With a quarter of Georgia’s population, Tbilisi (თბილისი) is the place where Georgians gravitate for action and excitement. The city brims with history and has a dramatic setting on hillsides either side of the swift Mtkvari River. Its Old Town, at the narrowest part of the valley, is still redolent of an ancient Eurasian crossroads, with winding lanes, old balconied houses, leafy squares, handsome churches and countless busy bars and cafes, all overlooked by the 17-centuries-old Nariqala Fortress.
Tbilisi is also a modern city trying to move forward in the 21st century after the strife and stagnation of the late 20th. Its streets are crowded with pedestrians, construction debris and hurtling or crawling traffic. Flagship building projects, from a new cathedral and presidential palace to revamped parks and museums, coexist with crowded old markets, confusing bus stations and shabby Soviet apartment blocks.
Tbilisi is still the beating heart of the South Caucasus and should not be missed by any visitor.
Travel literature review: The Caucasus
The Caucasus: An Introduction by Thomas de Waal Rating: 4 out of 5 Reviewed by Will Gourlay The roaming Arab armies of the 7th century were so baffled by the profusion of dialects and overlapping cultures they found i...