Abanotubani is an integral part of the history of Georgia in general and Tbilisi in particular. Located at the eastern bank of Mtkvari river, Abanotubani is today referred in many names – old city, bath district, historical district and the list goes on. As per legend, King of Iberia Vakhtang Gorgasali made Tbilisi his capital after discovering the hot springs in Abanotubani during one of his hunting expeditions. The hot springs that we see in Abanotubani today stands a testimony to this legend.
The falcon welcomes you to Abanotubani, once again reinforcing the King Vakhtang legend. There is also a small park at the entrance to the historical district. You have plenty of eateries and souvenir shops around inviting you to get a taste of the local fares.
As one enters the old district you will see a lot of old houses that are built on the cliff. What is extraordinary is that these houses have colorfully painted carved wooden balconies. This adds a charm to the whole neighborhood.
Lagvtakhevi, a ravine leads you further into Abanotubani. Follow this ravine and you will be amazed with the hidden treasures that it has in store for you. The first stop would be the love lock bridge where couples leave padlocks proclaiming their love.
Either sides of the ravine has some resting areas as well as souvenir shops catering to the visitors.
The trail ends behind the botanical garden and this is where Abanotubani surprises you with a hidden water fall – yes a waterfall hidden within the old city. I was not expecting such a sight and had left the tripod in the car, a decision that I now regretted. Was difficult to get a good hand held shot of the water fall.
You would also find a mosque in the Abanotubani said to be built in the 19th century. The mosque including the minaret is made of red bricks and is operational even now.
No visit to the Abanotubani is complete without a visit to the sulfur baths that the area is famous for. We decided to continue with the city tour and comeback in the evening for a sulfur bath.
After our day trip covering the city, we came back to Abanotubani to pay a visit to the sulfur baths. You can find a number of baths in the vicinity. We decided to choose a private one which gave you an access to the bath for 1 hour for 120GEL. It was an amazing room rather complex which had a number of rooms – the first one had a massive tub overflowing with the sulfur spring. The pungent smell of sulfur filled the room. It takes you a few minutes to adapt to the warm temperature of the bath. Once you have had your dip you can move to the sauna. Be prepared to cool your body in an ice cold water tank in the next room. This is said to be the traditional process of having sulfur bath.
After a rejuvenating sulfur bath all we needed was a good night’s sleep, we returned back to the hotel and hit the bed. We had a long drive to Kazbegi the next day, more about it later. Signing off for now.
Don’t miss Abanotubani if you are in Tbilisi and do leave your comments!