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Tbilisi

Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century by the king of Georgia Vakhtang I Gorgasali (452-502).
According to the legend, King Vakhtang Gorgasali, about 1500 years ago, shot down a beautiful deer in a mountain valley. The animal fell into a spring. Suddenly it leaped out of the water and to the king’s astonishment, bounded away as swift as an arrow. The water in the spring was warm and seemed to possess a mysterious healing power. The king ordered a town to be built there and it was named Tbilisi, from the word "tbili” meaning warm.

The city stands on the banks of the River Mtkvari, in the valley surrounded by hills. It is best seen from the top of mount Mtatsminda. With its warm climate, stone houses built around vine-draped courtyards, and winding streets, Tbilisi has a lively, Mediterranean atmosphere. The old city, spreading out from the right bank of the river, has numerous frescoed churches (the most noteworthy being the six-century Sioni Cathedral ), 19th-century houses with arcaded open galleries on the apper floors, a castle and surprising number of cafes and enticing tourist shops selling locally produced arts and crafts.

Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare, features an assortment of stylish public buildings testifying to the city’s prosperity at the turn of the century.
The Georgian State Museum on Rustaveli Avenue houses a collection of icons, frescoes and porcelain, as well as an outstanding display of jewellery discovered in pre-Christian Georgian tombs.
The Georgian Museum of Arts, in the center of the city, includes many works by the much-loved 19th-century "primitive” artist, Niko Pirosmani.
The Narikala Fortress, firs established in the fourth century AD and most recently rebuilt in the 17th century, is a good vantage point for views over the old city.

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