This day in Tbilisi was unexpected and unusual. It started outside the city, with a horse farm on the Tbilisi Reservoir. It is impossible to understand and feel Georgia and Tbilisi without seeing a Georgian on a horse. From there, the path ran to the Bridge Peace, the cable car, the fortress of Narikala and the old town, the marvelous sulfur waterfall and the fig gorge and of course to the royal baths. After the rest, we walked the streets of the ancient city of the Meydan district, the streets of Sioni and the Church of Sion and ended the day with a beautiful boat ride through the Kura River. It was an incredible adventure!
Khokhobi is a beautiful hotel in the heart of the historic city. It stands over the river. Warm waters flow in this river giving the origin of the name of the town - Tbilisi which derives from word Tbili - the warm.
This bath is named motley according to its multicolor facade. It is one of the most famous and beautiful bathrooms in Tbilisi. We'll talk about it later. The only sign near the entrance, which mentions Pushkin's admiration for this bath, cannot go unnoticed.
The bridge above the Tsavciskali river is decorated with a sculpture of a falcon. According to legend, King Georg Gorgosali, who moved the capital from Mtskheta to Tbilisi, hunted in these places. His falcon caught a pheasant. At the site where it happened miraculously, Gorgasali discovered the warm waters of the river and called the whole area - Tbili which means warm - Tbilisi. A park covers the lower part of the river. A monument to Heydar Aliyev is an only sculpture in this park.
We went out of town to private stables near the Tbilisi reservoir. The history of horse riding and the culture of horse breeding in Georgia is rooted in the distant past. One of the most ancient customs was horse racing "Dogy" in memory of the deceased. This tradition preserved till today In Alpine districts country.
From the stables we returned to the city and began a walk around the town from the monument to Iyetim Gurgi - Efim the Georgian - known in the 18th century in Tiflis (Russian pronunciation of Tbilisi) poet songwriter. He wrote songs about the life of bohemian Jews, and the place for the monument to him was chosen here because from this place the Jewish quarter of the old city rises.
Tbilisi stretches along the Kura River. Until 1801, the city walls determined the boundaries of Tbilisi. By this time, there were almost no Georgians left in the city. After Persian Shah destroyed Tbilisi in 1795, only Armenians from Avlabar lived here. Avlabar was an Armenian settlement raised in the 13th century on the opposite bank of the river over the impregnable Metech rocks. It was only in the middle of the 20th century that the demographic picture began to change. Beria - minister of interior at the time of Stalin initiated the relocation of ethnic Georgians from the peripheries to Tbilisi. So the population overgrew and reached a million. According to the rules of socialist urban development, the construction of the underground was begun. Today the population of Tbilisi counts million seventy thousands man.
Mikheil Saakashvili was an initiator of the great innovative project that changed the city face. He developed the close vicinity to the Bridge of Peace, the park on the left bank of Kura River. Undoubtedly all the modern beauty and the capital outlook of the city belonged to him. This bridge adorns Tbilisi. Saakashvili also builds the building with a blue dome on the top of the cliff. It was designed as the presidential palace — something like the White House. The equestrian statue in front of the Metech monastery near Avlabar is Vakhtang Gorgosali. The legend of the creation of Tbilisi is associated with his name. He moved the capital here from McKhet. The Soviet authorities presented Tbilisi with a sculpture of a woman on the 1500th anniversary of the city. She holds a quevi and a sword in her hand. It was named Mother Georgia, like other megalomaniac sculptures of the motherland in Kyiv or Stalingrad. Mother Georgia stands on a high cliff on the right bank of Kura River. Quevi in her hand symbolizes friendship, and sword symbolizes defensive. She towers over the old town near the fortress of Narikala.
There is a statue dedicated to Ronald Reagan in Rick Park. He sits, turning towards the presidential palace. By the way, the current president of Georgia does not use this building, considering it a symbol of corruption and pride of Saakashvili's rule. Nevertheless, Saakashvili's government founded the strategic alliance and partnership with the United States. It happened since Michael believed that it was Reagan who, having won the Cold War, liberated Georgia from the USSR.
This cable car is relatively young. It was built in 2012 and is 600 meters long. It is modern and safe, wagons slow down the course at the stations but do not stop, ensuring continuous movement.
The Assumption Church of Metehi is perfectly visible. It is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. There, Vakhtang Gorgasali built his palace. In the 60s of the 20th century, it was erected an equestrian statue. In the days of the Russian Empire, Metehi was converted to a prison. In Soviet times it was demolished, and a new bridge over Kura was built. This stone bridge is the most ancient crossing connector between Avlabar and Tiflis.
Right under us is the oldest Armenian church in Tbilisi, Surb Gevorg. It was built in the 13th century and has experienced a lot of destruction and reconstruction. Its modern look has survived to the present day since the 17th century. Famous Armenians of the city are buried there. Among them is Gabriel Aivazovsky - the brother of the renowned artist.
The top station of the cable car overlooks the fortress of Narikala, the lower city and the once-prosperous Sololaki quarter. The path to the monument of the motherland of Georgia rises From here. Another path descends to the botanical garden and the fortress of Narikala.
This fortress is the earliest building on the site of Tbilisi. It is difficult to say when it began its history, but probably appeared as a fortress along the silk path and called Shuris Tzihe. Vakhtang Gorgasali rebuilt this fortress. Arabs fortified as part of the Tbilisi Caliphate. Mongols rebuilt a fort and called it Naryn Kala - a small fortress. That's the way how the name Narikala entered Into the history of Tbilisi.
Along the northern slope, a trail descends into the lower city and offers beautiful views of Tbilisi. The fortress stands at the eastern end of the Sololaki Range. On the opposite side of the ridge is a botanical garden, hidden in the gorge. This garden has a three-hundred-year-old history.
The fortress was destroyed dramatically in the early 19th century. It happened whether in an earthquake or as a result of an explosion in a powder warehouse. However, it has not recovered since then, adjustment attempts have been made.
History of Tbilisi experienced a constant change of rulers and a continuous struggle of local princes for independence. Sandwiched between the Turks and Persia, which became the prey of Arabs, Mongols, and Tatars, Georgia and Tbilisi tacked between large forces to preserve their identity, culture, and religion. In the 18th century, the Russian Empire joined this cycle. For example, in 1723, under an agreement with Peter the First King Vakhtang the sixth severed relations with Iran. The Persians immediately captured Tbilisi and put the puppet Kakhetian king on the throne. Russia has been left out. Two years later, the Turks came to the rescue. They dislodged the Kakhetians and built a mosque of Juma in support of the Muslims of the city.
The name of the mosque has a deep meaning. Juma means Friday mosque. Friday mosque is when compulsory prayer occurs, and it happens with a minimum number of prayers equally to forty adult men. Ten years after the completion of construction in 1735, it was destroyed by the Persians at the next capture of the city.
The streets of the old city descend to the gorge and the waters of the small river, where according to legend Gorgasali found his falcon with pheasant and founded a warm town. Here is our hotel Khokhoby, which means pheasant.
Fences of this bridge over the fig gorge have recently become covered with locks. It's such a symbol of love. This tradition exists in many cities around the world. I do not know how the lock is connected with love, but people here love to be photographed and generally a pleasant place.
Through this gorge flows a sulfur river, which originates at the waterfall. Frogs sing here at night. It is sung, not croaking. Hence the expression "frog sings in the water" was born, which is an indication of Georgian pronunciation. Try to say: Bar'ar'I tsqkalsh'I k'g'ineps.
In the 19th century, the Ganja Gate led to the city over this gorge and waterfall. The city gate received this name from the town of Ganja, the second most important city after Baku in Azerbaijan. Leather workshops located at this gate, in the waters of the waterfall, they tanned the leather. The entire stretch of the flow from the bathhouse to the Kura River was called Dabahanka. This name derived from the word that means to tan the hides.
On the opposite bank of Dabahanka, there is a building with blue tiles. This bath is the most famous. It is called a motley bath because of its appearance or Orbeli bath after the name of its owner. This great bathhouse has been known since the 16th century. Pushkin and Alexander Dumas visited there. They say that even the vast destruction of the city of Aga Mohammed Khan in the tragic 1785 did not affect this bath.
The baths were open around the clock; today, they are open until the last visitor. There was a cultural and “club” life In the bathrooms, feasts, and even meetings of the parents of the bride and groom took place. There were women's and men's days. Sulfur water from sources has a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius at the outlet and carries sulfuric acid, lime, potassium, magnesium, and methane. This composition has a positive effect on the skin, musculoskeletal system and various neuroses, sciatica, and arthritis.
The whole history of Tbilisi seems to be intertwined in this square. A bridge of Metehi passes through Kura River towards the Metehi cliffs, where is an equestrian statue of Vakhtang Gorgasali of the founder of Tbilisi. The Jewish quarter rises the right bank of the river. The old town lasts along the river with his churches and narrow passages. The monument to the poet Sayat Nova stands on the square itself. He wrote love lyrics, "enchanted" poems in Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani and embodied the historical unique mixing and coexistence of these peoples.
These were the craft quarters of old Tbilisi. Also quite famous another name: The dark rows. This passage was dark because of sheds that tightly closed the street. The french name Shardeni was given to the road in honor of the French naturalist Jack Shardeni. The street is pedestrian and flourished with many small cozy places to eat and grab some drink.
In 2006, a murder took place in one of the bars on Shardeni street. An ordinary bank employee was killed. High-ranking officials of the Interior Ministry were charged with his violent death. Witnesses claimed that there was an argument between them in the restaurant. Mikheil Saakashvili sided with the officials and caused a wave of widespread anger. Later, the court in absentia found the president involved in the events and sentenced him to three years in prison.
It's a monument to the tamada (the speech speaker). Remember the Kutaisi Fountain? That's where he first met us. It is an enlarged copy of a historical figurine found in western Georgia and dated 7th century BC.
Once horses pulled such trams on the rails. That's why they were called horsecars. Later the trams were put on electric traction, and a city tram appeared to the word. It is Sioni street that leads us to the eponymous temple.
The name of Sioni is associated with Jerusalem or, rather, with the mountain of Sion. This temple houses the famous cross of Saint Nino - the one that brought Christianity to Georgia. Since the Georgian cross was made of vines, its horizontal crossbar was lowered down. In this temple is buried priest Ambrose Hilaria. He was brutally tortured by the Bolsheviks. It is said that before his death, he said to his executioners: My soul belongs to God, the heart to Georgia, and with the body, you can do what you want, murderers.
The first temple on this place was built by Gorgosali the great. The Arabs destroyed the first temple. Then the temple was repeatedly destroyed and restored until it gets a modern look at the end of the 18th century. The Tbilisi Theological Academy is also located here. The bell tower opposite was built in the traditional Russian style after the establishment of the Russian regime in Georgia in 1812.
At this corner, Sioni Street passes into the street of King Heraclius II. At the corner, a carpet shop, and the sunlight spilled on the pavement through the shadows of trees, the twinkling of carved balconies and the carefree rhythm of a busy street, creates the very Tbilisi that artists so often like to depict in their paintings, and photographers and tourists to remember by their cameras.
Look at this another all-pedestrian street. The number of restaurants and coffees is staggering. Their design and cordiality are pleasing, and by the evening, these pieces of design and culinary leaves naive strangers without free space. In ancient times, this street was called an armor pass partially named after crafts, which were here.
From here, a pleasure boat departs on the river. Nukza our captain, skipper meet us on board. Somehow most of our group of eight people went to the bow part of the boat. To which Nukza said: come here, back, or we will drown. I need some ballast. We are not a submarine.
Nukza poured wine, and our boat moved dimensionally through the waters of Kura. The bridge under which we sail is named after Nikolai Baratashvili. Nikolaz Baratashvili was a lyricists poet. He lived in the early 19th century. Unfortunately, he did not see the publication of any of his poems during his lifetime. He died in 1845 at the age of 28. Only seven years after his death, Tbilisi people got acquainted with his poetry and fell in love with it for forever. Today, modern bronze sculptures are on display on the bridge, and in the underground passages, the walls are decorated with graffiti. Both sculptures and graffiti are made by contemporary artists impressed by Baratashvili's poetry and destiny.
The building on the right bank of the Kura, reminiscent of the largest colony of giant mushrooms, is the famous building of the Tbilisi administration. All bureaucratic issues are solved in one place in one day. Tbilisi is very proud of this official decision, and they once again recall Mikhail Saakashvili.
The Metehi Bridge for centuries was the only bridge over the Kura that connected Avlabar and Metehi with Tbilisi. The first bridge on this site was built in the time of Vakhtang Gorgasali.
The strong cliffs on the left bank of the river create a high cliff called Metehi. There is a version pf origin of the name, that mentions the word in Greek: Metokh, which means the place of the church. We are talking about one of the ancient temples of Tbilisi - the Assumption Church on top of this cliff. It is said that he was settled in the time of Vakhtang Gorgasali and he built his first palace in Tbilisi on top of this cliff.
Here ends our long day, and we return to the pier from where we will go to the hotel. Just above the surface of the water is the ancient church of St. Abo of Tbilisi. He is considered the patron saint of the city. Abo was an Arab by birth who went with the Cartel king Nersa to Georgia from Baghdad, where Nersa was imprisoned but acquitted and released by the caliph to his homeland. Abo imbued with the Christian faith, traditions and customs of Georgia and preached to Christian Muslims in Arab Tbilisi. The events took place at the end of the 8th century during the reign of the Arabs in Georgia. Abo was beheaded, they burned his body and ashes were thrown into Kura from the high cliff of Metehi. Symbolically, this place at the foot of Metehi became the church of Abo worship, and above the cliff stands Gorgasali - the king of Georgia and the founder of Tbilisi.