Old towns, narrow alleys, crooked houses, and small courtyards of Tbilisi, the largest city in Georgia, charms its visitors till day. By Shubhanjana Das
Built in the fifth century and reconstructed as many as 29 times, Tbilisi, the largest city in Georgia is one charmer. If the city was to be scored based on its charm and aura, Tbilisi would bag a perfect 10, such is the quintessential allure of this city. From sulfur baths to puppet theatres, old bazaars and chaikhanas to the iconic leaning tower of Tbilisi, everything about it enthralls you. It is difficult to feel bored in this place even though a certain sense of laid-back calm may envelope you through and through. Find out some unique things about Tbilisi and a few of its hidden gems for the next time you’re in the mood for some travel off-the-beaten path.
Tbilisi’s Unique History
Tbilisi, meaning ‘warm’ in Georgian, was founded way back in the fifth century as a city along a trade route by King Vakhtang who discovered and laid claim on it during one of his hunting expeditions. As for the ‘warm’ bit, it is mostly because Tbilisi’s climate is largely affected by its sulphur waters. It’s history also includes the Iranian conquest, which left its own footprints in the city, like the ritual of worshiping fire and temples built in ode to fire. The ruins of the Ateshgah temple dedicated to fire on Gomi Street in Old Town speak of the city’s history boldly.
The Tbilisi Experience
1. Leaning Tower Of Tbilisi
The old town of Tbilisi is an absolute treasure map where you have to find your way through the alleys to stumble upon the most strange yet wildly amusing buildings you will see. One of these is the Leaning Tower of Tbilisi, a rather disheveled, suspicious looking clock tower held together by a steel beam. It is attached to the puppet theatre and even though an odd-looking structure, it is a wonderful example of modern architecture in the middle of the old town, thus being a stunning contradiction in itself. Wait for it to strike the hour when the window opens at the small balcony and the statue of an angel pops out and strikes the bell. Below the clock is an impressive depiction of the circle of life in a tell-tale manner.
2. Drink And Dine In Tbilisi
The absolute fool-proof way of living the Tbilisi life is to wine and dine like the locals. Known worldwide for its wine and cheese (classic, right?), Tbilisi has more than one kind to offer. Try the mint cheese at one of the city’s best–Bagrat Mezumishvilli, along with iki that he is known throughout the Georgia for. What is ‘iki’, you ask? It is only the oldest drink in Georgia, which predates even the Georgian liquor chacha. Iki’s taste can be compared to that of whiskey and must be tried to know if it’s your kinda drink. For wine, head to Wine Cellar on Mazniashvili Street for a truly spectacular experience of a home that is now opened up to the guests in the form of a restaurant. Wine Cellar offers homemade wine, chacha, and authentic Georgian food for a culinary experience like no other.
3. Dry Bridge Market
Best way to bag the best souvenirs from Tbilisi? Raid its flea markets! The Dry Bridge Market stores just about anything from household items to artwork to even Soviet memorabilia. It is located on a dry bridge (and hence the name) and has its own share of an interesting history. Back in the day, flea markets were a thing only during spring when vendors used to sell their own belonging to the locals for the sustenance of both the sides. However, now, the Dry Bridge market is a tourist hotspot even though English is not the language of trade here.