Akhver-dovs’ house. The prince Alexander Chav-chavadze’s family lodged its outhouse. Cha-vchavadze’s house was famous for its hospitality all over Tbilisi. The heart of the hospitable house were women – his wife Salome and two beautiful daughters – Nina and Ekaterina. According to their contemporaries, Chavchavadze’s house was a link between Russian and Geor-gian intelligentsia. Lermontov often visited Chavchavadze’s family and talked to a widow Nina Chavchavadze in 1829. According to the legend, she presented Ler-montov the daggers from her husband and father’s collection in remembrance when they parted. And Lermontov wrote his poem “Dagger” dedicated to this event. The families of Akhverdov and Chav-chavadze had kin’s and friendly connec-tions. Their children were brought up together. Alexander Griboedov met Nina Chavchavadze in the family of Akhverdov and they fell in love with each other. Here he proposed to her.

School #43

Going further along Machabeli street we find ourselves in Asatiani street. In the 19th century the princes Bebutovs’ palace was located there. From here originates the former name of the street – Bebutov, before that it was called Sadovaia. At Asatiani 50 there is a famous public school #43, the former Mantashev trading school. It was built in 1910-1911 (architect Gazaros Sarkisian), its building was sponsored by a famous oil businessman Ale-xander Mantashev. The school was ope-ned on the 1st of July in 1911. It is written on its copper plate: “This trading school was opened on the 1st of July in 1911 by Tiflis Merchants’ Partnership during the ruling of his Majesty duke Vorontsov-Da-shkov and with the money of the honored guardian of the school – Mantashev”. Un-fortunately, this plate was knocked toget-her from the school’s facade. The school was well equipped with studies, workshops, a sports hall. In 1913 Nicholas II of Russia visited the school. Until 1922 there was a bust to its founder and guardian in the ve-stibule and a service for the dead was an-nually arranged on the day of his death. At different times the pupils of the school were astrophysicist Victor Ambartsumian, a great American film-producer Rouben Mamoulian, a tennis-player Alexander Metreveli. A composer Michael Tariverdiev fi-nished this school too. His first recognized composition was his hymn to the school, which is still remembered and sung by its school-leavers for so many years.

Arts house

Not far from the school, if we turn to the left, we find ourselves in Kikodze street. Lermontov street crosses it on the halfway. Kikodze 8 – the former Mantashev’s house. According to the legend, Mantashev built this house for his daughter – on its balconies one can still see a woman’ silhouette. At Soviet times there was the Arts Workers House.

School # 50

Descending Kikodze street we can reach solid yellow building. Now there is school # 50, but at the beginning of the 20th cen-tury, in 1918-1921 the French Embassy functioned in this school, and the first co-nsul in Georgia was a wellknown French traveler, a businessman Jack-Fransua Ga-mba. He traveled round the Caucasus twi-ce and then published a detailed description of his travels in Paris. It was he who insisted on establishing the French Embassy in Tbilisi – he was patronized by Russian authorities. Gamba was in friendly relations with Alexander Chavchavadze (1786 – 1846) and stayed at the prince’s house in Tsinandali.

Ingorokva St.

When we get to the end of Kikodze street, we again find ourselves in Leonidze street. While crossing the street we get Ingo-rokva street (former street of Peter the Gre-at, at Soviet times – Dzerzhinski street). The first thing you can see in this street is the house of the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia, the former central committee of the Communist party of Georgia. Just opposite it there is the Linguistics Institute named after Arnold Chikobava (In-gorokva 8). Before the Soviet power there was a governor-general’s office in this building.

Tchaikovsky St.

From this office you can see Tchaikovsky street. At the house (Tchaikovsky 12) of M. Tchaikovsky stayed his brother, a great Russian composer Petr Tchaikovsky. The composer stayed annually (1886-1890) during a month at his brother’s house in Tbilisi, who was a prosecutor of the District Court and then – a vice-governor. Petr Ilich repeatedly recalled with delight about these periods of his life in his letters and dairies.

Chonkadze St.

Going up to the end of Tchaikovsky street, we set against Mtatsminda and turn to the right, Chonkadze street. Now we stand in front of a magnificent building (Chonkadze st. 12 is on the left side of the street). It is Bozarjanz house, a tobacco manufac-turer (the beginning of the 20th century, architect Ogajanov). This house is one of the most interesting of the examples of the style “modern”. Its foyer is decorated with tiles. The architecture of the house is in one style, which makes it especially interesting. The house is surrounded with the arc, laid with large light gray stone, with the overhung balcony with carved balustrade above. This threestorey mansion of Bozarjanz brothers received a special architectural award at the contest, organized by Tbilisi mayor authorities in 1915 for the best facade. People still call it “the ho-use of Madam Bozarjanz “. Why “Madam”? Because rich businessmen in order to pre-vent themselves from bankruptcy and other financial misfortunes rewrote their realty to the names of their wives and family folks – for a rainy day. When Bolsheviks came to power, this trick did not work. The mansion was requisitioned, though two rooms were left to Madam. New lodgers appeared in this house – among them was Lavrenti Beria. By the way, it is in this house, where scenes of many films were taken, among them “Data Tutashkhia”.

Caucasian house

Our last stop is in 20 G.Tabidze street (be-hind 5 Chonkadze street we turn to the left to 5 Lermontov street and then turn to the right and go up the street) – “Caucasian Ho-use” or as people call it “Pushkin Memorial of the Smirnovs’ House”. When entering the house one unwillingly forgets that in mi-nutes’ walk distance there is the center of the city because all of a sudden one becomes a witness and a participant of a wonderful serenity, the calmness of the 19th century. It was built in 1860 by order of the head of the Tamamshev family (a rich Ar-menian merchant) and according to the de-sign of a Swedish architect Otto Simenson in a traditional European style with colored wooden balconies. Elizaveta, Tamamshev’s daughter, married Michael Smirnov and got this house as her dowry. Alexandra Osipovna SmirnovRosset was Michael’s mother. She was a friend of Pushkin and Krilov, Mitskevich, Leist and Zhukovski, a maid of honor of the two empresses, a hostess of the literary saloon, one of the most beautiful women of that time. At the end of the 70s of the 19th century Michael brought the furniture from his mother’s Petersburg saloon into this house and soon it became one of the centers of cultural communication where remarkable people of Georgia and Russia, writers, scientists, actors, musicians, met and conversed. In this way many unique exhibits appeared in Tbilisi: decorative tables, made by Peter the Great himself, Pushkin’s gentleman of the monarch’ hat, tobaccocase of Katherine II and many other things. Ilia Chavchavadze, Niko Nikoladze, P. Melikishvili, A.Rubinstein (who often came to play on tour in Tiflis and spent a lot of evenings with pleasure in this house), P. Tchaikovsky visited this house in order to touch the family relics. It is in this house where the first academic edition of Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817-1845) works was prepared and published (Elisabeth’s sister married the nephew of the great poet). Three generations of Smirnov’s family managed to carefully keep and bring through the 20th century cataclysms this unique collection to us. The family collection of the Smirnovs was gifted to Georgia in 1985.
Here we end our walk round Sololaki. We might as well wander along its peculiar stre-ets and side-streets for a long time. A sign of Time is somewhat subtle, intangible, shadowy. But it is immortal and flesh, stone, brick are transient. Loyalty to the past is first of all the ability to coexist with the “world of shadows” and to keep faithfulness to a definite style in new circumstances. For the city as a vital system this sign of the past is the feeling of “a small secret” – the-se sensations are left after the sightseeing of Sololaki.