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Tbilisi , the capital of Georgia, the city of contrasts, as it is called by many tourists who come to visit it, a city where fortresses from the Meidu Age coexist perfectly with the imposing and modern structures of office or residential buildings.
With a rich history, Tbilisi has known both invasions of migratory peoples, it has seen its buildings destroyed countless times, but it has always been reborn following restorations that managed to keep the old history of this city almost intact.
Tbilisi manages to reveal its rich history and culture to every tourist who arrives here. Let’s discover together the 4 most important tourist attractions in Tbilisi that you and I can visit during the next city break.
Shall we start?
1. Narikala Fortress
Narikala Fortress is today one of the most visited places in Tbilisi and no one leaves the city without visiting it and making a foray into the history of this wonderful place. The fortress attracts the attention of those in any part of the city of Tbilisi due to its imposing location. Being a defense fortress, it was erected at the highest point of the settlement, offering at the same time impressive views over the Mtkvari river and the entire city, and after dark, the view takes on a special charm.
The fortress is even called Shuris-tsikhe – Rival Fortress , this fact due to the different periods in which it was built. It was initially raised since the 4th century, during the Persian occupation, and was continued by the Arab emirs, in the 7th century; moreover, the latter had set up their residence right inside the fortress. The Narikala fortress is today a symbol of the defensive architecture of the city of Tbilisi from antiquity.
You have two ways to get here, both on very beautiful routes: the first option is on foot, climbing the Meidan (the old bazaar), one of the most beautiful places in the old part of Tbilisi, and the second is by cable car, from Rike Park .
If you choose to do a little movement, choose the first option; instead, if you opt for a cable car ride, the price of a ticket is 2.5 Lari (~1 Euro). The cable car has a maximum capacity of 8 people, where tourists will be treated to amazing views. In addition, the floors of the cable car are completely made of glass, to increase the visibility of the occupants in all directions. In just 2 minutes of ascent, you cover a difference in level of 686 meters. Once you reach the top, you will be greeted by the gigantic aluminum statue called Kartlis Deda in Georgian or ” mother of Georgia “”, with a height of 20 meters. It depicts a woman with a sword in one hand and a cup of wine in the other. The statue has a special symbolism – it signifies both the strong character of Georgian women, who are hospitable to guests but also fighters when the situation calls for it.
Once you arrive here, you can visit the remains of the ancient fortress; inside it you will be able to see a church built relatively recently, between 1996-1997, the Church of St. Nicholas , built on the site of an old church belonging to the 12th century, but which was completely destroyed by a fire. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes showing scenes from both the Bible and the history of Georgia.
2. National Museum of History in Tbilisi
The National Museum of History is the alternative name for the Simon Janashiya Museum in Georgia. The museum takes place in a series of buildings in Tbilisi, but you will find the largest collection of exhibits on Rustavelli Street , in the three-story building, with a special architecture, belonging to the old Georgian style.
3. Metekhi Temple
An important ancient edifice of the city of Tbilisi is the Metekhi Temple dating from the twelfth century; it is located on the opposite side of the Narikala Fortress next to the bronze equestrian statue depicting King Vaghtang Gorgasali , the founder of the city of Tbilisi. All these aspects make this tourist objective an important landmark for those who want to understand more about the history of Georgia.
The Metekhi temple was mentioned for the first time in the chronicles of the 13th century; it has suffered a series of destructions and repeated reconstructions over time.
The first significant destruction took place during the Mongol invasion, after this episode the most important restoration took place. The second destruction took place in the 15th century, following the attacks of the Persian armies, and the temple was then rebuilt by the Georgian states in the 16th-17th centuries. Another restoration took place in the middle of the 19th century, when all the remaining fortifications were dismantled and replaced with a building that served as a prison.
4. The Clock Tower or the Leaning Tower of Tbilisi
The Clock Tower or the Leaning Tower of Tbilisi is one of the most unusual buildings in the city. You can find this building, with a unique structure, in the old center; although its architecture may lead you to think of a building built in antiquity, this leaning tower is a modern one, attached to the puppet theater of the famous puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze .
Renzo Gabriadze is the one behind the idea of building this tower and the theater itself. The puppet theater was founded in 1981, becoming the first Georgian puppet theater.
The theater, as well as the leaning tower in Tbilisi, have their own story; the one who would have built them is Rezo Gabriadze himself , the one who undertook to erect these two structures reusing the usable parts found in the abandoned buildings of the old city or the buildings destroyed after the earthquake. Gabriadze dedicated no less than 30 years to building the theater.
The leaning clock tower is the architectural element that was added later, in 2010, after a four-year construction period.
Once you arrive here, you will definitely be impressed by the unusual architecture of the tower, as well as the interactive scene unfolding hour by hour. What happens then? A window of the small balcony at the top opens, revealing an angel who touches the bell, marking the exact time. Below, under the clock, you can witness an equally emotional scene that marks the “circle of life”: the man meets the woman, the marriage follows, then the birth of the child and the funeral. You can watch this scene twice a day, respectively at 12:00 and 19:00.