What to see IN GEORGIA’S CAPITAL

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SOPHIE KILASONIA – ART HISTORIAN

METECHI CHURCH, CITADEL AND YARD – While looking from the yard, you’ll see the Mtkvari riverbank and this is the very place from which the historic city begins. The oldest district and the church there were constructed in the V century, but were destroyed several times over. In the Soviet regime, Metechi Church functioned as a prison until 1938. During Soviet repressions in the 1930s, officials wanted to destroy the church, but society protested vehemently. The history of Metechi Church somehow resembles Georgia’s history.

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THE WRITERS’ HOUSE- Located at #13 Ivane Machabeli Street, this building has changed functions and owners many times and in recent years is has been home to the Writers House. It was built in 1903-1905 by Georgian Maecenas and businessman David Sarajishvili to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary with Ekaterine Porakishvili. From the start, Sarajishvili’s house became an essential part of Tbilisi’s cultural life and a place where prominent writers and public figures gathered and worked on the conception of Georgia’s independence. The house has also hosted exhibitions and presentations of various publications and books. According to architectural experts, this building is a wonderful example of mixed Tbilisian and European architecture.

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THE BUILDING OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS – I have chosen those four buildings with one principle – to tell you history of Tbilisi and Georgia sequentially. Logically the last location should tell you something about the modern history of the capital. This style belongs to former president, Mikheil Saakashvili and is a series of buildings made of glass. Glass as an idea of transparency has moved from politics to urban spaces. You can see transparent bridges, police buildings and even the new building of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Actually, the idea of transparency and openness found its place easier in architecture than in life, but anyway it stands as a challenge for modern Georgia.

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IMELI BUILDING – Located on Rustaveli Avenue and specially built as a filial of the Marx- Engels-Lenin Institute, it housed a scientific-research institution and the Lenin Museum. The building façade was adorned with reliefs – very nice examples of Social realism art, created by the famous Georgian sculptors Iakob Nikoladze and Tamar Abakelia. In 2007 the building was removed from the list of cultural heritage buildings and was sold to be made into a hotel. The Soviet symbolic elements were removed from the façade but, thanks to public activism, two of its facades and a small part of the inner space have been preserved to the present day.

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VAZHA-PSHAVELA AVENUE AND THE KHRUSHCHYOVKAS – A low-cost, concrete-paneled or brick threeto five – storey apartment building which was developed in the USSR during the early 1960s at a time when their namesake, Nikita Khrushchev, directed the Soviet government. Vazha-Pshavela Avenue is a face as well as paradox of the Soviet Union. Vazha-Pshavela was a very significant Georgian writer, whose ideas were very close to freedom and humanism. Districts with Khrushchyovka buildings are among the most non-human and non-harmonious precedents in the history of architecture.

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