Travel information, Geography, History
The largest city in the contry and capital of Georgia,Tbilisi stands on the both banks of the River Mtkvari, in a valley surrounded by hills. Tbilisi is located in the South Caucasus and has the shape of an amphitheatre surrounded by mountains on three sides. To the north, Tbilisi is bounded by the Saguramo Range, to the east and south-east by the Iori Plain, to the south and west by various endings (sub-ranges) of the Trialeti Range.
The name for the city derives from the word tbili. According to legend, in the mid-5th century, King Vakhtang Gorgasali and his retinue were hunting in the local forests. After shooting a pheasant, the king went to look for the wounded bird and found it boiling in a hot sulphur spring. The King liked the natural hot waters and ordered for a town to be built on the spot. “Tbili” in Georgian means “warm,” from which the name Tbilisi was derived, meaning “warm location.” Soon thereafter, the king moved his residence from the town of Mtskheta to the new capital. If you visit Tbilisi, someone - be it a tourist guide, salesperson or taxi driver will by all means tell you the story of the foundation of the city.Tbilisians are especially fond of this legend.
The hot sulphur baths, built in the oriental style, have become one of the colorful sites of the city. In the Middle Ages these baths were ascribed many medical properties. That is why many conquerors came here allured by these baths. Thus, apart from comfort, the natural hot sulphur baths waters created many problems as well. But the baths were not the only trouble. The multicultural city lying at the crossroads of caravan routes was a sort of key to Georgia, and often to the entire Transcaucasia. This city withstood numerous invasions and occupation by the Byzantines and the Khazars, Turks and Persians.
Located on the southeastern edge of Europe, Tbilisi's proximity to lucrative east-west trade routes often made the city a point of contention between various rival empires throughout history and the city's location to this day ensures its position as an important transit route for global energy and trade projects. Tbilisi's varied history is reflected in its architecture, which is a mix of medieval and classical structures.
With 23°C of range between January and July and his winter minimum precipitation while springs receive the most, the climate of Tbilisi can be considered as a continental climate. The city's climate is influenced both by dry (Central Asian/Siberian) air masses from the east and oceanic (Atlantic/Black Sea) air masses from the west. Tbilisi experiences relatively cold winters and hot summers. Because the city is bounded on most sides by mountain ranges, the close proximity to large bodies of water (Black and Caspian Seas) and the fact that the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range (further to the north) blocks the intrusion of cold air masses from Russia, Tbilisi has a relatively mild micro-climate compared to other cities that possess a similar continental climate along the same latitudes.
The average annual temperature in Tbilisi is 12.7 °C (54.9 °F). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 0.9 °C (33.6 °F). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24.4 °C (75.9 °F). The absolute minimum recorded temperature is −24 °C (−11 °F) and the absolute maximum is 40 °C (104 °F).
The impressions received from this city have been reflected in the dairies of many a traveler, while many writers have dedicated lines of admiration to it. The Russian Alexander Pushkin, the Frenchman Alexander Dumas and the Norwegian Knut Hamsun travelled in Georgia at various times, each depicting this colorful city in his own way. Each must have found what he looked for but none stinted words of enthusiasm.
Today Tbilisi is a large cultural and economic center of not only Georgia but the whole Caucasus. According to the latest data, the number of Tbilisi population is about 1.5 million people.
The city is changing but its main charm-cultural diversity-remains the same. The real soul of this city is hidden in the small balconied courtyards of old Tbilisi, where Georgians, Armenians, Jews, Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Greeks and representatives of many other nationalities have for centuries lived as a single family, sharing one another’s problems or joys. In such old quarters one can find Georgian and Armenian orthodox churches, a synagogue, mosque and even a trace of an ancient Zoroastrian shrine.
The old town, its historical center, nestles at the foot of Mount Mtatsminda (Holy Mountain). It has retained Tbilisi’s special charm, which is distinguished by narrow streets lined with 2-3-story buildings of stone and brick adorned by exquisitely carved wooden verandas, passageways, and balconies. The buildings date back to the mid-14th-beginning of the 20th centuries.
The best thing that can happen to you in Tbilisi’s old town is to get lost. It allows you to wander through the winding streets and discover small tea houses, modern cafés, traditional bakeries turning out of their freshly baked loaves. There are also many carpet shops and bath houses in old part of Tbilisi. This is today’s Tbilisi - a city built at the crossroads of cultures, in the constant expectation of guests to share its little joys and secrets with them.
Tbilisi is a contemporary European city that takes good care of its history. Its center has been completely restored, with a solicitous effort to reproduce the architecture of the olden days. It is full of artists’ workshops, antique shops, and small inviting cafes and restaurants offering a wide range of national and European cuisine and, of course, the world famous Georgian wines.
Tbilisi (must see) sights: