Georgia’s cobbled capital is an enchanting city bursting with ornate architecture, a rich history and drool-worthy gastronomy. Set in the valley of the Mtkvari river, Tbilisi is a culture vulture’s paradise and a foodie’s dream come true. Here’s our guide to what to do and see in Tbilisi.
Towering over the centre of the city, you’ll do well to find a spot in Tbilisi that isn’t shaded by the silhouette of the enormous Holy Trinity Cathedral. Known by locals as Sameba, the cathedral is the third largest Orthodox church in the world and stands at a staggering height of 97.5 metres. Sitting on Elia Hill just above the left bank of the Mtkvari river, work on the structure began in 1995 and only finished in 2004. It’s iconic golden dome is unmissable and the entire complex consists of the main cathedral, free standing bell tower, monastery and theological academy. Ornamented with stunning arches and impressive frescoes, it’s impossible not to add this cathedral to your list of what to do and see when you visit Tbilisi.
Watching over the city from its perch on Sololaki Hill, the Mother of Georgia statue has been the symbol of Tbilisi since 1958. Built by prominent Georgian sculptor, Elguja Amashukeli, the 20 metre high aluminium monument was constructed in commemoration of the capital’s 1500th anniversary. Formerly known as Kartlis Deda, the figure depicts a woman dressed in Georgian national costume, characterising the country’s welcoming attitude with the bowl of wine and fighting spirit with the sword. Reached by cable car or good, old fashioned walking, be sure to take in the other sights of the hill such as the castle and ruins of an ancient shahtakhi fortress.
A newer addition to the cityscape of Tbilisi’s old town, the quirky, higgledy-piggledy leaning clock tower has quickly become a symbol of the ancient cobbled streets. Oozing fairy-tale charm, the tower sits outside Gabriadze puppet theatre and was built by the theatre owner himself during a revamp of the charismatic structure. Watch in awe as a little angel pops out of the door near the top and strikes the bell to ring in the hour and avert your eyes to below the clock face where a screen opens and re-enacts the circle of life. Tucked down the winding myriad of old streets, this quaint attraction is one not to be missed when visiting Tbilisi.
Acting as the highest point in the city, the amusements at Mtatsminda Park are without doubt one of the best attractions in Tbilisi. Take the funicular or hop on one of the local buses and watch the sun set over the sprawling cityscape below from a carriage on the Ferris wheel or with a drink in hand from one of the many bars in the park. Located on the slopes of Mount Mtatsminda, the park is the ideal family day out with carousels, roller-coasters, water slides, restaurants cafes and a plethora of little souvenir shops. Boasting over 100 years of rich history, the open space has been the playground of locals for since it opened in the 1930s.
Wander through the café lined street of Erekle II and continue on to the elegant glass and steel footbridge that connects the city over the Mtkvari river. Designed by Italian Michele De Lucchi, the bridge is one of the most eye-catching avant-garde structures in the city. Opened since 2010, the pedestrian bridge is a real sight for sore eyes, with its wavy bow-shaped cover that sits above the LED lit walkway. Illuminated every evening 90 minutes before sunset, the bridge’s lights pulsate in Morse code spelling out the elements of the periodic table that make up the human body. A truly unique attraction, this one should definitely be added to your list of what to do and see when you visit Tbilisi.
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Flights to Tbilisi
- Lucy Norris