In 2008 Tbilisi celebrated its 1550-year-old anniversary. It means that the history of this amazing city throws back as far as the 5th century when the Georgian tsar Vakhtang Gorgasali ordered to build a city in the centre of the fertile valley cozily lying between two Caucasian ridges. The city's name was not incidental. It originated from the word "tbili" - warm. In fact the plain between Mount Sololaki and Metekhi cliff, where the city is situated, is rich in warm sulfuric springs. There is a beautiful legend connected with the city's beginning. It runs that Vakhtang Gorgasali and his train hunted in dense woods. Suddenly they saw a pheasant. The tsar sent his falcon to catch it, but both birds disappeared. After a long quest the birds were found boiled in a hot spring gushing from under the ground. Dumbfounded Vakhtang ordered to build a city on this very site - on the right bank of the river Kura (Mtkvari).
However, some historians assert that before Gorgasali on the place of Tbilisi there stood a fortified city where the country's capital was transferred from ancient Mtskheta in the 4th century. Whatever it was, in the Middle Ages Tbilisi (formerly Tiflis) was well-known both in the east and in the west because Georgia became the center of commerce standing on the crossroads leading to Arabian countries, to Russia, to Byzantium, and India. The craftsmen of Tbilisi had a reputation as the most skilful ones who especially succeeded in weapon and jeweler business.
It was back then that the known aphorism was born: "the Key to the Caucasus is in Tbilisi". However, such advantageous position became the reason of continual wars: Tbilisi was burnt and destroyed dozens of times, but each time it rose from the ashes.
In the Middle Ages Tbilisi was a prosperous city. It was a home of remarkable poets such as the genius Shota Rustaveli and many others. Foreign poets were also inspired by this wonderful city. Pushkin who was deeply impressed by cordial reception he experienced in Tbilisi named the city the "Fabulous Land". There Lermontov wrote his well-known 'Mtsyri", Griboedov - "Wit Works Woe", Tolstoy - "Childhood", Gorky - "Makar Chudra" etc. All this is explained by the city's poetic spirit and the unique aura.
The combination of original architecture and natural beauty gives it inimitable charm and color. Tbilisi stretches in a narrow strip on both banks of the Kura. Its narrow curved streets run up the slopes and round the mountains ridges. The houses matching the relief are located on the slopes of the mountains arranged in terraces one above another closely adjoining each other. If you look at the city from Mount Mtsatminda you will clearly see them climbing the slopes of the hills on the both banks and cluster near the rocky precipices.
Since the early 19th century the central part of modern Tbilisi arranged in rectangular blocks- the New City - has significantly grown. The modern city harmoniously combines antique and contemporary features: the temples of the 6th - 7th stand near modern high-rise buildings, wide avenues, gardens, boulevards; magnificent bridges connect the right and the left banks of the rapid Kura.
But the soul of Tbilisi still dwells in the Old town. The quiet winding sunny streets, to terraces of the houses wreathed with vines, ancient churches with tiled domes, the ruins of old monasteries, traditional Georgian yards with intricate carved porches are simply irresistible. A part of your soul will stay forever in this charming nook in exchange for a little piece of Tbilisi which you going to take with you...



Formerly it was the ancient capital of Colchis and Imeretia kingdoms. Today it is the second largest and significant city in Georgia. Kutaisi is located in the Rioni river valley on Colchis lowland. The river Rioni is mentioned in the myths of the Golden Fleece for a reason: local residents used to extract gold there. They put their sheep skins across the flow and waited for a few hours and then combed out gold dust from them. The symbol of a sheep skin covered with gold was later named the Golden Fleece.
This rich fertile river valley sated with cold springs, and magnificent green woods became the centre of the ancient Colchis kingdom with Kutaisi as its capital (from the 780s). From the end of the 10th century until the time when Tiflis was free from Seljuks Kutaisi was the capital of the united Georgian kingdom and for about 150 years carried out this honorable mission. In the end of the 15th century Imeretian area was singled out from Georgian state as independent Imeretia kingdom with the capital in Kutaisi. In the 17th century it conquered by Turks, in the 18th century it was set free by Russian armies. And in 1810 Imeretian kingdom was a part of Russian empire as Imeretian area.
In the beginning of the 20th century it was a silent provincial little town. For the years of the Soviet power Kutaisi turned into a large industrial centre of the republic.
Today there is practically no industry there but Kutaisi remains still the second important city of the country - the regional center of Imeretia with about 200 thousand inhabitants. The city has managed to save the outlines of medieval architecture and buildings as well as winding streets and lanes. The city stretches on both banks of the Rioni which is decorated with the bridges unique in their structures and beauty. They distinguish Kutaisi due to their originality and dissimilarity from other cities.
The old right-bank part of the city is the more interesting. There you will find 1-2-storey houses with hanging glazed verandahs standing above one another on the steep slopes buried in verdure. Nearby there are tremendous medieval temples: Gelati, in which David the Builder was buried, dilapidated but nevertheless working Bagrati Temple. These temples are protected as objects of the World Legacy by UNESCO.



Rustavi is one of the youngest cities of Georgia. The official year of Rustavi.'s birth is 1948 when it received the city status. Before that in Gabardan steppe on the bank of the Kura river there was a settlement which emerged there due to the fact of construction of large metallurgical plant (1941. In days of the Soviet epoch Rustavi was the largest center of heavy industry, chemistry and machine-building.
Today Rustavi is the fourth largest city in Georgia. A number of industrial enterprises is still active there. Its central streets are very busy thanks to the variety of shops, restaurants and cafes. Rustavi is very green, light and cozy. It consists of the left-bank and the right-bank parts divided by the wide Kura river. On the left bank there was an ancient city of Bostan-Kalaki. The excavations exposed the remains of walls and buildings foundations. In the 4th - the 5th centuries AD the fortress, the temple and the irrigation canal fed from the Kura were built on the site of the city. In the 12th -the 13th centuries the city prospered. Later it suffered from the devastating attacks of Mongols and actually ceased to exist.



The sunny Batumi personifies all the charm of a southern city and a sea resort. It is located on the Black Sea coast and is exquisitely framed by exotic subtropical flora. Palm trees, cypresses, magnolias, oleanders, bamboo trees, laurels, lemon and orange trees, thuyas and box trees spread their sweet fragrance literally everywhere. Batumi is located in a convenient natural Black Sea bay and is an important seaport for entire Georgia. The romantic picture of ships departure from the harbor is better seen from Batumi Quay. Batumi citizens name this place Seaside Park-Boulevard. It surrounds the city along its sea border for 2 km and is at all times very crowded. This is the most popular place for both locals and visitors of the capital. There stands the city symbol - the Dolphin with a palm branch. Dolphins frolicking in Batumi harbor all year round, have become the integral a part the resort image.
The city beach is next to the Boulevard. The beaches in Batumi and its vicinities are stony without sand. To the east from the beach there are theatres, cinemas, restaurants and other entertainments. The residential quarters of Batumi are seen from afar due to their rainbow coloring. The matter is that each house there is painted with certain color.
The Old part of the city is especially interesting. It is 150 years old. There reins the spirit of past centuries - rows of small shops of handicraftsmen making copper ware, magnificent aroma of freshly brewed coffee in small cafes. The old city is known for the variety architectural subtleties: buildings are decorated with chimeras, mermaids, atlantes and other mythical creatures.
The architecture of Batumi is distinguished by the combination of European and Asian styles, the variety of architectural forms. It is possible to see buildings with elements of Georgian, Turkish, Imperial Russian, Soviet, English, French and colonial architectures; the buildings combining European and Oriental architecture. The lights of the evening city are especially beautiful. Modest in the afternoon the buildings turn into palaces by night.
Contemporary Batumi is changing. New buildings of banks, hotels, tourist and sports complexes are under construction; the residential houses being erected conform to world standards. The luxurious trading centre with pools, yacht-club and amusements for children is being built. In the long term the entire historical part of the city will turn to the area of boutiques, bars, tea and coffee houses. However, Batumi will remain the city where European and Asian cultures meet. Such cultural mix is justified by historic facts. Let us make small excursion into the city's past. ...the first mentioning of Batumi belongs to a Greek philosopher Aristotle and can be related to the 4th century BC. He described the city calling it Batus (from Greek "deep"), located on the Black Sea coast in Colchis. The ancient fortress of Tamaris-tsihe served as the basis for the city. In the 2 nd century AD Romans come to Batumi. In the 5th century Georgian tsar Vakhtang Gorgasali annexed the city to his domain. In the 6th, the 7th and the 8th centuries Batumi and its area was governed by Egriss and Abkhazian princes. In the 17th century Batumi was captured by Turkey. And Turkey's defeat in Russian-Turkish war of 1878 the city was taken by Russians. In the same year the Berlin Congress declared Batumi a large commercial port which was used by Russia for oil trading. This status lasted for 8 years and brought the country certain benefits. It did not take long for Batumi to become the third largest city in Transcaucasia and the third most significant port in Russian Empire. By the end of the 20th century Batumi became a major industrial center and later a famous resort.



Poti is a port city in Georgia, located on the eastern Black Sea coast in the region of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti in the west of the country. The city was known as Phasis in the 5th cent. B.C., when it was a Greek colony. It later became a Turkish fortress and was taken by the Russians in 1828. Poti has become a major port city and industrial center since the early 20th century. It is also home to a main naval base and the headquarters of the Georgian navy. The Poti port area is planned to become a free economic zone within the framework of a Georgian-United Arab Emirates project inaugurated in April 2008.
Besides being well-suited to serve destinations in Georgia, Poti has serviceable road and rail links with Armenia and Azerbaijan, and is connected by sea with a growing list of major Black Sea ports. Regular passenger and cargo ferry service opened to Ilichevsk in Ukraine in December 1996. This route joins existing service to Burgas and Varna, Bulgaria, and Konstanza, Romania. Another container route to Istanbul is planned.
Poti itself is a small city with a population of only 51,000. Local industries include a meat processing plant, a shipyard, and some light manufacturing. The city's geographic location and its port, however, are what makes it a commercially important location.
Poti is located on a plain at the mouth of the valley created by the Higher and Lesser Caucasus Mountain ranges. The route through this valley, called the Euro-Asian Transport Corridor by the Georgian Government, provides the Caucasus' principal road and rail links from the Black Sea to the Caspian via Tbilisi. Highways and railway lines running southeast from Poti connect it with Armenia. Modernization of the road from Poti to the "Red Bridge" on the Azerbaijan border is a high priority infrastructure project for the Government of Georgia.
Poti's development potential, especially for infrastructure projects, has already begun to attract foreign companies. Sea-Land Services of the United States uses Poti as a key transshipment point for cargos from as far away as Central Asia. Sea-Land is also studying the modernization of piers and other port facilities.



Gori is located on the confluence of the Kura and the Liakhi in the picturesque Kartli valley. From the south and the west the city is surrounded by scenic mountains. Even though the city was first mentioned in the 6 th century, the city is best known as the birthplace of Joseph Dzhugashvili better known as "the Father of the peoples", or "comrade Stalin" who ruled the Soviet Empire from 1925 to 1953. By the way, the countrymen of the great dictator esteem and respect him. Even the town's main street is named in his honor - Stalin Prospect. The major places of interest of this small town are Stalin's Museum built in the form of a marble sarcophagus and the huge bronze sculpture of Stalin, one of a few left in the entire world (the Gori central square). Although Gori citizens are so anxious in preserving the memories of Stalin, the dictator himself hated both remembering his childhood and visiting Gori.
Among the historical landmarks are the ruins of Goristsikhe fortress located on a hill in the center of the town. In Gori vicinities the most interesting is Uplistsikhe cave city.



Located on the Colchid lowland 30 km from the Black Sea near the border with Abkhazia, Zugdidi is one of the five largest cities of Georgia. Its population is over 70,000. The city is rather young (1918) although it is situated in the western part of Georgia, in Colchis whose history is very ancient. Therefore there is a great number of interesting ancient monuments in the vicinities of Zugdidi.
Zugdidi is the regional centre of two united historical areas of Georgia - Mingrelia and Svanetia. From there you can take a trip to Svanetia - the most original area of Georgia known for its ancient watchtowers and ethnic settlements of Mestia and Ushguli.
The city itself has only few places of interest. One of them is the Palace of Didiani, who were Mingrelia princes, with a huge garden dated the 19th century.
Zugdidi has a drama theater, a historical-ethnographic museum, and a 16th-century church.



Telavi is located in the heart of Kakheti, the historical area of eastern Georgia, in the valleys of the rivers Iori and Alazani. A trip to Telavi is an excursion around a surprisingly beautiful region to the world of ancient temples and monasteries, picturesque rivers and valleys where amber grapes grow under the warm sun rays. Telavi is not only the region centre. It is the centre of Georgian winemaking which is a cult there. Telavi is located in the most beautiful Alazani valley on the slope of Tsivi-Gombor ridge. The city is situated at 490 m above the sea level so the air there is fresh and pure. The landscapes of Telavi and its vicinities are very impressive. You will enjoy the green river valleys, the slopes of the mountains of the Major Caucasus with its peaks and wood-grown slopes and Alpine meadows. Winters in Kakheti are cold; summers are dry and hot.
As a contemporary city Telavi was born in 1801. But its history goes back as deep as the roots of centuries-old elms. By the way, these trees (in Georgian "tela") which are abundant there gave the city its name, according to many historians.
Telavi is the most ancient city of Georgia along with Tbilisi, Mtskheta and Kutaisi. It has been known since the 1st - 2nd centuries AD and for a long time was an important trading centre on the caravan route from Near East to Europe. The history of Telavi is closely connected with Kakheti's history since it was always a part of it. The independent history of Kakheti began in the 7th century when it separated to become an independent feudal princedom. In the 12th century Kakheti was a part of united Georgia under David the Builder, and Telavi became one of the major cities of Georgia with well-developed trade and crafts. From the second half of the 13th century after Mongolian invasion Telavi lost its significance.
In the 2nd half of the 15th century Kakheti was an independent kingdom which continually struggled for independence with Iran and Turkey in the 16th - 18th centuries. In the 17th century Telavi started to prosper again: Kahetian tsar Archil II transferred his residence from Gremi to Telavi. In 1762 Kartli and Kakheti formed a united kingdom which in 1801 was attached to Russia. Within Russian empire the city was called Telav; first it was a part of Georgian-Imeretian province, and afterwards - Tiflis province.
Today Telavi is a big modern city with the population of more than 20,000. When tourists come there they love the possibility to experience ancient traditions of winemaking kept in Kakheti from time immemorial. Kahetian wines are known all over the world. There about 70 various wines are made. The most known are Kindzmarauli, Saperavi, Tsinandali, Akhasheni.
In terms of history the city and its vicinities are incredibly interesting. A lot of important cultural monuments of the city have survived up to now. Alaverdi temple, Ikalto monastery, Shuamta monastic complex, Bodbe cult complex are among them.

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