Culture & Travel16 October 2023
Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, captivates visitors with its rich history and stunning natural scenery. Influenced by Persia, Byzantium, Umayyad, Ottoman, and Seljuks, the city seamlessly blends art, nature, and culture, presenting both a traditional and contemporary face. There are numerous reasons to explore Tbilisi, but perhaps the most enticing is its visa-free entry policy, requiring only a chip ID card. Below, we've curated must-see destinations in Tbilisi that promise unforgettable cultural experiences and gastronomic delights.
Magnificent Tbilisi Synagogue
Constructed in the late 19th century by Akhalzikhe Jews who settled in Tbilisi, this iconic edifice, also known as the Georgian Synagogue, is an essential stop. Fashioned from eclectic style bricks, the building's origins date back to 1895. If historical architecture piques your interest, this is an unmissable sight.
Situated near Narika Fortress, this bustling market is a treasure trove of goods. Admire the picturesque Metheki Bridge and Kura River while capturing some stunning photographs. Along the way, you can relax and savor local cuisines and beverages at the various cafes and restaurants. The area boasts an array of shops, offering a taste of Georgian culture and heritage all in one place.
An essential historical landmark in Georgia, the Jumah Mosque bears testament to the country's diverse religious history. With a storied past shaped by numerous civilizations, this mosque, according to records, was originally built by the Ottomans in the 1700s, with the present structure reconstructed in the 1800s. Notably, it serves as a place of worship for both Sunni and Shia Muslims, embodying the city's harmonious blend of cultures.
Nestled at the heart of the city, the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral stands as an emblem of Tbilisi's rich past. Tracing its roots back to the 11th century, this grand cathedral's interior is adorned with exquisite frescoes. Notably, the cathedral serves as the final resting place for many significant figures in Georgian history.
One of the country's oldest places of worship, Jvari Monastery holds great significance as a local pilgrimage site. Open to all without an entry fee, the monastery's construction dates back to 588-604. A site once used as a refuge by pagans before the advent of Christianity, this magnificent monastery is a must-see during your visit to Tbilisi.
Shota Rusteveli Street
Undoubtedly the city's most renowned thoroughfare, Shota Rusteveli Street stretches over 1.5 kilometers. On this vibrant street, you'll find an array of shops, banks, cafes, and intricate sculptures. Not to miss is the city's oldest building, the Palace of Youth, constructed in 1868. Reflecting the best of Renaissance-style architecture, it once served as the residence of the Caucasus Governor during the Russian Tsar's reign. Both inside and out, the street is adorned with European architectural gems, creating a delightful sightseeing experience.
Situated in the heart of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, this square boasts a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Particularly at night, it transforms into a breathtaking spectacle with its stunning illumination. The street is lined with numerous historical buildings, shops, stores, and underground passages. If you're looking to purchase souvenirs from Tbilisi, you'll find a plethora of options awaiting you at Freedom Square.
The Peace Bridge, spanning the Kura River in Tbilisi, is a striking example of contemporary architecture. Unveiled to the public in 2010, this bridge is a must-see, especially in the evening when it comes alive with dancing couples, buskers, and musicians.
Accessible by crossing the Peace Bridge, Rike Park should definitely be on your list. Within the park, you can spot sections of the Berlin Wall gifted by the German government. At the opposite end, there's a cable car leading to Narikala Fortress. Opting for the cable car is a delightful and time-saving alternative if you prefer not to walk. While on the ride, you'll have ample opportunities to capture stunning photos as you soar over the Mtkvari River.
Whether via the cable car or by foot, we highly recommend exploring Narikala Fortress. Despite sustaining significant damage during the 1827 earthquake, some of the original sections remain intact. Within the fortress, you'll find the Church of St. Nicholas, which also endured damage during the earthquake but was subsequently restored in 1996. Climbing up to Narikala Fortress offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, making it a favorite spot for tourists to snap memorable photos with the castle and the city as their backdrop.