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Tourist Routes

Route 4: European City

Freedom sq.

Our fourth tourist route begins from Freedom Square. Freedom Square first was called Yerevan Square. In 1821 Russian troops under the commandment of Gene-ral I. Paskevich undertook city-fortress Yere-van. Paskevich among other rewards was granted the title of the graph of Yerevan. The name of Paskevich of Yerevan was given to Tbilisi square. In the 50's of the 19th century over the present Freedom square intensive building began. In the middle of the square the enormous building of Caravanserai with theatre in the Moorish style was built. The theatre was painted by Russian painter Gagarin. According to Alexandre Dumas the theatre was very beautiful, but later it was destroyed. Later in the soviet period the square was renamed after Beria and then after Lenin.

Saint George’s Monument

In the centre of the Freedom square there was a monument to Lenin, now there is a fountain there with 40 m. Saint George`s monument. This monument is a gift of a famous Georgian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli to his native city.

Tbilisi sakrebulo

The entire southern line of the square is occupied by the main facade of Tbilisi Sakrebulo (city assembly), a former town council, built in 1880s according to the project by P. Shtern. Between 1910 and 1914 the third floor with a clock tower was built. The decoration of the town hall in a pseu-do-Moorish style reflects the striving of some architects of those times to give some exotic image to the constructions of Tbilisi.

Museum of Fine Arts

Very close to the square there is a monu-ment to Pushkin. In front of the monument there is a building of former seminary, where Stalin studied. One can see its main facade with twotier portico. The lower part of the portico is a rusted arcade and the upper one consists of six ionian columns, decorated with fronton. This building, erected by architect Bernadocci in 1835 in late classical style, first housed one of the best hotels in Tbilisi belonging to the mer-chant and factory owner Jacob Zubalashvili. Then it was purchased by some ecclesiastical department and was used as Ecclesial Seminary until 1905. Since 1920 the Museum of Fine Arts has been functioning in this building.

Rustaveli Avenue

From Freedom Square begins Rustaveli Avenue - the main artery of Tbilisi. This is the most popular place for walking. When a telephone was a rarity everybody knew, that to see anybody you wanted was possible while walking there. The Avenue was built in the 19-th century, when M. S. Vorontsov was a ruler of Georgia. The avenue was divided into two parts - Palace street and the Golovini Avenue. In 1918 it got the name of Shota Rustaveli, the aut-hor of the immortal poem "The knight in the panther's skin".

State museum of Georgia

To the right of the square there is the State Museum of Georgia after Simon Janashia, founded in 1923 on the basis of the Caucasian Museum, which had existed since 1825. It is the largest storehouse for the monuments of Georgian culture. Of special interest are the materials from Trialeti burial mounds, referred to the second century before Christ, gold and silver vessels, ceramic items decorated with design. World arts masterpieces include Trialeti gold cup decorated with precious stones and hermetic design. Jewelry articles of the 5-6 centuries B.C. are distinguished by their exclusive perfection of technique and subtle artistic taste: gold diadems, bracelets, ear-rings, pendants, silver decorations for horse harness, jugs, cups, goblets. It contains vast collections of weaponry and coins not only from Georgia, but from Middle East countries. Ethnographic Department keeps handicrafts' articles - cloths, carpets, wonderful wood fretwork.

Cinema ”Rustaveli”

From the State Museum, on the right part of the Avenue, we go past the main cinema of the city bearing the name of "Rustaveli" (built in 1939 by the architect N. Severov). There used to be a building of a guardroom with classical colonnade, abruptly projected out of the construction line. Earlier, on this territory stood a small church of Saint George ("Kaloubani" which means "threshingfloor quarter"), which, according to the legend, was built in memory of those children who perished on threshingfloors under the shoes of the horses of Tamerlan hordes. The author of the cinema used the motives of classical architecture in a peculiar way. At the level of the second tier there are sculptures performed by V. Topuridze (four sculptures along the main facade) and Sh. Mikatadze (one sculpture along the side facade).

Palace of Youth

The house of the chief ruler in the Cauca-sus was erected on the Avenue just oppo-site the cinema in 1802. The building was rebuilt many times. For the last time (1865-1868) the building was enlarged by the architect O. Simenson. Nowadays building is the same. From 1844 to 1917 in the bui-lding was the residence of a Russian tsar-ruler in the Caucasus. In the Soviet period - it was the palace of pioneers and school children, now it is the palace of youth. Around the palace there is a well-kept ga-rden, the back part of which faces Ingoro-kva street. A. Ermolov paid special attenti-on to this garden and now two large plane trees, planted by the former Caucasian co-mmander-in-chief, grow in this garden. In the past the garden belonged to the prin-ces Orbeliani.

Parliament of Georgia

In the very center of the avenue there was Alexander Neveli Cathedral. In the 30th according to the order of L. P. Beria (1899 - 1953) Cathedral was destroyed and instead of the House of Government was bu-ilt there. 16 columns symbolizing 16 soviet republics were erected. German prisoners were involved in the building of this cons-truction. Today the area in front of the Parliament of Georgia is a place where the memorial to victims of the events of April 9, 1989 is going to be builts. The pros-pect repeatedly became the witness and the direct participant of all major events happened in Georgian history of: revolu-tions, meetings, demonstrations, parades, wars, etc.

Kashueti church

Kashueti is in Rustaveli Avenue. The modern building of the church was built in 1910 by the architect Bielfeld. It's the example of Georgian medieval architecture of the eleventh century. Before that there was the church of Saint George built in 1742 and also called Kashueti however the name of this church was taken from the sixth century.
Though the name was transferred to the church which was built there. Etymology of the name is explained in two words: 1."Kva" - stone and 2."Shva" - was born. The legend says that when David Garejeli (VI c. ) was still alive one of the nuns of the monastery was pregnant. That woman was thought by one of the fireadmirers to confirm that the baby's father was David Garejeli. David was harmed and could not bear this rumor and wished the woman to give a birth to a stone and the nun instead of a baby gave a birth to the stone which was put in the base of the church. In honour of this miracle the church was named Kashueti. Grigol Orbeliani (1804 - 1883) the famous Georgian writer was buried there. This church is famous for it's beautiful paintings made by a famous Georgian painter Lado Gudiashvili (1896 - 1980).

 National picture gallery

Slantwise from the church, at the edge of the town garden there is the National Picture Gallery (Blue Gallery), built in 1885. The building was erected by the German architect Zalzman as "Temple of Glory" to commemorate the victory of the Russian troops over the Persians. The trophy cannons recaptured from the Persian army, stood in front of the building in the last century.

Alexander’s garden

  The back facade of the Picture Gallery faces Alexander’s Garden. Once, instead of the Garden, there used to be a hippodrome on this very spot and it was called "kabakhi" which means "mast" in Persian. The fisticuffs, arranged there, attracted native strong men to single combat. Later on, a royal stadium was arranged on this locality. In the 40s of the last century a military drill ground (Alexander drill square) was established there. In 1859 the first public garden in Tbilisi named after tsar Alexander the First was set up on this spot designed by the architect Otto Simenson (who was a Swedish ascender, settled in Russia). It was opened in 1865 and has preserved the name "Alexander’s Garden". At the entrance to the garden one can see a monument to the writer Egnate Ninosh-vili (sculptor I. Nikoladze).

Monument to Lado Gudiashvili

On this very spot, on the other side of Kashueti there is another monument to an artist Lado Gudias-hvili (sculptor G. Mika-tadze). The artist is depicted in his young age, when he had just returned from Paris. He is looking at the house full of thoughts of the place in which he spent his life.

School #1

Just opposite the church stands the first school - the former Gymnasium of the nobility. The gymnasium was designed by the architect Simon Kldiashvili in 1900-1906. The building is performed in the best classical traditions which add some solemnity to it. The school was destroyed in 1992, but today it is restored. In front of it we can see a sculpture composition - Ilia Chavchavad-ze and Akaki Tsereteli.

Tbilisi Marriott 

Then we find ourselves in front of one of the massive constructions of the 20th century - hotel "Tbilisi Marriott"(architect G.Ter-Mikelov, 1915) - the former hotel "Majestic", then hotel “Tbilisi”. At this point the Avenue bents to the left and the building elegantly emphasizes this bent. During the Civil war (1991-1992) the hotel was burnt. At present it is restored.

Rustaveli theatre

Next to the hotel there is the Rustaveli theatre - one of the most beautiful buildings in the Avenue (architects K.Tatishev and A.Shimkevich, 1901). In the past it housed "Actors' Society". Its architecture involves the forms and motives of the late baroque with mirror windows and a large portal. The house consisted of the first-class theatre, large concert-hall and a number of big and small rooms for the club of "Actors' Soci-ety". The lower floor of the theatre keeps the wallpainting of the cafe-bar "Khimerioni", performed in 1919 by Sergey Sudeikin, Sigizmund Valishevski (he was called Ziga in Tbilisi), David Kakabadze and Lado Gudiashvili. Nearby there is the Thea-trical Institute.

Opera and ballet theatre

Not far from the Rustaveli theatre you can see the Opera and Ballet Theatre after Z. Paliashvili (architect V. Shreter, 1896), constructed in an elegant Moorish-Eastern style(former Public Theatre). Its towers, arcs, stainedglass windows and ornament are made with special care, laboriously and meticulously. At different times its audience listened to the songs of Fedor Shaliapin, Sergey Lemeshev, Vano Sarajishvili, Zurab Sotkilava, Paata Burchuladze, Montserrat Caballe and witnessed the dances of Vakhtang Chabukiani. Theatrical folks are especially proud of Fedor Shaliapin's words, who received his first lessons of vocal music there: "I was born twice: for life - in Kazan, for music - in Tbilisi".

Monument to Akaki Tsereteli

On both sides of the Opera House one can see squ-ares. In its right square there is a classical bust of the Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli (sculptor I. Ni-koladze, 1955), recognized as one of the best creations of the sculptor.

Monument to George Balanchini

Not long ago a monument to the great choreographer George Balanchini (George Balanchivadze) was established in the square. The sculpture was performed by Vaja Mikaberidze. The left square of the building is especially attractive, it was successfully reconstructed in 1965 (architect A. Mikaberidze).

Monument to Zakaria Paliashvili

The decorative square on both sides of the Opera House skillfully combines ancient stellas and sculptures. In the depth of the square there is a monument to the great Georgian composer, director, teacher Zakaria Paliashvili (sculptor M. Berdzenishvili, bronze, 1971).

former Military gymnasium and Constitutional court

Then we go past another house - the former Military Gymnasium (1875). It was built mainly due to the fact that when native citizens went outside the Caucasus to get education, it had a harmful effect on their health. Since 1882 - Cadets' Corpse, since 1909 - Tiflis Cadet Corpse of the Great Prince Michael Nikolaevich.
Then you can see a monumental building - the former Georgian branch of Marxism-Leninism Institute (architect A. Shukin, 1938). Its frieze is decorated with basreliefs made by Jakob Nikoladze. Since 1993 the Constitutional Court has had its sittings here. Nowadays reconstruction is going on and it is planned to build a hotel by the company Kempinski Hotels in it.
Nearby you can see a monument to the distinguished Georgian philosopher of the 20th century Merab Mamardashvili, which was created and gifted to the city by the sculptor Ernst Neizvestni.

Tbilisi state conservatoire

Griboedov street is in parallel to Rustaveli Avenue (closer to the mountain). Here is Tbilisi State Conservatoire after V. Sarajishvili, which was founded in 1917. Tbilisi conservatoire has deserved a dignified reputation of an educational establishment which is famous for its wonderful performers of classical music. Among them are pianists Alexander Toradze and Eliso Virsaladze, a violinist Liana Isakadze, a bass singer Paata Burchuladze, a singer Nani Bregvadze. Georgia has the National Symphonic Orchestra. In the corner of the second floor stands the statue of Beethoven. The largest organ in Tbilisi is in the major hall of the conservatoire.

Tbilisi state academy of arts


Tbilisi state academy of arts is also in this street (in a former palace of Arshakunian). The palace was built in the 50s of the 19th century (architect Grigor Ivanov). In 1869-1886 the palace housed the artistic circle. The Artistic academy was establis-hed in this palace in 1922. The facade of this three-story building is in European style and its interior has the features of Iranian decor. In 1902 the left part of the build-ing was reconstructed in accordance with the design of Svimon Kldiashvili.

Monument to Shota Rustaveli

Rustaveli avenue is completed with the monument to the poet Shota Rustaveli by a sculptor K. Merabishvili.

Melik-azariants house

This part of the avenue still is called for-mally Zemeli. Zemeli in German means a roll (Semmel). At the same time there was a huge drugstore, which belonged to a German chemist Zemmel. Unfortunately this drugstore does not exist anymore. "Melik-Azariants House" is located instead. This gigantic, spread into the whole quarter building was owned by a merchant Alexander Melik-Azariants belonging to the top guild. And it still bears the name of its first owner. Even at the beginning of the 20th century there were power and water sup-ply systems, heating system, telephone network, a nursery, a cinema theatre, a photo saloon, Arts Gallery, and a garden with a fountain and exotic plants. Many-entrance construction with its wide windows, bay windows and tower takes up an entire quarter and nowadays it remains the evi-dence of the construction boom at the beginning of the 20th century. The stone mourning wreaths on its towers remind of a 25 yearold merchant's daughter, who died soon after the completion of the construction works. People say, that the merchants of the whole city came and dropped their jewelry there - for good luck. But the house did not bring happiness to Melik-Azariants - he died in poverty at Soviet times and was buried with his friends' money.

Academy of sciences

Just opposite MelikAzariants house stands a pompous building with beautiful low colonnade in Italian style, a solemn angular tower, revetted with Bolnisi tuff - it is a building of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia (architects K. Chkheidze and M. Chkhik-vadze, 1953). There is a through arcade bet-ween the columns. Via it you can go to the lower station, which has an oval design, of the cableway leading to the upper plateau of Mtatsminda (at present the cableway is not functioning). On the steps of the academy artists and craftsmen sell their works.


The symbol of Rustaveli avenue is Mtat-sminda which means the holly mountain. It got its name at the end of the16 century, but the other its name “Mamadaviti” (the mount of David) given earlier in the 6th century. A grate Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili used to write "when I am bored its enough to have a look at mount Mtatsminda and I am fine".
On halfway to the peak of the mountain Mtatsminda, on one of its slopes, is located the church of Saint David, who came to Georgia in the 6th century. He built a cave and a small church, rightly say a chapel on the "holy mountain", and settled there. In the 16 century two monks from Athens David and Nikoloz Gabashvili built a church on a small rock of a holly mount in honor of Iberians Virgin. That church existed more than two hundred years. In 1809 it was restored after the order Georgian patriarch Antony II. When the city used to be invaded, citizens were kept in that monastery. When people had problems they always went there and felt better. Furthermore Georgian kings found there comfort there while having minutes of grief. King Erekle II, after having lost his son Solomon, overpowered to the holy mountain with his servants. The church spring escaping from the cleft of the cliff is associated with one ancient belief, that young girls were gathered on Thursdays, in order to pray to Saint David as to the patron saint of family happiness and to conjecture secret desire. Then went around the church three times, moistened a pebble in the spring water and applied it to the church wall. If the pebble was retained, it meant that the desire of a lucky girl could be ca-rried out.