Tbilisi is the economic, cultural, political and social heart of Georgia. It is where Georgians gravitate when they seek excitement and action, where history comes alive in a dramatic hillside setting and where ancient Eurasian crossroads meet a modern city looking forward to the future. The capital is gaining a new dimension as its cultural scene grows, prestigious new building projects develop and more and more restaurants, shops and leisure facilities move in. The beating heart of the region, Tbilisi should not be missed by any traveler to the Caucasus.
Visitors can explore all of Georgia without ever leaving the capital thanks to the Open-Air Museum of Ethnography. The museum, located near Vake Park, features almost 70 traditional houses imported from around the country. Spread over the wooded hillside, exploring the museum is like taking a walk both through the country and through time. The mostly wooden buildings are outfitted with traditional utensils, tools, furnishings and rugs, and the archaeological section includes a 6th-century basilica.
The history of Tbilisi comes alive even more at the Narikala Fortress. Construction on the citadel began in the 4th century, but most of what remains today was built in the 8th century. The Turks, Persians and Georgians all left their mark on the iconic building, creating an interesting visual timeline of the area’s history. Although an 1827 explosion left the fortress in ruins, the interior Church of St. Nicholas was rebuilt in the 1990s, restoring it to its original majestic glory. Even if history is not your passion, you can appreciate the superb views of the city from the top of the fortress.
Looking over the city from the fortress, you will notice a number of religious sights towering in the distance. One of the most significant is the Holy Trinity Cathedral, known to the locals as Tsminda Sameba. Impossible to miss as the crowning glory of Elia Hill, the cathedral is the largest and most important symbol of the country’s post-Soviet religious revival. It is also a stunning example of traditional Georgian architecture. The marble, concrete, granite and brick building culminates in a gold-covered cross that towers above the central dome at 84 meters. Inside, the highlight is an elaborately illuminated copy of the New Testament encased in a jewel-studded silver cover near the altar.
Other religious sights worth visiting include the city’s oldest surviving church, the 17th-century Anchiskhati Basilica, Metekhi Church, Kashveti Church, the spectacularly restored Sioni Cathedral and the large Armenian Cathedral of Saint George.
There are far more churches than museums in the capital, but those that do exist are outstanding. The Fine Arts Museum is a comprehensive collection of Georgian art spanning from the ancient era through today. The treasury section is the highlight. Only accessible with a free guide, the gallery is filled with icons, jewelery and crosses made of precious metals and shining stones. The wealth of artifacts in rubies, emeralds and pearls are as beautiful as they are sacred.
The Museum of Georgia is also worth a visit to learn more about the country’s history and culture. Throughout the main rooms, visitors come face to face with pieces like 1.75-million-year-old skulls, pre-Christian relics, dazzling gold artifacts and items from the Soviet occupation. Individually, these pieces are interesting, but together they paint a fascinating picture of the country’s story.
If you still want to delve further into the capital, visit the attractive Vake Park district, the Old Town’s twisting alleys and hidden courtyards, the high-arched Georgian Parliament building, the main artery of Rustavelis Gamziri, Mount Mtatsminda, the Statue of Karlis Deda and Abanotubani, the sulphur baths that once hosted Pushkin and Alexander Dumas.
Tbilisi Geographical Location
Tbilisi is located in southeast central Georgia on the banks of the Kura River. It is the largest city in Georgia and has a population of approximately 1,490,000.
Georgian is the official language of Georgia and is spoken by the majority of inhabitants.
Tbilisi Predominant Religion
- 84.5% Orthodox Christian
- 10% Muslim
- 4% Armenian-Gregorian
- 0.5% Catholic
- 0.5% Other
- 0.5% None
Orthodox Christian is the official religion of Georgia.
The Lari is the official currency of Georgia.
Tbilisi experiences mild summers and cold winters. Precipitation is present throughout the year, but is most prominent in spring and early summer. Snow is common in winter.
Tbilisi Main Attractions
- Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures
- Numismatic Museum
- Old Tbilisi
Other Attraction in Tbilisi
- Janashia Museum
- G. Chitaia Ethnographical Open-Air Museum
- Museum of Art