Have you been to a city where you can find Georgian Orthodox, Armenian Gregorian and Roman Catholic churches, a synagogue, a mosque and a Zoroastrian temple all within a 5-minute walk? Then you should definitely come to Georgia and visit its capital Tbilisi - a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious city on the crossroads of history, a city neither European nor Asian but a heady blend of both East and West. Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century AD and has attracted visitors ever since, drawn by the hot springs for which the city is named after, by the lively atmosphere of its cobbled streets and caravanserais or simply by what Alexandre Dumas called the "strange, fascinating charm" of this "city of legend and romance".
The Old Town has much to offer. Take a stroll along narrow cobbled streets, pass traditional old houses with carved wooden balconies, visit the magnificent Holy Trinity Cathedral, relax in the warm waters of the historic Sulphur baths and visit some of the city's key historical sites: Metekhi Church, Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Church. And enjoy its museums: The National Museum of History, The National Art Museum, and The Open-Air Museum of Georgian Folk Architecture.
The Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Holy Trinity Cathedral commonly called Tsminda Sameba Cathedral and known as the symbol of new Georgia, is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church located in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the 3rd tallest Eastern Orthodox cathedral in the World (101m high) and one of the largest religious buildings in the World by total area. Sameba is built on the St. Elia Hill, which rises above the left bank of the Kura River (Mtkvari) in the historic neighborhood of Avlabari in Old Tbilisi. It is a synthesis of traditional styles dominating the Georgian church architecture at various stages in history and has some Byzantine undertones. The beauty and size of the cathedral are indeed breathtaking.
"A great sense of freedom and well-being permeated me. All my tiredness had gone and I felt strong enough to lift a mountain" - Alexandre Dumas, after a visit to the Sulphur baths in 1858. Fed by naturally hot mineral waters (47°C), the Sulphur baths have been an essential part of Tbilisi life for centuries. The brick-domed underground baths were built in the 17th century and produce 3 million liters of water every day. To make your visit to the baths complete, make sure to take the invigorating massage.
Metekhi Church with the equestrian statue of the city's royal founder standing above the steep cliffs of the Mtkvari River is one of the classic images of Old Tbilisi. The church was built in the 13th century and has been destroyed many times by the enemies. During the Tsarist regime, there was a prison there and in Soviet times, Metekhi was used as a theater. In was only in the late 1980s that the church was reconstructed again.
This historic fortress was built in the 4th century on a steep hill overlooking the river and predates even the founding of the city itself. The Persian name Nari-Kala ("inaccessible fortress") has proven apt throughout the long centuries of invasion and foreign domination, but today visitors are welcome to climb up and enjoy the superb views from the citadel walls.
Built in the 7th century and named after Mount Zion in Jerusalem. This cathedral is considered one of the most sacred places in the country since it houses the holy cross of St. Nino, the young woman who converted Georgia to Christianity in the early 4th century.
The oldest church in Tbilisi built in the 6th century and named for an invaluable icon of the Savior which was once kept here and is now on display in the Treasury of the Georgian Art Museum.
Laid out in the 19th century and named after the great 12th century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli. This busy street is now at the heart of 21st century Tbilisi. A stroll will take you pass the Moorish-style opera house and the theater, the Russian Viceroy's palace and the Parliament building, not to mention the dozens of cafés, restaurants and shops you can find along the way.
The Aerial Tramway
Soaring over the Mtkvari River and the rooftops of the old town, the Aerial Tramway in Tbilisi provides a fun and fast way to get to and from Narikala Fortress and Rike Park. The tramway, opened in 2012, carries passengers in glass-sided, climate-controlled cars and offers unrivalled views of the town and its surrounds. Hop on the tram at Rike Park and avoid a long and difficult walk up to the fortress while gaining some memorable views of the town below you.