Tbilisi is an old, romantic city with cobblestone, ornate, narrow streets. The city of contrasts, where next to the new glass buildings, there is a house without one wall, but with one huge crack that divides the balcony into two parts: on one you meet the sunrise and on the other you see off the sunset.
Probably the most interesting and important thing is just these small streets going up and down. The standard “square-town” way of thinking does not work there. You were walking straight ahead and suddenly you see a narrow passageway that winds around a house, turns into a staircase that suddenly descends down in a semicircle, and halfway down you can change your direction and walk up, almost on the roofs of old houses.
The most colorful and suitable for leisurely walks you can find between Shota Rustaveli Street and Kakabadze Street.
We recommend walking there to feel the atmosphere not of touristy Tbilisi, but of a small, old, cozy neighborhood, like from fairy tales.
The official “Old Town,” on the other hand, has already been completely renovated and looks a bit like Switzerland. There are lots of cafes, restaurants, khinkaloos, souvenir stores and even a woman with cats lives there. She lives right there on the street.
From the old city begins the ascent to Narikala. It is a fortress complex and church that towers over Tbilisi. There is a cable car up to it, but since we like to walk, we will go up on foot and then go down by cable car directly to the modern Rike Park on the other side of the river.
Of course, if you are already walking through the park, it will be easier to go up to the fortress by cable car.
Do you know why Tbilisi is called Tbilisi? Tbilisi means “warm” in Georgian. And all because it is located on the sulfuric springs. And you have the opportunity to get warm in a hot bath, in one of the sulfur baths.
The prices are different, so are the conditions. We were lucky enough to bathe for free. Maybe if you are open and friendly, you too will be invited to wash and eat, as good friends, without asking if there are GELs to pay.
It’s really worth a visit. Rows of grandparents who sell beads, earrings, old photos, records, dishes… But all in a unique Tbilisi atmosphere! All of this is diluted with dozens of musical instruments, beautiful cards, unexpected cards, toys and kind conversations.
If you walk to the bridge, which already towers over the river instead of the roadway, you can find a used bookstore market when you descend to the embankment. A row of little book “houses” along the river, where even if you don’t buy anything, you can have a nice chat with people.
If you look at the pictures, the cathedral does not seem like something worth special attention. But if you come to it at night, stand directly below it, and look up, you begin to drown in its enormity, beyond which the Caucasian night sky covers you.
In fact, there are a lot of churches scattered around Tbilisi. Beautiful, ancient, hidden in courtyards and around corners. And others, on the contrary, stand on the biggest streets, but still surrounded by trees and decorated with endless ornaments.
Look for them, stop to look at them, go inside. It’s worth a look. And if you have time to go to Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia, go to the large, ancient Svetitskhoveli Temple, and go up to Jvari Monastery. Get a feel for these places. It’s not about faith, but the beauty and history of these wonderful structures.
In general, Tbilisi is a city where you can count on pleasant surprises. As you walk around, turn off the big streets more often, be curious! Go into courtyards, entrances, talk to passersby and vendors! And, most importantly, take your time. In New York City, there is nothing to see, but in Tbilisi almost every building and almost every balcony deserves attention!
Author: Katya Manoilo