Georgia, located at the eastern end of the Black Sea on the southern flanks of the main top of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
It is bounded on the north and northeast by Russia, on the east and southeast by Azerbaijan, on the south by Armenia and Turkey, and on the west by the Black Sea.
Georgia includes three cultural areas: Abkhazia, in the northwest (principal city Sokhumi); Ajaria, in the southwest (principal city Batumi); and South Ossetia, in the north (principal city Tskhinvali). The capital of Georgia is Tbilisi (Tiflis).
The roots of the Georgian people extend deep in history; their cultural heritage is equally ancient and rich. During the period, a powerful Georgian kingdom existed, reaching its height between the 10th and 13th centuries. After a long period of Turkish and Persian domination, Georgia was seized by the Russian Empire in the 19th century. An independent Georgian state existed from 1918 to 1921, when it was incorporated into the Soviet Union. In 1936 Georgia became a union republic and continued as such until the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the Soviet period, the Georgian economy was modernized and diversified. One of the most independence-minded republics, Georgia declared authority on November 19, 1989, and independence on April 9, 1991.
The story of the capital of Georgia…
History of Tbilisi covers 1500 years from the date of formation to the present time. The story of the capital of Georgia is a blend of myths and facts. According to a famous legend, back in year 458 A.D. King Vakhtang I Gorgasal was hunting in the woods on the banks of the Kura River and wounded a pheasant (some sources say it was a deer). The animal ran to an area includes hot waters and waterfalls. The King was amazed at the healing features of the springs and decided to build a city around it. This is how Tbilisi (which means “warm”) appeared. In present, there are famous baths in the place of the springs that can be found around the city.
The relationship between Georgia and Persia
However, this is just a beautiful legend, and the real story is wonderful. The first chronicle of Tbilisi as a fortress over the river dates back to the 4th century A.D. At that times, there already was a Persian citadel that later was named Narikala, and the capital of Georgian kings was in Mtskheta, 20 km away from Tbilisi. In the 5th century, the King Vakhtang conquered and restored the Persian fortress. After the construction, the capital was moved there. By the way, archeological findings state that this territory was already populated in the 4th millennium B.C.
At the same time, Metekhi fortress was founded on the other row of the Kura, where today there is a church with the same name and a monument to Vakhtang, founder of Tbilisi. This citadel became the residence of all following rulers of Georgia. The city was also surrounded by fortress walls, and the church Anchiskhati was built at that time. It is one of the rare constructions that has been preserved up to our days. The city, however, did not remain long in the hands of the Georgian kings and in year 626 it was seized by Persians who considered the place as their northern outpost. Thus, it was the beginning of the blending of Christian and Zoroastrian cultures in the city.
In this period …
Persian rule did not last long, in 653 the Arab troops of Khabib ibn Maslama came to the Caucasus. There was no violence but Tbilisi and entire Georgia were dominated by the Arabs who guaranteed the security of the residents and preservation of churches and religions. In 736, the city was seized by a more aggressive Arab commander Mervan II ibn Mukhammad, who founded the Tbilisi caliphate. However, he did not manage to conquer other cities and Tbilisi was the only Muslim city in the Caucasus. Emir of Tbilisi could not hold his power and even tried to separate it from the Arab Caliphate but his attempt failed; it was followed by an army that came to the city and the Christian population had to migrate to Abkhazia.
After centuries of Arab domination, the new turn in the history of Tbilisi was the triumphal appearance of the Georgian King David the Builder. In 1122, he won the city back, made it the capital of united Georgia and began constructions, for what he had been named “The Builder”. Along with this, David was a loyal and tolerant ruler; the Muslim population of Tbilisi was not prosecuted and representatives of different religions lived side by side. During his reign, the capital turned into one of the largest trade and crafts centers of the Caucasus.
The Golden age
This period in the history of Tbilisi is called the Golden Age. As a rich city, it attracted the attention of the conquerors: first, in 1226, the city was ruined by the troops of the Khorezm Sultan Jalaluddin Manguberdi, and later in 1238, the city was invaded by the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan.
Conquests and battles devastated Tbilisi. Later in 1366, an outbreak of the Great Outbreak struck the city and in 1386 it was invaded by the armies of Tamerlane. During the 16-17th centuries, it was occupied by Persians and Turks. These centuries were the hard times for Tbilisi, but it stood against it all.
In the 19th century, Tbilisi steadily and continuously developed: new enterprises were set up, trading net and the population increased. The city became the center of the entire Caucasus; famous writers, poets, and artists from Russia and Europe visited the city. Moreover, novelties such as telegraph, an opera theatre, and the Caucasian Railroad appeared. The biggest part of the Old Tbilisi today is presented with houses of the 19th century and this refers to the strength of buildings.
In 1918, Georgia announced its independence. However, later the country was included in the structure of the Soviet Union (USSR). It was the time when the monumental construction and destruction of religious monuments had started.