Did you know that the Georgian capital Tbilisi gained its name from the word tpili, which means warm? Legend has it that the ancient city emerged around a hot thermal spring. King Vakhtang I of Iberia discovered it after his injured falcon fell into it.
From the 5th century onward, the area between the Mtkvari River and the Narikala Fortress has embraced a natural, architectural, and even social wonder - the Abanotubani bath district.
Visit The Dimitri Shevardnadze National Gallery Tbilisi
Go see the amazing paintings of Niko Pirosmanashvili, the famous Georgian primitives painter. The exhibition features around 30 works of art by him, including the famous Actress Margarita. Legend says that the painter fell in love with a French actress known by the name of Margarita. He spent all his money buying her a sea of roses.
Alongside Pirosmanashvili, there’s also artwork by other noteworthy Georgian artists of the 20th century, such as David Kakabadze, Lado Gudiashvili, and sculptor Iakob Nikoladze.
Visit The Holy Trinity Cathedral Tbilisi
The Sameba or Holy Trinity Cathedral, a symbol of modern-day Tbilisi, also merits a visit. Located on Mount Elijah, it's visible from almost any point in the city.It appears to be almost magical when lit up at night.
Begun in 1995, its construction finished in 2004. As the largest religious edifice in the southern Caucasus, the cathedral houses 440 ornaments that span various styles. The interior, filled with light, is awesome in its vastness.
Visit The Museum of Fine Arts Tbilisi
To get an overview of Georgian history, visit the Museum of Fine Arts named after Shalva Amiranishvali. With 140,000 works, this is the most remarkable collection of Georgian art on Earth and includes works from Russia, Western Europe and the East.
The most valuable objects are items made by goldsmiths from the 8th to the 19th centuries. Besides, the Zarzma monastery icon and other religious objects are important symbols of Georgian culture.
Visit The Holy Mother of God Church of Bethlehem Tbilisi
With its garden and historical monuments, this church (also known as the Upper Bethlehem Church) is a point of pride for me and not a place for solitude.
Located on the upper slope of the city’s historic Kala district, nobody believes it’s so beautiful until they come up here and see it for themselves.
The churchyard is neither too high nor too low to show the real beauty and modern ugliness of the city. It’s kind of a touristy place, but few people are aware of it.
Soak in Sulfur in Abanotubani Baths in Tbilisi
For Tbilisians, bathing culture is part of a well-preserved history and a pleasant routine as well.
Embraced by the Mtkvari River and the Narikala fortress, the picturesque Abanotubani bath district forms a significant part of Old Tbilisi and centers around the sulfur bathhouses and a bath ritual that dates back to the 5th century. This is a natural, architectural, and even social wonder.
The first thing you’ll notice in this area is the distinctive smell of sulfur. The water comes from nearby springs and is pleasantly warm, especially on colder autumn days – about 40°–50°C. The waters are tamed by professional scrubbing and massage masters. Moreover, these water rituals help to ease skin, joint, and even digestive ailments.
In all, there are about ten underground baths here whose protruding cupolas serve as a playground for local children. The comfort and price levels vary from the most simple, public baths to larger and more luxurious private facilities. The oldest one, Bathhouse No. 5, has served as a public bath for three centuries and is the perfect place to experience spa rituals as the locals do.
One above ground bath stands out among the others and is visible from a distance. Fresh from a recent renovation, the blue-tiled Orbeliani Bath pays homage to the classic Middle Eastern architecture of Samarkand.
It strikes the imagination with a colorful mosaic facade and side minarets. The facility offers a wide range of spa procedures, including a -25°C snow room and 12 relaxation rooms, each with a different design and capacity.
Enjoy A Drink Or A Night At Hotel Stamba Tbilisi
Like the summer heat, the urban melodies of this vibrant capital are sometimes overwhelming. So at one point or another you might feel like seeking out some shelter. Located inside a 100-year-old printing house, Hotel Stamba stands at the intersection of three streets in Tbilisi’s bohemian center.
Step inside the loft-like lobby overlooking a 5-story atrium full of verdant plants and trees, and you’ll think there’s no better place to be in the world.
The eye-catching mix of shabby-industrial design and Art Deco glamour is just the beginning. Have a refreshing drink at the lobby’s round pink bar and continue on to the inner courtyard to experience another kind of city break.
One part of the courtyard serves as an outdoor terrace for the café. A few steps further, a beamed passageway leads to a small square and a wooden-stepped amphitheatre that reminds visitors of the hotel’s commitment to Georgian culture and art. This is now a top spot for events such as public talks and small concerts. At the center of this improvised square stands a curious artifact: a voltage tower, albeit a decorative one, dating back to the 1970's.
Did I mention that many plants and trees adorn the whole area ? Palms, decorative pines, wild grapes, and even bamboo? Around the perimeter of the courtyard is a multi-room lounge bar, designed to maintain a high level of rest and relaxation late into the night.
Adjoined halls also host co-working spots, spaces for artists-in-residence, collaborating studios, exhibition rooms, and the new Photo and Multimedia Museum that aims to expand the frontiers of local artists beyond the country’s borders. Stamba holds another trump card in its pocket: a glass-bottomed rooftop pool perched over the hotel’s central atrium.
Visit The Tbilisi Open-Air Museum of Ethnography
A must-see destination is the Open-Air Museum of Ethnography.It features traditional rural buildings and many artifacts from all regions of Georgia. The museum occupies a vast area, 72 hectares in all.
Be sure to ask for a guide and don’t be shy to ask lots of questions. The time that you spend here will enrich you with a deeper understanding of Georgia’s ethnology-geography.
End your visit at the museum’s Rachis Ubani restaurant. They have delicious food and a beautiful view from the terrace. The museum spreads over a hill at Turtle Lake, and the best way to get there is by taxi.