Published: April 10th 2007April 10th 2007
MUSEUM OF SOVIET OCCUPATION SOON TO OPEN
Arriving in Tbilisi early evening we were delighted to be given a suite room for the 3 of us and had a blast for at least one night before moving into a 2 bed room, the GTM hotel all in all is not too bad except for the exorbitant price of laundry. So we did a walking half day trip of the city saw churches and more churches, the old town etc before returning to the hotel to fill in and sign our Azerbaijan visa application for our crossing the next couple of days. We had a good night dinner at an Indian restaurant and also the Chinese restaurant the next day. The next day was rainy so then I decided to sit around and do some internet for 6 hours! the connection is so slow but i am just so churched out to do some more sightseeing so I stuck around, I got to use the Metro system on my own, the metro here is very deep and the escalator quite fast so you got to pay attention, even the doors on the train close abruptly without warning almost chopped off my arm. Then i met up with John,
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF THE FORT
Angus, and Nigel for the Sulphur baths right next to the hotel, the experience is not quite different from the 1st two I had so far in this trip, we had a private room and you get into this stinking rotten egg smelling pool, it was quite hot as well then the guy calls you to lie on the slab and he exfoliates you front and back then lathers soap and scrubs you, a bit of a massage then rinse with the hot water, I was squirming everytime he pours a bucket on me, it was a good experience and you lose your inhibitions as we all are stark bollock naked getting scrubbed and washed, no time to be shy, not really my cup of tea but i know these guys for a month now and in Overlanding time it's like forever!!
We headed the next day to Telavi and that's where you will hear from me next.
is the capital city of the country of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Kura (Mtkvari) river. The city covers an area of 350 kmÂ² (135 square miles) and has more than 1.345 million inhabitants.
ANGUS AND ME DANCING WITH THE STATUES
the 4th century by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia), Tbilisi is a significant industrial, social, and cultural center in the Caucasus and is emerging as a major transit route for global trade projects. Historically, the city was located along one of the historic Silk Road routes and today it still plays an important role as a trade and transit center due to its strategic location at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The history of the city can be seen by its architecture, where the Haussmannized Rustaveli avenue and the downtown is blended with the narrower streets of Medieval Narikala district.
The demographics of the city is diverse and historically it has been home of peoples from different cultures, religions and ethnicities. Religiously, being overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian, Tbilisi is one of the only places in the world, where the synagogue and the mosque are located next to each other in the ancient Bath district several hundred meters from Metekhi Church. In recent times, Tbilisi has become known for the peaceful Rose Revolution, which took place around Freedom Square and nearby locations after the rigged parliamentary elections of 2003 led to the resignation of the Georgian President
VIEW FROM OUR ROOM IN AT GTM HOTEL, THE METEKHI CHURCH
Notable tourist destinations include Tbilisi Sameba Cathedral, Freedom Square, Sioni Cathedral, Metekhi, Narikala, Parliament of Georgia, Rustaveli Avenue, Turtle lake, Anchiskhati Basilica, Mtatsminda (Holy Mountain), Kashveti Cathedral along with the National and Historic Museums of Georgia and numbers of art galleries. Tbilisi is the home of famous artists. The city life was immortalized in their art by Niko Pirosmani and Lado Gudiashvili.
Tbilisi's favorable and strategic location did not necessarily bode well for its existence as Eastern Georgia's/Iberia's capital. Located strategically in the heart of the Caucasus between Europe and Asia, Tbilisi became an object of rivalry between the region's various powers such as Persia, The Byzantine Empire, Arabia, and the Seljuk Turks. The cultural development of the city was therefore heavily dependent on who ruled the city at various times.
Tbilisi is located in Eastern Georgia within the Tbilisi Depression along both banks of the Kura (Mtkvari) River. The elevation of the city ranges from 380-600 meters above sea level (1246-1968 feet). To the north, Tbilisi is bounded by the Saguramo Range, to the east and south-east by the Iori Plain, to the south and west by various endings (sub-ranges) of the Trialeti Range.
UNDERGROUND METRO (PHOTO COURTESY OF ANGUS)
The relief of Tbilisi is quite complex. The part of the city which lies on the left bank of the Mtkvari (Kura) River extends for more than 30km (19 miles) from the Avchala District to River Lochini. The part of the city which lies on the right side of the Mtkvari River on the other hand is built along the foothills of the Trialeti Range, the slopes of which in many cases descend all the way to the edges of the river Mtkvari. The mountains, therefore, are a significant barrier to urban development on the right bank of the Mtkvari River. This type of a geographic environment creates pockets of very densely developed areas while other parts of the city are left undeveloped due to the complex topographic relief.
North of the city is a large reservoir (commonly known as the Tbilisi Sea) fed by irrigation canals
Tbilisi is a multicultural city. The city is home to more than 100 different ethnic groups. Around 80% of the population is ethnically Georgian, with significant populations of other ethnic groups which includes Russians, Armenians, and Azeris. Along with the above mentioned groups, Tbilisi is also home to various other ethnic
groups including Ossetians, Abkhazians, Ukrainians, Greeks, Jews, Estonians, Germans, Kurds, Assyrians, and others. In recent years, the Turkish and Chinese populations of the city have experienced the fastest rates of growth.
More than 85% of the residents of Tbilisi practice various forms of Christianity (the most predominant of which is the Georgian Orthodox Church). The Russian Orthodox Church as well as the Armenian Apostolic Church have significant following within the city as well. Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and other Christian denominations also make up the city's Christian minority. A large minority of the population (around 8%) practices Islam (mainly Sunni Islam). Judaism is also common, but to a lesser extent (about 2% of Tbilisi's population practices Judaism). Tbilisi has been historically known for religious tolerance. This is especially evident in the city's Old Town, where a Mosque, Synagogue, and Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches can all be found within less than 500 meters from each other.
The Tbilisi Holy Trinity Cathedral commonly known as Sameba is the main Georgian Orthodox cathedral, located in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Constructed between 1995 and 2004, it is the largest religious building not only in Georgia but in the region of South
Caucasus, and is listed among the largest Orthodox churches in the world.
Narikala is an ancient fortress overlooking Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, and the Kura river. The fortress consists of two walled sections on a steep hill between the sulphur baths and the botanical gardens of Tbilisi. On the lower court there is a recently restored St Nicholas church and a small cafe selling some refreshments.
The Metekhi church is a cross-cupola church. While this style was the most common throughout the Middle Ages, the Metekhi church is somewhat anachronistic with its three projecting apses in the east facade and the four freestanding pillars supporting the cupola within. The church is made of brick and dressed stone. The restoration of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries mostly employed brick. The facade is for the most part smooth, with decorative elements concentrated around the windows of the eastern apses. Horizontal bands below the gables run around all four sides and serve as a unifying element. The north portico of the main entrance is not a later addition but was built at the same time as the rest of the church.
There are more photos below