Mtatsminda neighborhood is one of the oldest parts of Tbilisi. Rich with history and ancient past, the neighborhood has been inspiration for many poets and artists. Old-world charm of the city’s main attractions blends with contemporary lifestyle and makes Mtatsminda one of the most desired places to live.
Mtatsminda is located on a plateau on the south-west of the city. The iconic attraction of this neighborhood is the mount Mtatsminda.
Mtatsminda literally means Holy Mountain and takes its name from the 6th Century. According to the legend the first “resident” of Mtatsminda used to be Saint David Garejeli. Later in 1857 church “Mama Daviti” was built under his name. The Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures is located in the churchyard of “Mama Daviti”.
Mtatsminda Park AKA Bombora Park is the highest amusement park in the city. It is located on the top of Mtatsminda Mountain. It truly is one of the favorite and popular getaways for all kind of generations. European standard attractions, beautiful landscape, variety of affordable cafes and restaurants welcome their guests all year round. “Just Married” couples are spotted quite often as well, as Mtatsminda Park also hosts wedding ceremonies in a wedding chapel. Breathtaking views are provided from 80m-high Ferris Wheel. The highest 275m-high TV Mast (TV Tower) overlooks Tbilisi with a pride. Despite counting several decades Tbilisi TV Mast still remains one of the city’s icon and is visible from almost each part of the city. Bombora Park offers generous parking places for its visitors.
Tbilisi Funicular - a railway road is the honorable historical monument constructed in 1904. It connects city to Mtatsminda Park. The newly open Tbilisi Funicular operates from Chonkadze street. Tbilisi funicular was designed by French engineer A. Blanch and was elaborated by many famous European and Georgian engineers and architects of that period, working on the project ‘“European Tbilisi”.
Other way to reach Bombora Park is the main road heading from Freedom Square up on the hill. It only takes 10-15 minutes ride. Public transportation also runs from Freedom Square. On the way to Mtatsminda Park many restaurants attract visitors. These eateries are great places to escape the capital, especially in a hot summer evenings, to enjoy delicious Georgian traditional food, panoramic views of sparkling city and a soft summer breeze.
Freedom Square AKA Liberty Square is considered to be the geographical heart of Tbilisi. In 1829 the place was first named Pashkevich-Erevanski Square, but later has changed its name for few times. In Soviet Era square was known as Lenin Square.
A tall column with a monument honoring St. George arises from the middle of the Square. Freedom Square/Liberty Square is often used for a wide range of activities including New Year open air concerts and political demonstrations. The place is surrounded with mix of many well preserved heritage buildings and impressive new constructions. Tbilisi Courtyard Marriott, GMC Plaza and Bank Republic are situated on the west side of the Square. Clock towered Tbilisi City Assembly building constructed in 1830, but later reconstructed by the famous architect Paul Stern, is the main venue of the square. Fashionable top-notch boutiques of Burberry and Chopard are on its ground floor. The freedom square is very impressive during the New Year time, St.George’s Column as well as surrounding buildings are adorned with Christmas decorations.
Pushkin Square is set at the north side of Freedom Square. Lovely fountain lit up with different colors in the evening brings a special charm to it. Freedom Square is bounded by Pushkin st, Leonidze St, Leselidze St, Dadiani St, Tabidze St and Rustaveli Avenue.
Pushkini street is located right on the east side of Freedom Square. Beautiful facade buildings are set side by side on the row. One of them is a Bank of Georgia, famous with its impressive foyer. National Museum of Fine Arts . Large sidewalk of the street and comfortable benches let you to loose and enjoy recently discovered ancient part of Narikala Fortress, free Wi-Fi “Tbilisi Loves You” is an added bonus in the territory.
Tabidze and Dadiani streets are very vibrant pedestrian streets full of trendy shops and nightlife. People’s plays live music, Piano boasts with sophisticated interior design and Italian kitchen, Kalina serves delicious Slavic food, Downtown is great place for coffee lovers.
Leonidze street goes up from Freedom Square. National Bank of Georgia housing Money Museum is located at the beginning of the street. The building was constructed in 1913. It was party damaged in 1991 but was restored later.
Rustaveli Avenue is the cultural epicenter of the capital. Formerly known Golovin Avenue, in 1918 was named in honor of the world famous Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli. It runs from Freedom Square to Rose Revolution Square. A distinctive Soviet architecture blends with Baroque, Renaissance and Moorish style monuments and brings a special charm to the Avenue. It counts numerous exclusive shops (Cartier, Swarovski, Burberry) and banks, residential/office spaces, theaters, elegant bars and restaurants.
Rustaveli Avenue evening stroll Live Jam Sessions are held at Zazzanova, delicious coffee is served at Prospero's book shop and appetizing lunch is at French bakery Entree. If you crave for Oriental cuisine, stop into “New Asia” Chinese restaurant with some Asian splash.
The National Museum of Georgia Simon Janashia covers the first block on Rustaveli Avenue. It is one of the largest historical museum in Georgia. It reserves rich and diverse exponents from Stone Age till Soviet Occupation. Cinema Rustaveli is set on the right side of the National Museum.
Tbilisi National Youth Palace is situated right opposite to the cinema Rustaveli. The Youth Palace represents one of the remarkable landmarks of the country and has a very interesting history. read more The first Independent Act of the first government of independent Georgia was signed in the palace. Palace was built in 1802, but later reconstructed by Otto Simenson in 1865. The facade and a back yard stairs are designed in Renaissance style while the interior and the mirror hall is in Moorish style. After exploring Tbilisi, stop into the recently open landscaped garden of the Youth Palace, which has been closed to public for over the century.
Building of the Parliament of Georgia is situated right next to the Youth Palace. This magnificent architectural monument had replaced the military church, which has been demolished by the Soviet rule. The construction of the Parliament building started in 1938 and finished in 1965. It was designed by Georgian architect Lezhava and Nasaridze and also many German military prisoners elaborated in this construction. The Parliament Building and its surroundings have witnessed the major events of the history. Memorial monument of victims of April events (held in 1989, when Soviet army attacked the peaceful demonstration and caused death and injuries) is right in front of the Parliament Building. The main Christmas tree and Christmas decorations are lit up during the New Year holidays right in front of the Parliament building.
Tbilisi Classic Gymnasium is situated on the right side of the Parliament building. It was built in 1833 and later reconstructed by Otto Simenson. Many famous public figures were graduated from the Tbilisi Classic Gymnasium. The monument of Akaki Tsereteli and Ilia Chavchavadze rests at the entrance of the building.
Kashveti Church ( Kvashveti Church ) is located opposite side of Tbilisi Classic Gymnasium. The current facade was designed by Leopold Bielfeldt according to the style of the medieval Samtavisi Cathedral. Kashveti church was reconstructed in 1910. It is one the remarkable landmarks of Tbilisi, based on its frescoes and ornamented facade contributed by N.Agladze and world famous Georgian artist Lado Gudiashvili.
National Picture Gallery AKA Blue Gallery built in Barocco style is situated next to Kashveti Church. In 1890 it was constructed according to German architect, Albert Zaltman’s project, called “Temple of Glory”. The building facade rich with Barocco style elements is a prototype of exhibition hall of P.Piacentini in Rome. Recently rehabilitated European standard exposition hall hosts national and international artists’ exhibitions. The back facade of the gallery faces 9th April Park, it was previously known as Alexandre’s Garden.
9th April Park AKA Alexandre’s Garden stretches from Rustaveli Avenue till Atoneli street. It is divided in two parts. The Park was designed by Otto Simenson in 1914 and was the first public park for that time. It’s beautiful landscape with high standard environment makes the park atmospheric place to relax. Many monuments of public figures can be spotted in the territory.
Marriott Tbilisi Hotel building represents one of the main pride of the country. This immaculate heritage building built in 1915 was called “Hotel Majestic”. In 1916, the project of the hotel won the gold medal at the international exhibition in Paris. The building facade is designed in Baroque and Renaissance style and smoothly curves from Rustaveli Avenue to the left side on Chanturia Street.
Shota Rustaveli State Academic Theatre borders Marriott Tbilisi Hotel. This graceful building designed by Alexandre Shimkevich (Alexander Szymkiewicz) was built in 1901 for the “Artist Society”. In 1921 it was named after Shota Rustaveli theater. Dramatic facade and interior of the theatre involves Baroque and Rococo architectural style, including marble column terrace, large portal, mirror windows and ornaments, marble staircase and remarkable foyer adorned with frescoes painted by Lado Gudiashvili.
Tbilisi Opera and Ballet Theater is one the significant cultural venues of Georgia. Stunning image of the building was designed by Antonio Scudieri and Victor Schreter. Open in 1851, the Opera theater has hosted many world famous national and international artists, including Nodar Andguladze, Paata Burchuladze, Vakhtang Chabukiani, Montserrat Caballe and Jose Carreras. In 1937 Tbilisi Opera theater was named after Zakaria Paliashvili. Distinctive entrance arch and balcony, ornaments, striped facade, building towers, vitrage windows, paintings, beautiful chandeliers and mirror hall is tastefully designed in Moorish style. Sculptures of Zakaria Paliashvili, Akaki Tsereteli and George Balanchine are situated in the garden of the Opera theater.
Museum Of Modern Art Tbilisi (MOMA Tbilisi) is located on the right side of Tbilisi Opera theater. The museum often displays expositions of international and national modern artists.
Right next to the Moma Tbilisi, massive building with handsome visual will house Kempinski Hotel.
Radisson Blu Iveria is the glazed hotel building located on the Rose Revolution Square.
The hotel boasts with the state-of-the-art environment. Casino Iveria and a famous Anne Semonin SPA of the hotel, are the most visited places by tourists as well as wealthy locals.
The monumental building of the Academy of Science of Georgia covers the last block of Rustaveli Avenue. This handsome building with Italian style tower was designed by Georgian architects. The building was constructed in 1946 and represents Soviet style architecture. This landmark impresses visitors with it’s golden appearance, open arches and the long stairs full of handmade souvenirs. It also houses the Cinema House of Tbilisi “Kolga” (umbrella) which presents movies in their original language.
The last block of Rustaveli Avenue is also called Zemeli. There used to be a huge drugstore which belonged to a German chemist Zemel. The drugstore had been replaced by the beautiful building, so called Melik Azariants House (Kazaryants house). This landmark was constructed in early 20th century by the Architect Nikoloz Obolonsky for the Armenian merchant Melik Azariants. Attractive facade and distinctive domes of the building represents art-nouveau monument of the city.
Shota Rustaveli monument situated in the Rustaveli square is the main pride of the Avenue. The monument is dedicated to the great Georgian poet and author of the world famous poem,The Knight in Panther’s skin. The beautiful fountain ornamented with lion-heads compliments Rustaveli square.
The modern Mcdonald’s building is tastefully evolved into surrounding landmarks.
Do not miss a chance and take a train from Rustaveli Underground station to the Freedom/Liberty Square station. These underground stations are very distinctive soviet era monuments, tiled with white and red marble.
Mtatsminda neighborhood houses the most key governmental institutions, including : Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, the State Chancellery of the Government of Georgia, Embassy of Poland, Embassy of Italy and etc.
Mtatsminda Neighborhood is a home to many heritage residential and public landmark buildings. Most of them were designed by Polish architect, Alexander Shimkevich (Alexander Szymkiewicz), who used to be a Tbilisi’s municipal architect. His works involve mostly Baroque and Renaissance style residential and public structures. The building of Supreme Court of Georgia and Tbilisi State Conservatory are among them.
Other honorable well preserved landmarks are: the buildings of the National Library and the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts .
There are still more to explore in Mtatsminda. The famous Flea Market, also known as Dry Bridge Market, is a daily open-air place to buy antiques, jeweler and local artists’ paintings and souvenirs. Lacy balconies and forged gates of the buildings are the main distinctive accessories of the neighborhood. Most of them are well preserved homes of actors, poets, artists and public figures of past and present time.
Mtatsminda district boasts with much innovative architecture. The glass business center and residence, overlooking Freedom Square, represents the 21st Century architecture. It was designed by the world famous Japanese futuristic architect Shin Takamatsu. The other representative of the 21st Century is the glazed building; Tbilisi Public Service Hall (aka Justice House) designed by the famous Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas. Tbilisi Public Service Hall houses the National Bank of Georgia, Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Georgia, and the Civil and National Registry.
Some newly constructed A-class residential and office buildings are presented in Mtatsminda area. Besiki 4 Business Center, Opera Residence, 7Sky and Rustaveli Residence (opening soon) offer variety of luxury apartments and offices for rent or sale. see apartments. Most apartments feature panoramic views over the city and state-of-the-art finishes.
The best selection of attractions and sightseeing, luxury hotels, affordable guesthouses and variety of daily apartments make Mtatsminda the most visited and desired area for tourists. Fine dining destinations, upscale bars and terrific nightlife contributes the neighborhood. Top-notch stores and beloved brand boutiques make the area popular place to shop. Famous art galleries, numerous museums and theaters compliment the neighborhood. Impressive heritage residences, contemporary style apartments, green spaces, variety of supermarkets and easy access to transportation helps Mtatsminda district to maintain a self-contained neighborhood.
Vake is the poshest central neighborhood, home to many expatriates and nouveaux riches. Lots of newly constructed residential buildings and luxury apartments are concentrated in this area. Vake, meaning flat area in translation, has become a part of Tbilisi in 19th century.
The part of main artery of the city, Chavchavadze avenue runs along the entire neighborhood from East to West for about 3kms (5 min driving) with lots of brand shops, elegant bars and top-notch cafes. Among them are Safilo, Mango, Bata, Geox, Ecco, Accessorize, cafe Angelato, Roberto Bravo, etc. The avenue is home to many wealthy and famous residents. There are lots of luxury apartments for rent.
Striking visual landmark, Pixel Center is located on Chavchavadze avenue, with Goodwill hypermarket in the basement, British brand Next on the ground floor, Spanish Pronovias on the second floor, and lots of other brand stores inside. Beautiful Mziuri Park entrance is in the middle of Chavchavadze avenue.
Atmospheric newly opened shopping center, Chavchavadze 33, is also located on the main avenue, with brand shops (Okaidi, Geox, Ecco, Piazza Italia, Alcott, Parfois, Sketchers, etc), Georgian restaurant Tabla, French cafe La France, Italian steak house Pomodorissimo and lots of parking places at your convenience.
The crown jewel of the Vake neighborhood, green Vake Park, is located at the Western end of the neighborhood. The park is spread on the natural amphitheatre, surrounded by the heights from three sides. The area covers more than 200 hectares and represents the city’s huge green massive with thousands of leafy, coniferous and fruit trees. The park is a favorite place for the families with kids.
A state-of-the-art public library Mediathek has been opened recently in the park. It features adults’ and children’ reading halls, bookstore and souvenir shop inside. When looking at books and bookshelves, you have a feeling that they are right in the nature and not in the building. There are some hammocks outside the building to enjoy reading under the blue sky.
A newly constructed residential building, so called Wissol tower (building link) is located at the entrance of Vake park. The building has luxury lobby and the exclusive units have been sold for high prices, all the rental apartments are extremely demanded by apartment hunters. Liberty tower with glass facade is also located next to Vake park on Chavchavadze avenue and is considered as one of the landmarks of the neighborhood.
A private French School of Caucasus with kindergarten, primary and secondary school was opened in Vake park in 2010. The school offers a curriculum program consistent with Ministry of Education French, and welcomes French and non-French speaking children alike.
Parallel to Chavchavadze avenue is a popular Abashidze street, with its French cafes, coffee shops, Japanese, Thai, Italian restaurants, night bars, flower shops and beauty salons. Among them are JNBY, MISSONI, Fiori, Coffee.ge, Sakura, Thai, Antree. Abashidze is also very convenient with side parking. Expatriates just love to live on this trendy street. The famous landmark of Vake, Round Garden with its Little Prince sculpture, is located on Abashidze street, just in front of UN office.
Besides the vibrant main avenues, there are exclusive streets like Abuladze with elegant private houses and embassies (Lithuanian, Azerbaijan, Romanian), and Radiani street, with Londonish atmosphere and brick townhouses.
Park Town community consisting of Park Place, Park Gate, and Park Street buildings is the most desired residential complex in the city, in the ecologically clean and attractive landscaped environment, just next to Vake Park and Lokomotiv Stadium, at the Turtle Lake turn. It was developed by Bagebey City Group and offers its residents elegant, spacious apartments with panoramic views and other luxury conveniences. Superior Vake Swimming Pool and Fitness Club, with 5 star luxury service, is located across the street, next to the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.
Turtle Lake (Kus Tba) and Open Air Museum of Ethnography have long become a favorite place for Tbilisi residents, located in the hilly outskirts of Vake neighborhood. The lake is at elevation of 700m above sea level and the depth is about 2.6m. A popular weekend getaway for families, the lake offers boat and sun chair rentals, swimming is also permitted as soon as summer comes, although the water is not particularly clean. The people relax and enjoy snack bars and beach bars overlooking the lake and the mountain. Occasionally concerts are held and live music is pleasing in the evenings. Playground for children and football court are also located next to the lake. Walk-jog-running is quite popular on the track around the lake. The air is always fresh and summer evenings are chilly. The lake is very close to the city center, just about 3 kms up from Vake Park.
The Museum of Ethnography is a large exhibition of Georgia’s folk architecture. It is the first open air museum in Caucasus. The museum in a unique historic village that occupies 52 hectares of land, displaying around 70 buildings and more than 8,000 items from different regions of Georgia . The museum is hosting annual summertime folk culture festival Art-Gene.
There are some other lovely streets in Upper Vake like Tabidze, Razmadze and Tskhvedadze streets, with lots of private houses and beautiful yards, some of them with swimming pools.
Vake is also home to many offices like United Nations, World Bank, Asia Development Bank, EU Special Representative, Eurasia Partnership Foundation, Irex, American Councils, Lufthansa, etc. Head offices of Georgian banks are located along Chavchavadze avenue.
Tbilisi State University with its seven different buildings, is located in Vake, on Chavchavadze avenue. The university is the oldest in the entire Caucasus region founded in 1918. The first campus was constructed in renaissance style in 1906, standing in the heart of Vake. The Corinthian ramps add more charm to the building. In 1940, next to the first campus, the second building was constructed, with its character very much alike the first one. Unversity used to be Vake’s main claim to fame some years ago. The absence of the subway line is considered to be one of the cons of Vake neighborhood, though the cabs are pretty cheap and other public transportation are widely available.
Bagebi is a part of Vake neighborhood (according to the Tbilisi City Assembly), located on the far west end of Vake, along Tskneti highway. The advantage of the neighborhood is that while its just 5 min driving from the city center, still pretty quiet place with nice views, lots of pine trees and fresh air. Bagebi neighborhood is very convenient for families with kids. It was used to be a recreational zone before the construction boom has started.
Domus residential building and Dutch House are main visual landmarks of Bagebi with number of residential units.
New School, a very popular international school and kindergarten among foreign expats, is located in Bagebi since 2003 and provides International Baccalaureate education on both Georgian and English languages.
Until 1980 only few private houses were present from 1980 multistory buildings were constructed, the real construction boom has started from 2002.
Upper Bagebi has number of private houses and villas with beautiful yards and unobstructed views. Among them are famous Zurab Tsereteli house with Maia Tskneteli statue in the yard.
Vake is primarily residential neighborhood but it can serve as a great home base for Tbilisi visitors, and is certainly worth exploring. It has all: recreational parks, prestigious schools, tree-lined streets, great restaurants, trendy shops, interesting people, elegant apartments, family environment and all conveniences for its residents. Vake neighborhood is truly considered as Tbilisi’s living room.