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  • Writer's pictureKaren O.

Tbilisi – The city that loves you

Food, Wine, Sculptures and History…. Call it my idea of city exploration.

I am spending a weekend in Tbilisi with the hope of seeing as much as I can in that little time. I chose to stay at the Hotel Ambassadori and it is an amazing choice. It is located in the old town and a good walking distance to most tourist areas in the old town including Rike Park, Freedom Square and the St George Monument, Peace Bridge, Gabriadze Clock, Sioni Cathedral, good casinos and amazing restaurants around.

Some of Georgia’s popular cuisine include;

1. Khachapuri a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread. The filling contains cheese (fresh or aged, most commonly sulguni), eggs and other ingredients. It is Georgia’s national dish.

2. Khinkali is the Georgian style dumpling which looks like the Chinese Money bag dumpling. There are variations of khinkali across different parts of Georgia and the fillings used can differ from area to area. The original recipe, the so-called khevsuruli, consisted of only minced meat (lamb or beef and pork mixed), onions, chili pepper, salt and cumin.

3. Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian candle-shaped candy. The main ingredients are grape must, nuts and flour. Almonds, walnuts, hazel nuts and sometimes raisins are threaded onto a string, dipped in thickened grape juice or fruit juices and dried in the shape of a sausage.

If you would like to explore more on Georgian cuisine, you can take a look at this webpage

Georgia is known for traditional winemaking and the culture as well as history of the Georgians are embodied in their wine which symbolizes hospitality and tolerance.

Kakheti has developed over 500 varieties of wine in Georgia, and there you have one of the famous wine making factories. One my visit, I had a tour of the winery, the wine making factory to witness the art of traditional wine making as well as tasting their varieties of wines, red, wine, dry, semi sweet and sweet.

After my visit to the Kakheti wine factory, I head to the Bodbe Monastery in Kakheti also known as the Bodbe Monastery of St Nino, to visit its stunning flower beds, vineyards and a healing spring.

From Bodbe Monastery, I head to the Georgian town of Sighnaghi, located in the eastern part of Kakheti, and known as the City of Love for a picturesque and amazing scenery. It is known as a city of love because a lot of couples get married and honeymoon in this town.

The bridge of Peace is a beautiful pedestrian contemporary design architectural beauty that stretches 150 metres (490 ft) over the Kura River, connecting Old Tbilisi with the new city district. The Bridge provides a view of the Metekhi Church, statue of the city’s founder Vakhtang Gorgasali, and the Narikala Fortress on one side, and Baratashvili Bridge and Presidential Office on the other side.

Gabriadze Clock

This weird-looking tower is actually not an old structure. I found this in the small street behind my hotel while taking a stroll and thought how fascinating it looked. It is actually a modern building, attached to the puppet theatre of a renowned puppeteer named Rezo Gabriadze. He built the theatre by himself over a period of thirty years, reusing old pieces from abandoned structures of the old town, and from buildings destroyed following a major earthquake. The weird clock tower was added in 2011, after a four-year construction phase.

On the hour of 12 noon, a window opens at the small balcony at the top, and a mannequin of an angel strikes the bell. Below the clock, a screen opens and shows the circle of life: boy meets girl, marriage, childbirth and funeral. It’s an interesting show and a tourist attraction if you come across it.

I am also visiting the Mtskheta region of Georgia and my first stop is the Jvari Monastery. The Jvari monsatery is a sixth century Georgian Orthodox monastery near Mtskheta, eastern Georgia. Along with other historic structures of Mtskheta, it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral of twelve apostles is also located in the historic town of Mtskheta, Georgia, to the northwest of the Georgian capital Tbilisi. It is considered a masterpiece of the Early Middle Ages, and also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

St George Monument located at the Freedom Square is a memorial located in Tbilisi, Georgia, dedicated to the freedom and independence of the Georgian nation.

I continue walking around the city, taking in the sights, the sounds, the air, the people.

Cable car at Rike Park connects Rike Park on the left bank of the Mtkvari river with Narikala Fortress. For 2 Lari you can head up the hill and get a 360-degrees view of Tbilisi. At the station a-top the Hill, you can either turn right to the Kartlis Deda statue, or left to the Narikala Fortress. There is also a zip-line at the botanical gardens opposite the cable car station on the hill, available at different times of the year depending on the weather.

Kartlis Deda – Mother of Georgia

Kartlis Deda is a monument in Tbilisi, which is now a symbol of the city. The statue was erected on the top of Sololaki hill in 1958, the year Tbilisi celebrated its 1500th anniversary. Prominent Georgian sculptor Elguja Amashukeli designed the twenty-metre aluminium figure of a woman in Georgian national dress. She symbolizes the Georgian national character: in her left hand she holds a bowl of wine to greet those who come as friends, and in her right hand is a sword for those who come as enemies.

Narikala Fortress is an ancient fortress overlooking the city of Tbilisi. The fortress was established in the 4th century as Shuris-tsikhe (i.e., “Invidious Fort”) and it was a Persian citadel. It was considerably expanded by the Umayyads in the 7th century and later, by king David the Builder (1089–1125). The Mongols renamed it “Narin Qala” (i.e., “Little Fortress”). Most of extant fortifications date from the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1827, parts of the fortress were damaged by an earthquake and demolished. It was never restored till date.

Waterfall in Abanotubani

Abanotubani, which means the “place of Baths” housing a lot of sulfur baths in the area also has a hidden waterfall unknown to a lot of people. While reading, I found a web link which gave a detailed description of the hidden waterfall in Abanotubani and it’s origin.

It’s time to go home and I must say, I have enjoyed my time exploring Tbilisi. If you do not like cold and wet, then winter months isn’t for you and the summer months might be better for visits but Tbilisi has very beautiful snow mountains and snow activities which I was unable to do on this trip.

It’s a lovely city, people are friendly and there’s a lot to see. Getting to Tbilisi shouldn’t be too expensive as well. Food, drinks and tours are also very affordable.

Until next time, I hope you have enjoyed Tbilisi vicariously through me.

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