Have you ever given any thought to traveling to Georgia? Lots of people recommend traveling to the country’s capital, Tbilisi, but the reason others don’t go is because they are unware of the things they can do there and the kind of environment they will find. Technically, the country is located in Eurasia, but it is beautifully described as the balcony of Europe and is a magical place. In the past few years, it has become even more reachable with direct flights. Tbilisi, the charming capital of Georgia, is a must-visit because this city has a hidden treat to offer you at every turn. The great wine, food and the friendly locals will make you want to visit the city right now.
However, if you are still unsure of whether to visit Tbilisi or not, here are some great reasons that will convince you to take the leap and explore this exciting city:
Reason 1: The breathtaking setting
Backed by the mountains, Tbilisi is perched on the banks of the Mtkvari River and is one of the oldest settlements of the world. Archaeologists discovered that human habitation in the city can be traced as far back as 4000 BC. But, what makes Tbilisi worth traveling to, is the fact that it is a beguiling mix of old buildings and natural beauty. It is a picturesque location that carries the disheveled charm of the art buildings and crumbly old town falling into disrepair.
It also has a fabled history and served as an important stop on the Old Silk Road. As a result, you find a city that is eclectic in terms of architecture and diverse in terms of ethnicities. A walk into the Old Town from the Persian Sulphur baths reveal Armenian and Georgian churches, synagogues and mosques and also Zoroastrian fire temples. Suffice it to say, you will want to wander around the city.
Reason 2: The thermal baths
If you take a look at Tbilisi’s history, you will find that the thermal baths that bubble below the city have always played an important role. According to legend, the site for the city was chosen by King Vakhtang Gorgasal after his hunting pheasant came back with a pheasant that had been poached in the waters. When Tbilisi served as a notable hub on the Old Silk Road, the traders couldn’t enter the city walls until they had bathed in the waters. Even the name of the city is derived from an old Georgian word called ‘tbili’, which means warm.
Today, the Abanotubani district is where you will find most of the thermal baths and they are designed as per the Persian tradition of allowing the sulphurous and hot water to bubble up in a natural way. Most of these baths were built during Soviet times and are utilitarian, but some are designed as the baths seen in Arabian Nights. No matter what bath you opt for, the ritual remains the same; soaking in a hot bath for 15 minutes and then getting a massage, scrub and ice cold rinse from a Georgian masseuse.
Reason 3: The food
If you are on a diet, you should definitely not visit Tbilisi because each meal is defined as Supra (feast). Known as Kachapuri, the local cheese bread is filled with an egg yoke and the local sulguni cheese and covered in butter. The result is something delicious and gooey. Another popular dish favored by tourists is called Khinkhali, which are essentially spicy meat dumplings. As for vegetarians, there are mouthwatering salads cooked with cilantro and dressed with bean stews and walnuts. Churchkhela is a great option in puddings, which is sweet and dry grape skins filled with walnuts and rolled into a sausage.
Reason 4: The wine
Wine is an important part of the country’s national identity and for 8000 years, Georgians have been producing excellent wines. One of the best things about Georgian wines is that they are very cheap and affordable and regular wine tastings can be enjoyed at the G.Vino wine bar in Tbilisi. On the outskirts of the city, there is the Numisi wine cellar that gives you an insight into how the people have made wine for centuries.