Kutaisi: Heart of Georgia
Today I’m off to Kutaisi from Batum. The city of Kutaisi is actually not very known. The people visiting Georgia generally don’t get beyond Batum. Many of people who keep going get the capital city of Tbilisi in no time flat. Kutaisi is the second largest city of Georgia. It is about 148 km away from Batum and about 221 km away from Tbilisi. Kutaisi was the center of heavy metal industry in the Soviet Union era. At that time, the population was about 700 thousands, but now it is only about 200 thousands. Rioni River crosses in the middle of the Kutaisi city. The city is a really greenish one which was established in between both sides of the river.
Morning, 07:00… In order to visit Kutaisi, the old capital of Georgia, I depart from the hostel in Batum. I learned the spot of the minibuses going to Kutaisi yesterday. There are minibuses from Batum to Kutaisi in every hour. The trip takes 2 hours and 15 minutes and costs 15 Laris. The road between Batum and Kutaisi is extremely bad. While I was planning my visit to Georgia, I was thinking of using CouchSurfing in some possible places. Unfortunately, I could not find any CS in Batum and Kutaisi either. Therefore I’ll stay in Hostel Relax in Kutaisi which I also reserved on Booking.com. Depending on your choice, the accomodation fees can be either cheap or expensive. That fee in Hostel Relax that I preferred in Kutaisi was 9 dollars.
I could not find anyone who would host me in the guest house but Magda who came to the city 20 days ago with exchange program said that she could show me the city if I want. We agree on meeting near the gold-colored pool in the city square. After getting off the Kutaisi bus, I take the bus number 1 for the fountain in the city center where I will meet Magda. You can pay by cash for buses, noone asked for any cards or something. After meeting Magda, we’ll go to the hostel and leave my luggage there. The hostel is in a very close location to where I met Magda. After leaving my luggage at the hostel, we get back to the city center to eat something.
Magda came to Kutaisi from Czech Republic with the voluteering program. She will work here volutarily for 1 year and learn Georgian. Exchange program provides her a place to stay and the Georgian language course. And of course a little pocket money too. Since she stays with a Georgian family, she can not have me as a guest in her house. But that is not a problem. I have just 1 day and touring the city with someone who knows the city well is enough for me.
Places to visit in Kutaisi;
- Cityscape with Telpher
- Opera and Old Post Office Building
- Colchis Fountain
- White Bridge
- Gelati Monastery
- Bagrati Cathedral
- Kutaisi Market
Unfortunately it starts to rain when we come to the city center with Magda. We go to the cafe across the theater building. They have very tasty desserts. We wait for the rain to slow down but it gets … As a person who can not stay long in the same place, I offer her to go to another place. And we decide to go to another cafe. Tea Cafe Foe Foe is certainly a must-visit place. There is only tea in the menu as drinks. But there may be 100 different tea types. Interior design is pretty interesting too.
Address: Rustaveli St. 5 (In the corner just across the opera building)
Working Hours: 10:00-00:00
Opera and Old Post Office Building
After eating something, we get past the opera building across the cafe and then the old and neglected post office. And we move on to get on the telpher. The rain starts to slow down.
White Bridge is located in the center of Kutaisi. The birdge is one of the most touristic places. Its construction began in 1872. Its white railing is harmonious with the white stones of Rioni river. The houses by the river remind me of Amasya, Turkey
Cityscape with Telpher
We get on the telpher above the Rioni river and climb to a higher place where we can see Kutaisi. Telpher is not very crowded, it is still raining. The telpher is pretty old, therefore I would be lying if I said that I was not scared. It is pretty neglected. I guess that it was built in the Soviet Russia era. I pay 3 Laris as telpher round trip fee.
After the rain stopped, we tour the streets of Kutaisi. The fruit and vegetable fees are a little bir cheaper than ours and the people are really poor. In the streets, the black dresses of old people catch my attention. When I ask the reason of that, I learn that they wear these for mooning about the dead people. The streets are pretty clean. You could see old women aged 60 or 70 cleaning the streets. The city is pretty neglected and there are too many ruined buildings. But it is a nice city.
Colchis fountain is surprisingly beautiful. It is located in the center square of the city. It was opened on 2nd May, 2012. Georgian jewelers made large scale copies of goats and sheep.
The name of the sculpture at the top of the fountain is ‘Tamada’. Tamada is a historical artifact which has been found during archaeological excavation in Vani, a city close to Kutaisi.
While touring the streets of Kutaisi, we meet a friend of Magda. After a little chat, he says that they will be performing live music and invites us to their place for dinner. We say “OK” and we agree for the night.
It is a wonder of Georgian architecture. It is 11 km away from Kutaisi. Gelati Monastery was built in a forestland which is on the top of the valley in which Chalcitela river flows near Kutaisi. The monastery is surrounded by a high stonewall. Its construction was started by King IV. David (1089–1125) in 1106 and was completed by King Demetrius (1125–1156), the son of David, in 1130.
Kgelati Monastery has become a political and cultural center in a short time and is also funerary place of many Georgian kings. In 1994, the monastery was added to th world cultural heritage list by UNESCO.
Dormition Cathedral or Bagrati Cathedral is one of the most touristic places in Kutaisi. It was built in 1003 in the era of King Bagrat III. The cathedral dominates Ukimerioni Hill, on the right side of the Rioni river, and offers a great cityscape. Bagrati Cathedral is one of the masterpieces of middle age Georgian architecture.
The cathedral has hosted coronations of many kings. After their deaths, their bodies have been buried here. There is a 8 meter deep well in the cathedral’s courtyard. It is said that Georgians use these wells to cool the wines. It takes 10 minutes to walk here from the city center. Bagrati Cathedral was added to UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list in 1994.
After we walked in the streets of Kutaisi a little more, we go to the restaurant that we are invited. We eat our dinner and drink our beers accompanied by live music. In the evening, Magda takes me to my hostel. I thank her for this beautiful day and we say goodbye to eachother.
The owner of the hostel is a sweet woman aged 65. As soon as enter the hostel, she asks me how my day was and if I would drink tea and we begin to chat. She is a good fan of Turkish TV series. She does not forget to ask questions about the series she watched.
Besides me, there are a Chinese girl and an Ukranian couple in the hostel. I ask to the hostel owner how to go to the airport tomorrow. She says: “Ukranian couple also will go to the airport. Let me ask them. If your flight times are similar, you can take the same taxi together. So you can share the taxi fee.” Fortunately, I have the same plane with the Ukranian couple. Taksi işini hallettikten sonra yatıyorum. In the morning, the hostel owner calls us a taxi. The fee for taxi is 25 Laris. The airport is 30 km away from Kutaisi. After finishing airport procedures, I wait for the plane’s departure time. Next destination is the city of Kyiv which I will visit for the first time.