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Tbilisi Historic District

Date of Submission: 24/10/2007
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sport of Georgia
State, Province or Region:
Cartli Region
Coordinates: N44 49 E41 37
Ref.: 5233
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Tbilisi is a grand sample of Georgian urban heritage, in which an interesting process of adoption of foreign influences penetrating in the course of the centuries, their creative transformation and adaptation to the traditional Georgian dwelling and its planning structure is still alive. Major factor determining a character of the original national culture - geo-political location of Georgia on the cross-roads of Europe and Asia with all consequent historical conditions - had drastically affected Tbilisi, fifteen century old capital of the country, being reflected in its unique artistic and architectural integrity.

Remarkable peculiarity of the city is preconditioned by the active part played by the specific natural setting in the creation of its general aspect and despite significant interventions, original interconnection of the city and environment is still preserved. Narrow portion of the river bed selected for its location, mountain ridge on the right bank of the river destined for the citadel, picturesque rocky plateau on the opposite side, are stressedly perceptible in the general silhouette of the city. Minor structures of the Late Medieval urban fabric provide favourable background to the architectural accents - Narikala fortress and Metekhi church - crowning these monuments of nature.

Great is the historical significance of Tbilisi, permanent capital of the Christian Georgian state from the days of its foundation up to present, "grand city" of the historical Silk Road in the course of centuries, centre of the whole Caucasus from the 19th c. onwards.

Building layers dating to the foundation of the city together with spontaneously developed urban fabric of the feudal epoch, 19th century regular planning, buildings of "Stalin period" (already heritage of the past), all these form intricate city organism reflecting diverse stages in its history, being united by the unique "Tbilisian spirit" and, despite its certain eclectic character, combining it into an organic indivisible integrity.

Main determinant of the city architectural aspect - unique "Tbilisian spirit" and character of residential houses - is formed within its community, being imbued with its characteristic traits; these houses, with their age-old traditional dwelling types, preconditioned emergence of not only mode of life and tastes of always multi-national, free and tolerant in the respect of religious confession, united by the "Georgian habits and behaviour", open-hearted inhabitants of Tbilisi, but also universal warm and human environment, which is highly acceptable and desirable even today. Alongside functional perfection of the traditional dwelling, these houses reflect amazing diversity of the national artistic creativity, which is displayed in their spatial-compositional and artistic-aesthetic aspects. Apart from the unique listed dwellings with superb architectural and decorative rendering, distinction of each structure manifested in the originality of its solution and interrelation with the setting, give birth to numerous unexpected effects, imparting inner life to the city and despite rude disfigurement, still preserve their originality.

A balcony and a courtyard - characteristic elements of the traditional southern dwellings - are turned into indivisible components of Tbilisi dwelling houses, in which possibilities of homogeneous building material - wood and brick - are fully revealed. Interesting "Tbilisian" model of "open dwelling" is elaborated by means of well thought off connection of the courtyards and balconies with the street. Here a balcony had undergone interesting development in the process of adaptation to the common European style façades; the same is the case with the courtyards, which had even penetrated into the Art Nouveau style buildings contributing to the creation of its unforgettable "Tbilisian" samples.

Apart from all mentioned above, organic inter-connection of the city "weaving over" the mountain slope and rocky plateau with the environment, dynamics of outlines of the streets, dwellings, views, ensembles of buildings formed by their planning and spatial-conceptual integrity, multi-layer and diverse urban fabric, which was given birth by the local highly artistic individuality of the city, its cosmopolitan nature and historical destiny - permanent destruction and renovation, all form quite a strange complex of values, turning Tbilisi into a specific urban phenomenon, definitely manifesting its significance.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

One of the main arguments confirming authenticity of the nominated area are diverse evidences provided by the historical sources, as well as notes and drawings of various travellers visiting the city. Different forms of site authenticity are distinctly manifested: authenticity in setting, unique topography and harmonious interrelation with the landscape is preserved.  Likewise preserved are historical views and perspectives. What is most important preserved is urban planning structure and considerable part of urban fabric and accordingly, a city as a homogeneous urban organism is still alive and preserved not in scattered individual buildings, but in its whole entity.

Comparison with other similar properties

Similar to Tbilisi, Signagi (centre of Kiziki, one of the historical provinces of Eastern Georgia) is also developed along a longitudinal axis.  Compared to this charming town with simple urban structure and traditional architecture, relatively unaffected by outward influences, Tbilisi, as an urban property, has definite advantages due to its age-old history, complexity, perfection and significance. Culturally Tbilisi has a resemblance with Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, but the character of Tbilisi architecture is distinguished. As a parallel phenomenon, we can consider the architecture of Bulgarian cities Plovdiv, Ternovo, Nesebr and Melnik. Certain similarity can be found with Turkish and Greek vernacular architecture, with the same system of balconies, especially in rural and monastic architecture. Tbilisi represents the style similar to 19th-20th centuries European architecture with interesting samples of Modern, including interiors.