Wooden Balconies of Tbilisi
A Voyage into the Past
At the beginning of the 19th century, Tbilisi was more like an Asian city – with narrow streets that were so compact carts hardly could go by, and in muddy weather passersby almost bumped into each other. But the special charm of Old Tbilisi, attracting a plethora of tourists today, can be experienced not only in its narrow streets, but also while viewing old houses, mostly built with stones and bricks. These houses, often two-storey, usually have little, cozy yards and balconies. Tbilisian balconies, wooden, glass, wraparound, open, closed, old, or new, are truly unique and absolutely beautiful.
Old Tbilisi’s real soul can be explored in a diversity of wooden balconies. You can often come across houses built in Baroque and Rococo style, but here I will focus on the wooden “hanging” balconies.
While strolling from Freedom Square to Sololaki, you can turn whenever you want and follow your intuition. Trust me, you won’t get lost and you should defi nitely check out the Narikala Fortress, which is seen from every corner, especially in the evening when the city, sparkling, comes alive with various lights.
Old Tbilisian houses are not high and their balconies are easy to see. Just imagine that you are now in the very part of the city where two centuries ago joiners and brick-layers passed by to fi nd a job and where village women sold Georgian yoghurt in clay pots.
This place was and still remains the heart of Tbilisi. Yogurt is still sold there and modern housewives from wooden balconies, just like a century ago, loudly greet each other to discuss everyday life and the increased price of honey. You can fi nd tiny markets selling products, autumn fruits and vegetables under these tracery wooden balconies. Old shops have been replaced there by cozy cafes and wine cellars; at open stands you can buy the national sweets – Churchkhela and dried fruits.
A Tbilisian balcony can also be a place to express benevolence – a host can see an approaching guest from there and loudly greet them. He might enthusiastically tell you the history of his family and of course, would ask you about yours… By the way, these balconied houses have a special smell of old wooden floors.
You can come across these beautiful true Tbilisian balconies near Betlemi Street and Bread (Puris) Square; real architectural masterpieces are also located in Tsikhisubani, Kldisubani and in the Kala area.
You also have an opportunity to see such balconies along the street leading up to the Botanical Garden; despite these being reconstructions, they still maintain their unique charm. Neighboring houses of Old Tbilisi also have glass galleries and balconies on the inner side – a perfect place to entertain guests, sip wine and catch a glimpse of picturesque views.
Often, Tbilisian balconies have a round shape and surround a building corner. Such a balcony can be found in Sololaki, on the corner of Dadiani and Asatiani streets. This balcony is two hundred years old with a beautiful balustrade and columns which were processed with such mastery that the balcony was awarded special architectural status. Apart from this, it was a very special place, where the boundaries of Old Tbilisi once ran.
The Darejani Palace above Wine Rise also has an attractive round balcony which, like a swallow nest, beautifi es one of the fulcrums of a tower and can be observed from many parts of the old town.