Dating back to the 4th millennia BC, Tbilisi has been inhabited for thousands of years with the most recent written record being in the 4th century CE.
Founded by King Vakhtang Gorgasali, Tbilisi (meaning warm location) was named after the vast amounts of hot springs in the area. It became the capital in the 6th century CE, which is also when the city began to grow economically, architecturally and played a significant role in trade with Asia and Europe.
In the 12th century, the Tbilisi experienced a Renaissance period where it flourished culturally. However, starting in the 13th century up until the 18th century, the city fell under the control of different powers—from Arabs to Mongols and Iranians to Russians. It wasn’t until the fall of the Soviet Union did Georgia gain its independence. Throughout the centuries, bits and pieces of Tbilisi were developed, making it into a unique city that you may not think of visiting but should. From churches and underground printing houses to authentic restaurants and more, here are some hot spots add to your itinerary if Tbilisi is on your getaway list.
Underground Printing House
One of the most interesting places you can visit in Tbilisi is the Underground Printing House, developed by Stalin. Him and his closest comrades printed over 3,000 pieces of paper containing Soviet propaganda for Russian citizens. The Printing House is located 56 below ground and was used for two years beginning in 1904. Aside from the printing press, the house also features his personal belongings and tales of his life—it’s fascinating. Located in the Avlabari district, the Underground Printing House is open every day from 11am to 6pm.
Tbilisi is known for having fantastic, natural hot springs—the perfect way to relax your muscles after hours of exploring. One of the best is called Abanotubani where most of the sulfur baths can be found, located at the foot of Narikala fort. This area is very historic as well because it’s said to be the place where the hot springs were first found by the King, leading to the establishment of Tbilisi. Aside from the baths, the area also offers visitors beautiful views of old architecture, a shop, cafe and restaurant. You can either choose to use the public baths that are separated by gender, or you can book a private room with a pool and sauna if you’re traveling with family or friends.
To experience the historical part of the city, we recommend heading to Altstadt, where some of the oldest buildings continue to stand. Altstadt features both old and new architecture, cobbled streets, fantastic restaurants, wine shops, hookah bars, sulfur baths, live outdoor music, and is also close to Narikala fortress. To learn about the history and the buildings in the area, we recommend you book a walking tour.
Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary
Anchiskhati Basilica of St Mary is the oldest church in Tilibisi, built in the mid-6th century CE by King Dachi of Iberia. Throughout the centuries, the church was damaged every time it fell under the control of different empires and groups of people. Anchiskhat is a running Georgian Orthodox Church with services on the weekends and a lovely choir that will make your heart sing. If you’re female, please make sure to wear a headscarf in order to step inside. They don’t like photos so please refrain from taking any and just live in the moment!
Georgia is known to have great wine, which is why an evening out to a wine bar is a must. Vino Underground is the first natural wine bar in Tbilisi, established by the best wine producers in the country. You can either enjoy a single wine or do a tasting of the best-selected wines paired with charcuterie, cheese and other little bites. You can also purchase and take a bottle with you and enjoy it outdoors during the summer months. Vino Underground is open from 2pm to 11pm, Monday through Sunday.
Tbilisi, Georgia is a remarkable place to visit for those who are heading towards the Middle East—from the wine and food to the sites and culture. If you do plan a getaway to this destination, we hope this guide will help you discover some places that will leave you with a lifetime of memories to look back on.
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