(Tiflis, before 1936), the capital of Georgia, is situated on the
Kura (Mtkvari) River at the southern end of the Georgian Military Road. Located in
a mountain-ringed basin, Tbilisi is the economic, administrative, and
cultural heartland of Georgia. Its territory reaches more than 350 sq.
kilometers, population - almost 1,5 millions.
The city rises in terraces from both banks of the Kura. In the old section are
medieval buildings and courtyards, narrow streets, overhanging balconies, and
the famous hot sulfur springs. The rest of the city has been extensively
modernized. The new
residential districts are connected with the city center and one another
by the underground
(opened in 1966), bus, trolleybus routes and
tramlines (click here to see the map
of the city).
Landmarks include the Sameba Cathedral (modern), the Zion Cathedral (6th cent.; restored in 16th18th cent.), the
Anchiskhati Basilica (6th7th cent.), the Metekhi
church (127889) and Tbilisi Fortress (4th-18th cent.). A funicular railway runs
to Mt. David. Tbilisi's main educational and cultural facilities include the
Tbilisi State University (1918), the Georgian Academy of Art (1922), and the
Academy of Science (1941).
The National Museum of Georgia was founded in 1923 on the basis of the former
Caucasian Museum existed
since 1852. The museum has rich collection of archeological finds of the
early Stone Age and the Bronze Age, and the period of the Georgian slave-owning
states, which were discovered in various corners of Georgia. The treasury of
Georgian kingdom is shared between The National Museum and the State Art Museum of Georgia,
which was founded as National Paintings Gallery in 1920. The State Art Museum
owns some 60,000 objects, dating from the 4th century until today.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the site was settled as early as the 4th
cent. but according to the legend, Tbilisi was founded in 453 A.D. by the King
Vakhtang Gorgasali. The legend says:
...In the impenetrable forests that once covered
the slopes of the Kura valley, Vakhtang Gorgasali, King of East Georgian
kingdom-Kartli (Iberia), was hunting a pheasant with a hawk. When he galloped
up to retrieve the bird, he saw that it had fallen into a warm spring. Amazed by
the discovery, he announced that he would found a city there to be called
Tbilisi ("tbili" in Georgian means "warm") and move his
capital from Mtskheta