Tbilisi is a historical city as it has been the capital of Georgia since V century. Times have passed and drastic changes have been made, that, of course, had an influence on the city’s architecture. Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Tbilisi’s architecture is authentic combination of these cultures. Here you can find Sulphur bathes called Abanotubani, contemporary skyscrapers, Soviet-era buildings, and traditional Georgian houses with colorful wooden balconies.
Bank of Georgia Headquarters
Built in 1975 by architects Giorgi Chakhava and Zurab Jalaghania, former Ministry of Highway Construction, has been the Bank of Georgia headquarters since 2007. This 18-storey building cannot be left out of sight and has never been. Being named as one of the best examples of constructivism style, this building has conferred an Immovable Monument status under the National Monuments Acts. The structure consists of interlocking concrete forms. Two-storey horizontal parts are placed on top of each other in the form of a grid. The design is based on a concept named Space City method, which means covering less ground and giving the space below the building back to nature, allowing the forest to grow within and around the structure – a perfect balance between nature and human space.
Writers’ House of Georgia
Among Tbilisi’s distinguished buildings that have endured centuries is Writer’s House of Georgia – a perfect blend of European and Georgian architectural styles. The Art-Nouveau mansion once belonged to David Sarajishvili – a famous philanthropist, founder of Georgian brandy production, Doctor of chemistry and philosophy, who commissioned the construction of the house for the 25th anniversary of his wedding in 1905. German architect Carl Zaar, in collaboration with Aleksander Ozerov and Korneli Tatishev planned the building, while exquisite wooden interior belongs to the Georgian craftsman Ilia Mamatsashvili. The terrace of the house is designed by ceramic tiles of famous Villeroy & Boch Company. Tiles with similar forms and patterns were an extreme rarity and were produced only on special orders. Since the day of its construction, this building has been an important center of the city’s cultural life and still continues to be as a place where the writers and artists actively involved in art processes.
Tbilisi State Opera House
When we talk about the most impressive and beautiful Theatres, it is impossible not to mention Tbilisi State Opera House. Its architecture and interior has been changed several times, but never lost its attractiveness. Tbilisi State Opera House is still undoubtedly one of the most elegant and fascinating theatrical constructions. The famous French writer Alexandre Dumas, who visited Tbilisi in 1858, dedicated a whole chapter to the Opera theatre in his book: “I must confess that as soon as I entered the lobby I was astonished by the simple and refined style of the ornament. I had a feeling as I entered the lobby of the Pompey Theatre… We entered the hall… I can say without hesitation that I, in my entire life, have never seen such a delightful hall…” On October 11, 1874 Tbilisi Opera House was destroyed by the fire. In 1896 the construction of the new Opera House, designed by the architect Victor Schröter, was finished. Unfortunately, at an interval of a century, in 1973 another fire incident destroyed almost the whole interior of the building. In 1978, the theatre was restored to its original form (architects: Leri Medzmariashvili, Murtaz Chachanidze). The authors of the reconstruction have succeeded in maintaining the Eastern, pseudo-Moorish style of the building. Six rehearsal halls were made (three of them – for ballet, two – for opera and one – for orchestra). Another huge project of repairing the theatre building started in 2010. The parts of the building were changed and renewed, but the most impressive fact was that the garden around the theatre became larger. The iconic stage curtain created by Sergo Kobuladze in 1960, which was burned in fire, returned to the stage renewed. Along with the marvelous architecture, you can enjoy various performances at Tbilisi State Opera House!
When you are wandering on the Rustaveli Avenue, it is impossible not to notice an exceptional, ravishing façade of historical Rustaveli theatre. Whereas you visit the theatre itself, you will understand that interior is not a bit less fascinating. The foundation of the building was laid in 1898 and the design belonged to Russian and Polish architects: Cornell Tatishchev and Aleksander Szymkiewicz. In 1949, fire annihilated everything except the façade, but everything was restored just in a year. The design uses the elements from the Baroque and Rococo style. Huge arch row, wide windows, high attic with round , ornamented dormers and a porticos on the pedestrian side of the street – this is what you will perceive at a glance. Even though many masterpieces have been lost that once adorned the theatre due the vicissitudes of life, Rustaveli Theatre maintains its position among one of the mesmerizing buildings of the capital.
Situated in Betlemi quarter of Old Tbilisi, Ateshgah is one of the oldest still existing Zoroastrian temples in the world. The name originates from the Persian “Ateshgah” – meaning the place for fire. Built in Sasanian era (224-651 AD) when Georgia was part of Persian Empire, this fire-worshipping altar has been awarded the status of cultural heritage monument of national importance. The Ateshgah exterior is a featureless brick cuboid, the steps are leading up to a pair of stout wooden doors, no windows, but instead – blank arches on each face. As authentic Zoroastrian fire temples are extremely rare, especially outside Iran, Ateshgah is a remarkable historical establishment.
State Silk Museum
Founded by the natural scientist Nikolai Shavrov, State Silk Museum is one of the oldest museums in Georgia. The complex of the Caucasian Silk Station was built during 1890-1892 by the Polish architect Alexander Szymkiewicz. The main building – dominating the complex, is distinguished by red brick facades, a mansard roof and a large portico. Interior adornment, apart from architectural decoration, features silk related elements in the designs of a frieze, a cornice and a pilaster. Stylistically representing the fusion of Classicism, Gothic and Islamic arts, State Silk Museum is one of the finest works of Tbilisi Architecture.
Authorized School No.6
Historical district Sololaki is definitely worth visiting. Located where Dadiani and Asatiani streets meet, former Women’s Georgian Gymnasium #3 is an outstanding example of the Neo-Gothic style brick building. Built by architect Alexander Ozerov in 1903-1905, so-called Georgian Hogwarts has retained its habitual mystical atmosphere up to present. The Building has undergone through capital repair and fortunately, most of the authentic architectural details have been preserved, such as: the old marble staircase with beautiful railings, wooden doors and peculiar façade with huge windows. Now serving as the Authorized School #6, the building is listed among cultural heritage monuments.
Cable Car Station
Famous stairs on the Rustaveli avenue are known for the “last-minute” souvenir destination. Every tourist has passed this place while strolling in the city center. However, only a few have noticed an oval symmetric tower behind the stairs, in the depth of the inner garden. Designed by K. Chkheidze and built in 1958-1960 it used to be a lower Station of the Mtatsminda cableway. a series of large glazed arches let light into the inner ramp that wraps round the oval shape. Outer walls are made of Georgian stone of the orange color, while windows have beautifully patterned metalwork. This iconic building is on every tourists’ route, so make sure you don’t forget to take a look behind the stairs with art souvenirs on Rustaveli avenue.
Madam Bozarjiantz’s House
Located on Chonkadze street, this magnificent mansion has received a silver medal for the Best Façade in Tbilisi in 1915. It used to belong to a tobacco producer Nikoloz Bozarjiantz who made his wife an official owner of the property. However, this did not save the millionaire wealth. When communists occupied Tbilisi, they took away the entire mansion and left only 2 rooms for the family.
There is a small garden in front of the T-shaped building. Once it used to be a parking space for the first automobile in the city. The interior of the building is full of Venice glass delivered from Italy. The most magnificent of all are the colorful ceilings.
The mansion was supposed to be inherited by 3 sons of Nikoloz and Madam Bozarjiantz – 1 floor for each son. But unfortunately, the entire family vanished during the communism era and now descendants of Soviet revolutionaries own small spaces in this magnificent building.
The Diamond Palace
The Diamond Palace was once a building of an Iranian Council in Georgia. In 1892, the building was officially opened. It is rumored that the opening ceremony was of unprecedented luxury. The fountain in the inner garden was filled with wine instead of water. The entire territory was lit with Japanese lanterns and there was an incredible firework in front of the building. Nowadays, only a small part of the building is preserved, but it still reminds of the past glory.
Mirza Reza has left incredible buildings not only in Tbilisi, but in Borjimi, Georgia (Turquoise Palace) and in Monaco (Villa Isfahan) as well.
© Times of U