TRAVELERS OFTEN NOTE THAT AFTER VISITING TBILISI THEY FEEL SOMEWHAT TIED TO THIS LITTLE CITY. TBILISI HAS ITS INDIVIDUAL RHYTHM OF LIFE – GOOD AND BAD, BUT IT CAN BECOME YOUR PERMANENT INSPIRATION IF YOU LOOK AT GEORGIA’S CAPITAL FROM ABOVE- HEAD UPWARDS INTO THE HILLS AND MOUNTAINS AND DO IT BY ROPEWAY!
YES INDEED, APART FROM CURVED BALCONIES AND GOURMET FOOD, TBILISI IS ALSO HOME TO ROPEWAYS, THE FIRST OF WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1957 TO CONNECT THE CENTRAL PART OF THE CITY, RUSTAVELI AVENUE, WITH MTATSMINDA PARK. THE LENGTH OF THIS ROPEWAY WAS ONE KILOMETER AND IT HAD TWO 25-SEAT WAGONS. AFTER MTSATSMINDA, SUCH CONSTRUCTIONS EMERGED IN DIFFERENT PLACES AND GEORGIANS GOT SO SKILLED AT MAKING ROPEWAYS THAT FOR THIS PURPOSE THEY WERE INVITED TO VARIOUS BALTIC COUNTRIES, THE MIDDLE EAST, UKRAINE AND OTHER COUNTRIES.
THERE WERE SIX FUNCTIONAL ROPEWAYS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 1990S IN TBILISI. THIS COMFORTABLE, ECONOMICAL AND ECOLOGICALLY SAFE TRAFFIC ALSO CONNECTED SOME DISTRICTS OF THE CAPITAL.
AT PRESENT THERE ARE THREE ROPEWAYS FUNCTIONING IN THE CAPITAL OF GEORGIA.
THE TURTLE LAKE ROPEWAY
The 1140m long ropeway connecting Vake district and Turtle Lake opened in 1966. Its lower station is located on Chavchavadze Avenue near Vake Park and the upper at Turtle Lake 700 meters above sea level. This ropeway closed in 2009 and until the new one opens there this July, it is possible to get to the lake from Bagebi highway and walking routes from Vake Park.
The renovated ropeway will open in July allowing visitors of Tbilisi an oportunity to get to Turtle Lake from Chavchavadze Avenue in just 5-6 minutes. The comfortable gondolas of the new ropeway will be safe, modernized and accessible to the disabled.
Turtle Lake is a true oasis to head to to escape the summer heat and breathe fresh air, cycle around the lake, take a ride on a boat, sunbathe, play football, relax and taste gourmet food in a choice of terrace cafes.
Turtle Lake often hosts different festivals and sporting activities. There is also an open-air ethnographical museum nearby showcasing Georgia’s versatile ethno culture – around 70 houses and farm buildings from every region of Georgia.
Mtatsminada with its urban symbol of a TV mast is an essential component of Tbilisi’s silhouette. This mountain is one of the most important landmarks of the capital, attracting tourists all year round.
The easiest and shortest way to get there is the funicular railway. Constructed in 1905 by Georgian engineers together with French, Belgian and Italian colleagues, the idea for this funicular railway at Mtatsminsa plateau came about while building a new part of the city there.
The lower station of the 0.5km long funicular railway is located on Chonkadze Street. The funicular is well-equipped and is safe. Trams leave every ten minuses and a ticket costs 2 GEL.
The Funicular opens at 9:00 am and works till late evening.
Mtatsmianda Park, with its entertainment zone Bombora, is the highest point in the city. As well as the Funicular railway, it is also possible to get to the Park- approximately 7.5 km from Tbilisi center- by car or bus. The Park dates back to the beginning of the 20th century and its territory is divided into different areas: extremal, children and family zones. There are also cafes and restaurants and a three-storey building with its the legendary “Funicular” restaurant. This building was constructed in 1936-38 and has been a very special place for locals and Tbilisi’s guests ever since. It historical façade is preserved and one can see there the artwork of well-known Georgian painter Koka Ignatov.
It is a true delight to relax at Mtatsminda Park and catch a glimpse of fantastic views over Tbilisi. There is also the nearby Saint David church and pantheon of public figures and writerswalk up from Chonkadze or take the Funicular to the central stop.
The 500m long ropeway connecting Rike Park and Narikala fortress is just four years old, but it is a “hotspot” for tourists. Located in Old Tbilisi, this ropeway gives a brilliant chance to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of the city.
The gondolas have large windows and one of them is totally transparent. As tourists point out, Tbilisi looks really gorgeous from this ropeway, especially at night.
The Rike-Narikala ropeway passes the most active touristic sites and not only connects these two places, but also makes its passengers feel part of history. The lower station of the ropeway is located in Rike, near Metechi Bridge, and from the upper station one can follow routes going to Narikala fortress, to the national botanical garden and to the monument “Mother of Georgia” – another symbol of Tbilisi.
The Narikala fortress was built in the 4th century with solid walls and towers to defend the city. The total area of the botanical garden is 128,000 hectares and you may view there a wide and rich collection of the world’s flora, and several bridges one of which- the arched bridge, near the waterfall – was built in 1914. There are also areas with unique plants of the Caucasus region, the tropical orangery and plants kept in the “Red Book”.