Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi, თბილისი, is the capital of Georgia.  It's the country's largest city and home to around 1.5 million people.  Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century and used to be known as Tiflis.  In 1987, it became a sister city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Freedom Square, თავისუფლების მოედანი, is in the center of Tbilisi.  In Soviet times, it was called Lenin Square.  The Freedom Monument of St. George is made of granite, bronze and gold and was unveiled in 2006.  The square is also home to city hall.

The Kashveti Church of St. George, ქაშვეთის წმინდა გიორგის სახელობის ტაძარი, is a Georgian Orthodox Church.  It sits across from the Georgian Parliament building and was built from 1904 to 1910.

The Cathedral of St. George, სურფგევორქი, is a 13th century Armenian Church in Old Tbilisi.  It is the seat of the Armenian archbishop which was built in 1251.

The Tbilisi State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre was built in 1896.  It is the oldest opera house in the country and is currently undergoing renovations.

The Bridge of Peace, მშვიდობის ხიდი, is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Kura River and joins the Old Town with the newer part of the city.  It opened in 2010.

At Hero Square there is a 48 meter (147.5 feet) high glass and metal memorial.  It has the names of almost 3,500 Georgians who died fighting for independence from 1918 to those servicemen killed in the 2008 war with Russia.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral, თბილისის წმინდა სამების საკათედრო ტაძარი, is known locally as Sameba.  It is the main cathedral of the Georgian Orthodox Church.  It was built from 1995 to 2004 and is the third tallest Eastern Orthodox Cathedral in the world.

Narikala, ნარიყალა, is a 4th century fortress on a hill overlooking the city.

The Mother of Kartli, ქართლის დედა, statue was built on top of Sololaki Hill in 1958 to celebrate Tbilisi's 1500th anniversary.  The 20 meter (66 feet) aluminum statue holds a bowl of wine to greet friends and a sword to greet enemies.

Tbilisi has historically been tolerant of religious diversity.  In the old town, there is a mosque, synagogue, Armenian and Georgian Orthodox churches all within 500 meters (1,600 feet) from each other.

Norashen Holy Mother of God Church is the 15th century Armenian church in Old Tbilisi.  The church was founded in 1467.

The Great Synagogue, დიდი სინაგოგა, was built from 1895 to 1903.

Tbilisi is known for its hot sulfur baths.  The Orbeliani Baths, with its distinctive blue mosaic exterior, is one of the most famous bath houses.  Unfortunately, it is currently closed for renovations.

 The Tbilisi Concert Hall seats 2,000 people.  It opened in 1971.

The Museum of the Soviet Occupation, საბჭოთა ოკუპაციის მუზეუმი, was established in 2006 as a permanent exhibit of the Georgian National Museum.  It chronicles the 70 years of Soviet rule in Georgia from 1921 to 1991. 

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