Above: "Italian courtyard" in the Zemeli neighborhood seen during our Insider's Guide tour through Tbilisi, Georgia

Crumbling Buildings, Hidden Courtyards: A Fascinating Tour of Tbilisi

Too often, city tours are merely elaborations of what you can find in any guidebook. In Georgia, I enjoyed having a local show us major Tbilisi sites like the Narikala fortress, the Meidan, the Abanotubani neighborhood and the Metekhi Church, but the experience I’ll never forget was Rooms Hotel Tbilisi’s private Insider’s Guide tour. No urban explorer should miss it.

Our guide, Alexander, spoke excellent English and showed us numerous places we never would have found on our own, starting with a gorgeous, decaying “Italian courtyard” in the Zemeli neighborhood just off grand Rustaveli Avenue. The wooden spiral staircase connecting the multiple stories of balconies, though apparently still in use, was literally falling apart.

Our tour guide, Alexander, standing in the building where Tchaikovsky lived - Photo by Hideaway Report Editor
An "Italian courtyard" in the Zemeli neighborhood of Tbilisi - Photo by Hideaway Report Editor
Pastries from <em>Entrée</em> bakery - Photo by Hideaway Report Editor
The Gabashvili house - Photo by Hideaway Report Editor

In another hidden courtyard off Rustaveli stood the meticulously restored Gabashvili house, its balconies trimmed with complex, lacy gingerbread. Like many other mansions on Rustaveli, it had been slated for demolition. It was saved only by the efforts of Stalin’s private physician, who was married to the owner’s daughter.

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Above: "Italian courtyard" in the Zemeli neighborhood seen during our Insider's Guide tour through Tbilisi, Georgia

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The 5 Best Wine Bars in Tbilisi The Country of Georgia in Panorama Favorite Wineries in Georgia, the Birthplace of Viticulture Indelible Memory: Feasting With a Family in Georgia A Taste of Tbilisi Georgia: An Unpredictable but Exhilarating New Frontier in Travel