The name Tbilisi originated from the Georgian word tbili which means warm. Legend connected with the city’s beginning says that famed 5th century Georgian tsar Vakhtang Gorgasali was hunting near Mtatsminda in the present day neighborhood of Sololaki when he saw a pheasant. He sent his falcon to retrieve it, but both birds disappeared. When the birds were found boiled in a hot spring. Vakhtang ordered that a city be built on the site of the west bank of the Mtkvari River.
The silhouette of Tbilisi is immediately recognizable and unique. The monumental sculpture of Kartlis Deda, Mother of Georgia, stands above central Tbilisi. Across the canyon atop Mtatsminda, Holy Mountain, sits the brightly lit space needle style communications tower visible from anywhere in the city.
A great way to begin exploring Tbilisi is to visit the many sights and features which distinguish the city.
Tbilisi is situated in a peculiar convergence of canyons, ravines and valleys so that panoramic views are accessible from all parts of the city. Two cable cars and a mountainside funicular take only minutes to reach the vantages of Narikala, Kus Tba (Turtle Lake), and Mtatsminda, respectively.
Peace Bridge crosses the Mtkvari to the fountains and paths of Rike Park which houses one of Tbilisi’s most impressive post-modern structures known as the Rike Park Concert Hall and Exhibition Center.
Across the river, the district known as Marjanishvili has recently undergone renovation, restoring Agmashenabeli Street to its original Baroque and Rococo splendor. The area is culturally diverse and offers a variety of eastern ethnic cuisine such as Turkish, Yemeni, Iranian and more.
Tbilisi is revered for its impressive orthodox churches which vary from picturesque chapelsto marvelous cathedrals such as Sioni and the golden domed Sameba. Nearby Jvari Monastery is a pilgrimage spot for Georgians and tourists.