Tbilisi, with a population of over one million three hundred thousand, is an elegant and welcoming city.
The Hindu writer Kalpana Sahni said: “Some countries attract one instantly. Georgia seduces you the moment you set your foot on its soil”, and the truth is, that this is what one feels even before setting foot in Tbilisi, a city that, although it has been ransacked and destroyed some 30 times in the last 1,500 years, still conserves its remarkable spirit.
Built in the 5th century, and with the Mtkvari River running through it, Tbilisi is not only the capital of Georgia, but it has always been considered the great metropolis of the Caucasus. Today, distinctive buildings stand along Rustaveli Avenue. Here we find the Morisco style Opera, and the Rustaveli Theatre, site of rehearsals and performances of the Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet, the only folklore ensemble in the world to perform at La Scala in Milan. The final dance performed had three encores, to incessant ovations. The curtain was raised 14 times, which was a record. No one had anticipated such overwhelming success.
Tbilisi, with a population of over one million three hundred thousand, is an elegant and welcoming city. It encompasses the spirit of the whole of Georgia, a forward looking country, which has literacy levels above the European average thanks to its excellent educational system. All the signs point to Tbilisi, and Georgia in general, undergoing strong development in the 21st century. This is a unique nation which, besides its distinctive alphabet and “Kartvelian” language, one of the oldest in the world, has left the world a legacy of artists such as Niko Pirosmani, the self-taught painter who chronicled daily life in Georgia towards the end of the XIX century.
Nowadays, Tbilisi continues to expand non-stop; the city changes, but its diversity remains because for centuries, Georgians, Armenians, Jews, Kurds, Greeks and people of many other nationalities have coexisted in peace and harmony, as if they were one large family. Rugby is the national sport, although martial arts and chess are both extremely popular. Tigran Petrosian was born in Tbilisi and was world chess champion for many years. Relaxed, friendly, open and affectionate: these are the fundamental reasons why people often say that the citizens of this Caucasian Republic have a Mediterranean character.
Georgia is a nation renowned for its creativity and successful musicians, such as Katie Melua, who has been a top selling artist in the United Kingdom. Jazz can be heard in many bars and cafes in the capital, a perfect way to spend an evening in this lively and spiritual city. Tbilisi is undoubtedly an essential piece of the great national puzzle. Shota Rustaveli, one of the greatest contributors to medieval literature, wrote that the essential requirements for love are: beauty, wisdom, generosity, intelligence and wealth, and to be patient with powerful opponents. All these are qualities to be found in Georgia, a country in love with its history and proud of its roots.