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Tourist Routes

Route 1: Pearls of the old town
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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

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

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

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").

 Kari temple of saint George

Kari temple of saint George stands near Erekle Square, behind the dwelling house of the last century and with its eastern facade it looks towards Shavteli street. Vakhtang Gorgasali built the first church of the saint Archangel  on this site, which then was destroyed during Mongols' invasion at the end of the 14th century. In accordance with the will of king Rostom in the 17th century three temples were erected on its ruins: of Saint John the Baptist, Annunciation and Saint George. Only the latter has been kept for us, the construction of which was completed by prince Svimon in 1710. The plastered and whitened wall ends in pediment. On the two-pitch slope of roof there is a cupola in the center on the low drum. The bell tower rests on the completion of the western facade. The facades and bell tower bear the obvious marks of the alterations dating to the 19th century.

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).

Karvasla 

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.