Out on the Old Town

Tbilisi Travel Blog

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Cracked building

Today was Georgia’s Independence Day. Due to current political problems, the government agreed to not have a celebration if the political parties took a day off from protesting. Over breakfast we were able to ask Jerry and Olga about the flags we had seen on the demonstrators huts.  It turns out we were right in our assumption that they represent different political parties.  The huts that have “Cell XXX” on them represent prison cells that the protestors believe they have been placed in from a judicial and freedom of press standpoint by the President.  There are numerous political parties here.  Mostly they are formed around individuals with specific ideas and come and go quickly.  None of them are well organized.  They fall into two main groups though, political and human rights issue vs.

Angelic doorway
social issues.  The President is mainly support by the social groups because of all he has done to improve the basic living.  He is very popular in the rural areas that require more basic support.

 

Rob was able to try the honey he had purchased at Davit Garedja.  It was WONDERFUL and he just kept eating it.  After breakfast we headed out to spend time in the part of old town we had missed up to this point.  There was a carpet and Kilim shop I really wanted to go into.  These shops are so accommodating to show you as many items as you want to see, of course they will because they want to sell you something.  We focused on the Kilims.  They had many old ones.

Sweet old couple
  I sweat they must have added dust to them to make them more authentic or rustic.  Every one they pulled down spread dust.  Rob’s allergies had been acting up some on the trip and now they were in full force.  When he sneezes it is LOUD!!!  He can scare small children and animals.  By the time we had looked at a few rugs I am sure every stray dog and cat had fled the neighborhood in fear of it’s life.  We saw some fabulous items old and not so old.  Some were very damaged, but they could repair them with time and for a price.  We also looked at sumees which are different from Kilims because they are embroidered. I found a killim that I was quite taken with from the Kaheti region. It had interesting geometric shapes and vibrant colors.  In the end there were two we considered but walked out without purchasing.

 

 From there we talked to a small park beside a Sioni Cathedral.

Buildign with old town charm
There were many people and they all seem to be carrying, buying, or wearing fresh flowers. I assume that it had something to do with the special day. Some kids and teens were having flowers painted on their faces. We continue on the Bambis rigi and Shardenis qucha that has been renovated and quite nice with cafes flowing out into the walkway, art, and souvenir shops.  We ended up at the Gorgasalis moedani which is just a large interchange where there seems to be no logic or rules to driving through it.  We cross the river to go up to the Metekhi Church perched high above the river.  In the courtyard looking out over Tbilisi and waving “Hi Honey” to Mother Georgia is a massive statue of King Vakhtang Gorgasali.  The site is where he built his castle and the original church. 

 

As we passed over the Metekhi Bridge we noticed a cute little chapel down next the river.

Beautiful relief
  We did a slight detour to check it out.  Inside was a beautiful mosaic with gold tiles.  Moving on to the courtyard of the church we noticed a couple of young sheep tied up.  Based on some of the conversations we had had I don’t think they were there as pets and did not have a long expectancy.  We were able to get some really good views of the city and Europe Square.  Inside the Cathedral was pretty bland and unadorned.  By this time both us of has to urinate so badly our eyes were floating and turning yellow.  I could barely walk I had go so bad.  So we took desperate and unholy measures.  We went back down toward the river chapel and found a small hidden spot between the gift shop (which was closed) and the rocky hill to find salvation.  One of us watched for the other as we consecrated the soil in our own way.
KGB is still watching you restaurant
  After this we headed back to drop off some stuff at the hotel and have lunch. 

 

After lunch we headed up to the fortress.  To get there was a little tricky.  First we had to find the road and fill out a waiver for our insurance company releasing them form paying out any claim for death or dismemberment from visiting this site.  We had to take a huge leap of faith that the road we found lead to the fortress.  It looked like an old unused country road that was just now being paved, with brick.  We noticed other people headed up, even an old hunchbacked woman and her grandson, so we followed. The incline started out as a love and relaxing 45 degree angle covered in rough stones.  From there it got better as they were terracing it to be a nice 30 degree incline.

Chapel below St Nikolok Church
  But there was at least a walk way on one side with holes for future guardrails.  As climbed the view kept getting better reveling more and more of the valley between the mountains and the different part of Tbilisi.  In the distance we could see the communist block housing far removed from the old town on a distant hill. 

 

Once at the top we saw the remains of a once might palace inside the fortress walls and the church that was rebuilt in the 1990’s.  Moving to the back side we had a great view of the back side of the fortress walls.  I noticed some people of top what had been an upper section of a tower and I was going to get up there!!!  We started to work our way around and up.

Shoppers on the Bambis Rigi
  Rob kept saying this place would never be allowed to open to the public in the US.  It was basically just old ruins with no real steps or guardrails or safety measures.  We were climbing up rough and jagged hills to get to places with significant sheer drops.  IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!!  To get to one place we found what had been a staircase at one time but was now a crumbling death ladder with barely any run or rise, yet about 100 feet of height. Once we got up there the view was so worth the effort.  IT was beginning to sprinkle the rain so we headed back down.

 

As we were exiting the fortress a guy said “Hello” to us with a big smile and asked us where we were from and began to guess states at random once we told him America.

Mosaic details on the Orbeliani baths
  He was very friendly and told us he was of Armenian decent but born in Georgia.  He asked if we like to take pictures and pointed out a hotel down by the river with a nice terrace on top.  He said had done marketing for them and offered to take us up on the roof to see a different view of the church and fortress. We told him we were leaving the next day and really couldn’t make it.  Rob said his girlfriend was looking bored and he should get back to her.  We left not really sure if this was the famous Georgian hospitality and friendliness or just some guy trying to pull something.

 

At this point it was starting to get dark so we headed to the hotel and called it a day.  We popped in a DVD and just relaxed some.

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Cracked building
Cracked building
Angelic doorway
Angelic doorway
Sweet old couple
Sweet old couple
Buildign with old town charm
Buildign with old town charm
Beautiful relief
Beautiful relief
KGB is still watching you restaura…
KGB is still watching you restaur…
Chapel below St Nikolok Church
Chapel below St Nikolok Church
Shoppers on the Bambis Rigi
Shoppers on the Bambis Rigi
Mosaic details on the Orbeliani ba…
Mosaic details on the Orbeliani b…
Sioni Cathedral
Sioni Cathedral
Tower windows of the Sioni Cathedr…
Tower windows of the Sioni Cathed…
Entrance to residence of the Catho…
Entrance to residence of the Cath…
Chapel at Sioni Cathedral
Chapel at Sioni Cathedral
Roof of the Sulphur baths
Roof of the Sulphur baths
Flower for sale to celebrate Indep…
Flower for sale to celebrate Inde…
Celebrating Independance
Celebrating Independance
Grandmother monitoring the kids
Grandmother monitoring the kids
Just another day in paradise
Just another day in paradise
Fortress on the hill
Fortress on the hill
Gorgasalis moedani traffic interse…
Gorgasalis moedani traffic inters…
Metekhi Church
Metekhi Church
Looking out on the fortress from t…
Looking out on the fortress from …
Rug we considered buying
Rug we considered buying
Bridghtly colored rug
Bridghtly colored rug
Piano on the street
Piano on the street
Unique sign for a shop
Unique sign for a shop
Me after a long day and little food
Me after a long day and little food
Young ladies with faces painted ce…
Young ladies with faces painted c…
Me giving peace a chance
Me giving peace a chance
Rob looking for peace
Rob looking for peace
Chapel on river below Metekhi Chur…
Chapel on river below Metekhi Chu…
Glimpse mosaic in chapel
Glimpse mosaic in chapel
Roof lines of Metekhi Church
Roof lines of Metekhi Church
Golden mosaic in chapel
Golden mosaic in chapel
Cross on the ceiling
Cross on the ceiling
Narikala Fortress on the hill
Narikala Fortress on the hill
Detail of mosaic in chapel
Detail of mosaic in chapel
Mosaic church
Mosaic church
Bells in courtyard of Metekhi chur…
Bells in courtyard of Metekhi chu…
Lamb in courtyard of Metekhi Church
Lamb in courtyard of Metekhi Church
Chuch of St Nicholas
Chuch of St Nicholas
Church on a distant hill
Church on a distant hill
Curvy iron window grate
Curvy iron window grate
Sunnite mosque in Old Town
Sunnite mosque in Old Town
Looking out on the town from Metek…
Looking out on the town from Mete…
Mother Georgia looking out on the …
Mother Georgia looking out on the…
TV Tower in distance
TV Tower in distance
King Vakhtang Gorgasal statue
King Vakhtang Gorgasal statue
Tower of Sioni Cathedral on right
Tower of Sioni Cathedral on right
Narikala Fortress
Narikala Fortress
Distant view of the mosque
Distant view of the mosque
Tbilisi town view
Tbilisi town view
King Vakhtang Gorgasal statue
King Vakhtang Gorgasal statue
Metekhi Church and statue of King …
Metekhi Church and statue of King…
View of the sulphur baths
View of the sulphur baths
Minaret behind the sulphur baths
Minaret behind the sulphur baths
Little girl on a sulphur bath vent
Little girl on a sulphur bath vent
Domed roof of the sulphur baths
Domed roof of the sulphur baths
Beautiful tiled roof
Beautiful tiled roof
Houses below the Narikala Fortress
Houses below the Narikala Fortress
Vents for the sulphur baths
Vents for the sulphur baths
Orbeliani Baths
Orbeliani Baths
Blue moasics of the Orbeliani Baths
Blue moasics of the Orbeliani Baths
Mosaic arch of the Orbeliani Baths
Mosaic arch of the Orbeliani Baths
Details of blue mosic
Details of blue mosic
Tiny mosaic detailing
Tiny mosaic detailing
Orbeliani Baths and blue balcony
Orbeliani Baths and blue balcony
Synagogue
Synagogue
Church
Church
Road to the Narikala Fortress
Road to the Narikala Fortress
View from Narikala Fortress
View from Narikala Fortress
Intricately detailed porch screen
Intricately detailed porch screen
City of contrasts
City of contrasts
Rob and me with the back view of t…
Rob and me with the back view of …
Mother Georgia
Mother Georgia
Old walls of the fortress
Old walls of the fortress
Church of St Nicholas in the fortr…
Church of St Nicholas in the fort…
Bells on the fortress walls
Bells on the fortress walls
Look Ma, no safety rails
Look Ma, no safety rails
You want me to climb where?
You want me to climb where?
Looking down on Church of St Nicho…
Looking down on Church of St Nich…
Looking down on the city
Looking down on the city
Old fortress walls
Old fortress walls
Roband his tripod
Roband his tripod
Me energized from the climb
Me energized from the climb
Looking out along the wall
Looking out along the wall
Blue capped tower
Blue capped tower
Us at the fortress
Us at the fortress
Freedom square in the distance
Freedom square in the distance
Sioni Cathedral
Sioni Cathedral
Tower of Sub-Gevokk Church
Tower of Sub-Gevokk Church
Orbeliani Baths at night
Orbeliani Baths at night
Rob working on the blog
Rob working on the blog
Tbilisi
photo by: herman_munster