We had a chance to spend two full weeks in Tbilisi, for that we are very thankful to our good Georgian friend, and we fell in love with the city. Tbilisi is lively, gorgeous, old and new, full of opportunities, hidden gems and culture. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend there but want to get as much from the city as possible – visit these 5 great places, which allow you to feel the spirit of Tbilisi.
1. Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi
Maybe it is not fair to compare this Cathedral to other churches in Georgia as it was built recently but it is definitely my favorite. It is considered to be one of the largest religious buildings in the world and the third tallest among Orthodox churches.
Take notice of a shape of the structure – as almost all the Caucasian churches’, the Cathedral’s shape reminds of a Cross. The worship of the Cross became generally accepted in early ages, since the holy image clearly proclaims the Christian faith and symbolizes Redemption.
As soon as you walk through the gates, you can see why this place is a must-visit. Both the exterior and the surroundings of the church are really impressive.
Strolling around the park you can feel how calm and charming the atmosphere is. Feel free to wander inside the Cathedral – it is huge, majestic and almost all the premises are open for visitors. It is also a perfect place to hide from the summer heat for a while.
2. Mtatsminda Amusement Park
Lovely amusement park located on top of the mountain with beautiful views of the city. I recommend visiting it when it’s getting dark, as you can observe how Tbilisi lights up and enjoy the evening lights. Walk around the beautiful garden, enjoy the fresh air and for a memorable experience – take a ride in a giant panoramic wheel, if you dare. I took it with friends who are afraid of height and had hard time moving around and taking pictures as they were shouting at me not to wiggle the cabin. :)) And we were really lucky because there was a wedding celebration going on near the park, so we had a chance to witness an amazing firework show. Georgians love fireworks, therefore there is a big chance you will be able to enjoy it too.
3. Modern Stonehenge – The Chronicle of Georgia
Less known sight, situated outside the city center and overlooking the Tbilisi sea and the suburbs. The size and magnitude of this structure is quite astonishing – I felt so small looking up the massive pillars, which tell the story of Jesus Christ in the lower parts and feature famous persons and events related to Georgian history in the top. In my opinion, upholding the national narrative through the art of sculpture is always an idea worth appreciation.
There are also statues of Georgian kings alongside the monument and a small church, which must be really old as Georgian churches have a shape of Cross since around 4-5th century.
Locals usually hang out here in the evenings as the weather is fresh and chillier than in the city. If you visit this monument in daytime, you often find yourself alone in this majestic place.
4. Old Town and the Narikala Fortress
Goes without saying, you should visit the old town, as in every other city you travel to. Old town is usually the most interesting and stunning part of the city and Tbilisi is not an exception. Exploring the narrow streets, surrounded by crooked, shackled, colorful buildings, one can truly appreciate the convergence of Eastern and Western architecture styles. When I asked a local how he would describe Tbilisi in a few words, he told me that it is “the crossroad of cultures” and that is very, very accurate.
In the cosy old town you will find many authentic shops and restaurants, which are so charming you won’t be able to sustain yourself from visiting. And wandering around you might discover a few nice little parks to relax and enjoy the distinct Georgian culture.
When you decide you’ve seen enough of the old town, take a cable car, which will bring you up to the Narikala Fortress on the left or Mother of Georgia on the right. The ride itself is very rewarding as you can see 360º views of the city. You can choose to climb up, of course, but it wasn’t an option for me as the weather was scorching hot. The fortress was built in the 4th century and now it is a great place to explore, which rewards you with a clear view of most of the main sights.
I loved climbing the rocks on top. And look up to the Mother of Georgia – you see what she’s holding? A sword to meet the enemies and a bowl of wine to greet friends, which symbolizes the Georgian national character.
5. Lagidze Café -shop
Walking down the Rustaveli avenue it is a must to stop by the Lagidze café-shop and have a taste of history. It was established in 1887 by Mitrophan Lagidze and serves the famous Lagidze water – a popular Georgian soft drink based on soda and a variety of syrups, made using a secret recipe. The syrups are made of natural components only – fresh fruits and herbs from different regions of Georgia. You can try all the authentic flavours – cream, chocolate, tarragon, grape and lemon. This drink is usually served with Khachapuri – choose the Ajarian one, it is the best of the sort in the whole city! A huge one too, I could only manage to eat half of it.
Dear Reader, I hope you have the best and tastiest experience in Tbilisi!