Why Tbilisi is Such a Cool Place to Visit Right Now
Tbilisi is one of the most original, dynamic, and intriguing destinations to visit today.
It's the influence of different cultures, the perfect juxtaposition of traditional and modern, the most hospitable people, and the flavorful food influenced by Persians, Turks and Armenians, that makes Tbilisi and Georgia so unique and exciting.
Still not taken over by hoards of tourists, it has retained it's beautifully authentic vibe.
THE EPITOME OF EAST MEETS WEST
Once, lines of caravans were moving through Georgia, transporting silk and gold from China to Rome and Byzantium. The Great Silk Road ran through Georgia, and Arabs, Ottomans, Mongols and Russians have all left their cultural mark in this country which has adopted and adjusted just about everything from architecture to food.
You will see rugs hanging down the walls and Middle-Eastern style tiled buildings, Georgian priests striking up a conversation with tourists, the ubiquitous Ladas, and Soviet memorabilia sold at the flea markets.
THE DIVERSE ARCHITECTURAL STYLES
From traditional houses with colorful wooden balconies, shiny new high rises, Soviet-era buildings - there is a whole variety of architectural styles in Tbilisi. It was the Ottomans who first introduced the ornate latticework. Byzantines brought the brickwork, and the various religious groups built their cathedrals, synagogues, mosques and churches. You'll see Soviet housing blocks in the suburbs and a UAE company built luxury hotel in the city center.
The hospitable, friendly, genuinely kind Georgians will become your friends fast. Passionately proud of their country, they will make sure you leave their homeland with the best memories. As the Georgians say, "Guests are sent by God."
Wandering around Tbilisi's twisted streets and parks, you will see the locals and their everyday life - getting their bread from the whole-in-the wall bakeries, groups of men playing chess, vendors selling anything from homemade wine to Soviet trinkets on the streets. It's fascinating!
Sashlik (fire roasted meat), hearty lobio (bean dish served in clay pots), spicy khartcho (tomato based soup), delectable and indulgent khachapuri (cheese pastry), and sweet churchkela (walnuts dipped in grape juice and honey) - Georgian food, rich in flavor, reflects the diverse culinary influences and is yet so uniquely Georgian. You have to experience the supra (feast), a festive meal where dishes and local wine keep coming for hours.
Tbilisi's restaurant scene is vibrant and you can find anything from traditional to trendy, and from establishments with spectacular views to cozy basement eateries.
The farmers markets offer an abundance of fresh vegetables and homemade goodies.
THE CRADLE OF WINE
In Georgia, wine is not just a beverage, but a symbol of national identity. After all, its is the most ancient hub of wine making that dates back 8,000 years. You will find wine cellars and shops on nearly every street.
There are 500 different grape varieties and in addition to the traditional method, Georgians still make some wine using the old method - preparing wine in clay vessels Kveris and burying them under ground to ferment for six months. Georgian producers make surprisingly good wine and the red wines made of Saperavi grape are absolutely fabulous.
Besides the ubiquitous wine stores, homemade wine and another local specialty, homemade chacha (grape vodka), is sold in repurposed Coke bottles everywhere.
MESMERIZING GEORGIAN FOLK MUSIC
Georgia is known for its vocal a cappella polyphony, the tradition listed even by UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Traditionally, the songs are performed by men, singing at least three vocal ranges together. It is stunningly beautiful. Check out Metekhis Chrdli and the Bread House restaurants that offer music performances during dinner.
FOR THE ART AFICIONADO
Tbilisi has certainly an artsy side with numerous beautiful sculptures, art markets, galleries, and street art all around the city.
There are sculptures all around the Old Town and along Rustaveli Avenue. The art market next to the Dry Bridge flea market is definitely worth a visit.
The National Gallery proudly displays a collection of Georgian primitivist painter Niko Piroshmani's work.