Visit Kutaisi: discover the secrets of the second city of Georgia

Visit Kutaisi

utaisi is the second city in size of Georgia and throughout its history has been the capital of the western half of the country, and also of all Georgia during part of the Middle Ages. Today, it is hosting the nation’s Parliament, which occupies an avant-garde building inaugurated in May 2012, and the administrative center of the Imereti region. It has about 200,000 inhabitants and it is well connected by road and railway.

More info for tourists in Kutaisi

Its airport offers international connections to Ukraine, Russia, and Poland. The river Rioni divides it in two and the old town, which offers good walks between noble buildings and it is settled into its east bank. It is a city full of history and the Bagrati Cathedral is one its jewels, which is standing on top of a hill and it is visible from different points.

History

Kutaisi shows off a glorious past. It is believed that it was inhabited almost 4,000 years ago and that the Greeks established a colony here in the seventh century B.C. Some experts point out that even the legendary king who hid the Golden Fleece, Eetes de Qutaea, was actually Eetes de Kutaisi and that Jason and his Argonauts could get here by climbing the Rioni River with their ship.

Putting assumptions aside, it became the administrative center of Colchis in the third century B.C. In addition, it was the capital of Georgia until 1122 during the process of unification of the country. Due to its strategic location, it was in the spotlight of the great empires, such as the Mongol and the Ottoman, who invaded it on several occasions.

Until the creation of the State of Israel, it hosted a large Jewish community. The result was the creation of the Jewish quarter and its synagogues. The largest of them could hold up to 500 worshipers. During the Soviet period, it became the second industrial pole of the country and it is still very important today.

What see in Kutaisi?

Bagrati Cathedral

Opening Hours: from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The Cathedral of Bagrati is the icon of the city. It is a World Heritage Site together with Gelati Monastery and you can see it from various points of the downtown of Kutaisi, as it is standing on the Ukimerioni hill. King Bagrati III built it and the works were completed in 1003. Since then it has become a masterpiece of Georgian religious architecture of the Middle Ages.

In 1692 an explosion, caused by the Ottoman troops during a siege, provoked the dome and the roof to collapse. Recently the authorities have subjected it to a controversial reconstruction process that led UNESCO to incorporate it into its list of endangered heritage.

The ruins of the palace are right next to it and the citadel standing next to it and that dated from the 6th century. It remained in that state after the intense bombing of the joint army of Georgians and Russians to recover the city from the hand of the Turks.

 

Parliament of Kutaisi

In May 2012 the nation’s Parliament moved from Tbilisi to Kutaisi and it occupied a spectacular avant-garde building created by the Spanish Alberto Domingo Cabo. It is an impressive glass dome of 100×150 meters that has seven floors and a snail shape. It is two miles from the downtown of Kutaisi and you can see it from the mountains surrounding the city.

It was raised as a symbol of the rebirth of a new Georgia and to give greater visibility to the second city of the country. However, many people criticized that decision for the waste of money that it entailed and the inefficiency of having the heart of sovereignty in one city, when the rest of the country’s institutions are in another.

If you are a modern architecture lover, there are guided tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays at 12:00, 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. If you want to book a place with an English guide, you should do it a couple of days in advance. You can call +995 32 228 16 90 or send an email to tours@parliament.ge for more information, you can check out parliament.ge

History Museum of Kutaisi

  • Address: 18 Pushkin Street.
  • Phone: +995 431 24 56 91.
  • Summertime: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Price: 3 GEL.

    You have to visit it in Kutaisi. It has a collection of 200,000 works and objects of which only 5% are exposed. Most of them have been found in the western part of Georgia. They have an interesting exhibition of archaeological material, jewels, deities, weapons of the Bronze Age, Christian icons of the Middle Ages, manuscripts, musical instruments, and traditional costumes. It is one of the most complete centers in the country.

Kutaisi surroundings

The Cave of Prometheus

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Entry: 20 GEL. Boat trip: 15 GEL.

To visit the Cave of Prometheus is to enter a surreal world where the silence and the whimsical shapes that nature has created over thousands of years running free with their creativity to the most fantastic minds. If we add to this the creativity of the man who through a spectacle of light and color has enhanced the strange silhouettes of each stalactite and stalagmite, the result is a work of art of almost 1.2 miles long.

The crowning glory is marked by walking through the subterranean lake of the cave, which is 400 meters (1312 feet tall). Although you can only visit a small part of the cavity, the Prometheus is one of the deepest caves in Europe (12 and 18 miles). It was discovered in 1984 and it has not yet been fully explored.

How do you get there? It is in the village of Kumistavi (13 miles.). If you want to get there, you have to take the minibus heading towards Tskaltubo that leaves from the top of the red bridge of Kutaisi. Once at the Tskaltubo station, you have to change to the marshrutka 42 that leaves around 11:00, 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. (you should confirm it at the tourist office).

The same vehicle will take you back to Tskaltubo, where there is quite frequent transportation to Kutaisi. The other option is to negotiate the price with a taxi driver.

Sataplia Nature Reserve

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Price: 15 GEL.

It covers an area of ​​354 hectares of a forest of the old Colchis on the outskirts of Kutaisi. It has less spectacular caves than Prometheus. There are dozens of dinosaur tracks over 120 million years old, adorned with reproductions of these animals.

To get there, there are marshrutkas from Kutaisi leaving on weekdays from Lermontov Street but they are not very reliable since they only startup if they are full of people. Therefore, the best option is to take a round trip taxi while waiting for one hour (15 GEL).

 

Gelati Monastery

The monastery is one of the greatest exponents of the Golden Age of medieval Georgia (1089-1213), the period in which the country shined with its own light and it was considered a power of the Middle East. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site not only because of its mosaics, murals or architecture but because it was one of the greatest cultural centers of the time.

King David IV built it and the works were completed in 1106. In 1510 the Turks set fire to it. Restoration work began in the same century and lasted until the 18th century. It became the residence of the Catholics of the west of the country and here is the tomb of one of the greatest monarchs of Georgia, protagonist of the unification of the country and promoter of Gelati: David IV, The Builder. It is said that the tombstone is of the same stature.

The complex is made up of the cathedral dedicated to the Virgin, Saint George, and Saint Nicholas Church, the Academy Building, the bell tower, and the walls. It is located on a wooded hill, 6 miles from Kutaisi. If you want to get there, there are minibusses leaving from the back of the Kutaisi Theater at 8:00, 11:00, 2:00, 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. Then, the same transport returns to Kutaisi, although people usually take advantage to visit the Motsameta Monastery on the way back.

Motsameta Monastery

It is 3 miles from Gelati. The chosen place for its construction giving a lot of peace. It is surrounded by forests and the site rises on a cliff overlooking the Skaltsitela River. The temple is dedicated to Saints David and Konstantine, two feudal lords who were captured by the Arab army of Murwan the Deaf in 735 and who were tortured to death to abdicate their faith.

Their bodies were thrown into the Rioni River but during the night a miracle happened: the bodies of the saints appeared to their servants and a voice from Heaven told them to bury them in this place. Every October 2 the people of the Imereti region spend the night in Motsameta to see the rays of the sun at dawn reflected in the river and they make a wish.

It is barely six kilometers from the Gelati monastery and many people walk the path. If you want to go back Kutaisi you can share a taxi (7GEL) or you can go to the main road and wait for some marshrutka to go to the city.

Practical information

Address: 9A Rustaveli Avenue.

Opening Hours: from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (winter), from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (summer).

Phone: +995 431 24 11 03.

E-mailtickutaisi@gmail.com

Very professional and efficient staff. They are very helpful and they give you all kinds of information. It is provisionally located within the Town Hall.

Marshrutkas leaving from the bus station (67 Chavchavadze Street)

  • Kutaisi-Tbilisi. Every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (10 GEL).
  • Kutaisi-Akhaltsikhe. 8:20, 9:30, 11:30, 1:00 p.m. (13 GEL).
  • Kutaisi-Zugdidi. They leave practically every hour from 6:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (7 GEL).
  • Kutaisi-Gori. There are no direct marshrutkas. If you want to go to Gori, you have to take the marshrutka to Tbilisi. It will drop you off on the highway, 5 km (3 miles) away from the downtown of Gori. You can walk or take a taxi from there.
  • Kutaisi-Batumi. Every hour from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (10 GEL).
  • Kutaisi-Mestia. At 9:00 a.m. although if there are enough passengers, they keep on leaving more and more. (25 GEL)

Train

  • Kutaisi-Tbilisi. There are three trains a day.
  • Kutaisi-Batumi. There is a daily train.
  • Kutaisi-Zugdidi: there is a train at noon.
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