Located on the crossroad of Europe and Asia, Tbilisi has it all. Built near hot springs and surrounded by mountains, it is a place you should definitely visit. The city is beautiful, the people are warm and the weather is perfect.
Whether you are planning to move to Tbilisi or just looking for a place to stay, you need to know a bit more about its neighborhoods.
From the cobblestone walkways, to the Narikala fortress and sulfur baths in the old Tbilisi, there is something for you to see at this beautiful city.
Mtatsminda is the heart of Tbilisi. Named after the Mtatsminda mountain, the neighborhood is located on its hills. Mtatsminda district is the downtown of Tbilisi. There is the parliament of Georgia, along with other administrative buildings. The district is the home to variety of museums and movie theaters. There are few churches, which besides being the religious temples, also are treasures of art and architecture.
The district is home to a famous theaters: the Rustaveli Theater, the Griboedov Theater, Liberty Theater, as well as Opera and Ballet Theater are located in Mtatsminda district. Mtatsminda is the area of high-profile, exquisite hotels, like Marriott Hotel, Radisson Blu Iveria and Astora.
Mtatsminda is hard to imagine, without Mama Daviti Church, The Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures and funicular. Named after a priest St. Davit Gareji, the 6th century church is built on the grounds of a small cave, where the Saint used to live. There is also a mountain spring, which is thought to have a miraculous healing power. On the same land, there is the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures. As the name suggests, it is a resting place for famous Georgians (and not only Georgians). The grave of the first president of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia is there, as well as Russian poet Alexander Griboyedov’s grave. Besides religious and sentimental value, this place provides an unforgettable view of the city. But, if you want more breathtaking views, you must take a funicular to the Mtatsminda Park on top of the mountain. As the carts elevate on the slopes, picturesque view opens up.
On the territory of the district there are many monuments of history and architecture. There is the building of the Museum of Fine Arts, which used to be a theological seminary, where Stalin studied. Every street and every building in Mtatsminda has its own story, and even locals may not know them all. The Mtatsminda district is an endless interweaving of lanes, hills, narrow cobblestone streets, short dead ends and unexpected turns. Take time to walk in these streets and don’t worry about getting lost.
Located between the Sololaki Range and the southern slopes of the Mtatsminda Mountain, Sololaki is one of the oldest neighborhood of Tbilisi. During the time of Arab rule, the irrigation channel (Arabic “sulu-lah”) was restored. It brought water to the “Castle garden”, which was located in today’s Botanical garden.
The name stuck and later, the whole mountain slope was called Sololaki. The area was covered with gardens, which were still existed till the 40-50s of the 19th century.
That is, when Georgian nobility and the bourgeois settled here. They built huge mansions, most of which are still standing proudly among new buildings. Citizens decorated the facades of houses, courtyards and front doors in an original and tasteful way. In the design of the facades they used elements of almost all known architectural styles: Classicism, Eastern, Renaissance, Neo-Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, European and Modern.
No need to worry about getting around here; everything is within a walking distance.
Abanotubani is where the story of Tbilisi begins. The name literally means bath neighborhood, so that’s exactly what it is.
Archaeological discoveries revealed, that the territory of Tbilisi was inhabited as early as 4th millennium BC. However, the legend tells a story of founding Tbilisi in 4th century, by king Vakhtang I Gorgasali of Iberia.
One pleasant morning, the king went hunting in region of Mtskheta; the capital of Georgia at a time. The king’s falcon chased a pheasant and eventually caught it, but both birds fell into a hot spring and died. King Vakhtang was thrilled with the discovery, so he decided to build a city on this location. The hot springs played a role in naming the city as well. Tbili means warm in Georgian, so the city was named Tbilisi. There are warm sun and warm hearted people in Tbilisi as well, though.
Besides its world famous and well phrased sulfur baths, Abanotubani is a crossroad of cultures. Tbilisi has been a flagman of tolerance and coexistence in a region for centuries. In Abanotubani you can see a mosque, church and synagogue all within walking distance from each other.
When visiting tbilisi Abanotubani is an absolute must see. It has it all: flowing Mtkvari river, Botanical garden, Narikala fortress, mountain or flat riverside. With its sulfur baths and colorful balconies, that are hung from the cliffs Abanotubani is the most picturesque neighborhoods of Tbilisi.
First written document; diploma of donation, where “Avlabari” is mentioned dates back to 1392 .
The area was an integral part of the Metekhi rock, but only in the XVIII century, during the reign of Erekle II, it was merged to the city.
The word “bare” means the edge, fence. Since it was located outside of the city walls, the name “Avlabari” meant the outskirts.
Usually, Avlabari was populated by peasants, who worked for the king, nobles and priests. Also, the neighborhood was known for its craftsmen. Besides the Georgians, Persians, Greeks and Armenians used to live in Avlabari.
Between 1770 and 1781, Erekle II and later his son Giorgi XII, settled Armenian refugees in Avlabari.
Since then, the neighborhood has been gentrified and now it is a gem of Tbilisi. Examples of ancient Tbilisi residences are still preserved and they are standing proudly next to newer buildings. There, still can be seen the old city walls and remains of royal fortress. There are handful of churches on the territory, but probably most notable is Sameba: Holy Trinity Cathedral. Its surroundings offer a peaceful atmosphere and great views of the city.
Saburtalo is a large district in Tbilisi, but it has no historical or cultural sights. It’s a typical residential area, with lots of stores, universities, and decent amount of restaurants. Also, there are plenty of children’s centers, where kids have fun, play and eat. The district has a subway line – Saburtalo.
Pekini, Kostava and Vazha Pshavela Streets are the main streets of the district. Therefore, they are the busiest streets in terms of traffic. There is a Sport Hall in Saburtalo, where besides sport events large concerts are held as well.
There are several parks in the area. One of the favorite spot for locals – Lisi Lake, is located in Saburtalo. Besides cooling down in hot summer days, visitors can stroll around the lake or lounge in the shade. There are plenty of children’s playgrounds, as well as bars and cafes for adults.
The district is famous for the unusual building of Bank of Georgia headquarters.
After 1905 Russian Revolution, the new government fought against old bourgeois lifestyle. Therefore, they refused to live in an old fashioned Sololaki mansions. Instead, the new government decided to build the new neighborhood in suburbs. Thus, Vake became a district, where the Georgian riches, elite, politicians, and scientists lived. However, it has changed over time, but it still remains to be a fancy neighborhood, with posh cafés and bars, shops, and high-priced housing.
Located around Chavchavadze and Abashidze avenues, this is Tbilisi’s one of fancy districts. While not quite as atmospheric as Old Tbilisi, Vake is home to some lovely parks, pleasant nineteenth-century architecture, and some of the city’s most high-end shopping. There are also plenty of upscale bars and restaurants in this area. Also, there is Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University campus. The university is founded by Ivane Javakhishvili in 1918 and is one of the historical buildings in Tbilisi.
However, just like Saburtalo, the area doesn’t have any cultural or historical sights for visitors to explore. Still, there are places in Vake, that are worth visiting. There is a children’s park Mziuri and large Vake Park. From nearby, you can take an aerial cable car to the Turtle Lake, where you can find nice lounge areas to soak up the sun. From there, visitors can walk down the mountain and on the way explore an open air Museum of Ethnography. It is a lovely place, with an authentic Georgian architecture and craftwork, from various regions of the country.
Vake does not have a subway. In terms of connectivity to the rest of the city, it’s quite close to Rustaveli Avenue. In order to better explore the neighborhood, you can take a nice, long walk towards the city center.
One of the oldest neighborhood of Tbilisi; Vera, used to be a village outside of the city. It took its name from a Vere river, which flows through Varazi valley to Mtkvari river. There was an important trade route, which was protected by special guard. XII-XIII centuries Church of Saint Andrew; commonly referred to as Blue Monastery, is still standing in Vera Park.
Today Vera is one of the central neighborhoods of Tbilisi. It has it all; shopping, recreation, relax and venues of cultural events. Vere is considered to be an artsy part of Tbilisi. There you can find: Tbilisi Concert Hall, Pantomime Theater and street artists of Zemeli. Then, there is “Perovsaya”; the street of bars, restaurant and cafes, with live music and delicious cuisine.