Saburtalo

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February 13, 2020

Saburtalo

By Misho Zguladze

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February 13, 2020

One of the most prestigious and densely populated residential neighborhoods, Saburtalo became a part of Tbilisi only in 1917. The area, which was often used for various ball games, was given the same name Saburtalo, meaning “ball-playing area”.

Saburtalo is a largely residential district, with very few historical sights. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth seeing. Let’s start with the most important streets and then move on to more specific locations. The two main streets are Pekini St. and Vazha-Pshavela Avenue. Both are pretty long and busy streets, packed with various venues on both sides, except Pekini is in better shape and has bicycle lanes.  That said, now let’s move on to some sites that deserve at least a single visit.

Tbilisi Zoo

There are over 300 different types of animals, native to the Caucasian region and other parts of the world. To be honest, the living conditions are not the best and its location only makes it worse for the welfare of the animals. 

Heroes Square

 

Hero's Square in Tbilisi, Georgia

✱ Heroes Square, Tbilisi

A 50m high column has more than 4,000 names of Georgians carved on its sides. These are people who fell while protecting the territorial integrity of Georgia throughout the years.

Recreational Areas

There are several parks in the area but the favorite spot for locals is, undoubtedly,  Lisi Lake, where you can get away from the traffic noise. Also, the area of the old hippodrome is a great place to get a bit of an evening breeze on hot summer days, walk a dog, or even jog.

 

Lisi Lake

Lisi Lake recreational area.

✱ Lisi Lake recreational area. 

The lake is one of the most popular resting places for picnics, water sports, and fishing. Additionally, a sulfur bath is also located nearby.

Infrastructure is arranged around the lake: Walking and cycling paths (if you don’t have a bike, you can rent one on the spot), open type cafe-bars, children’s entertainment and sports entertainment spaces. Also, there is a climbing wall for children. You can sunbathe at the beach by the lake on a sunny day.

Vaso Godziashvili’s Red Garden

✱ Vaso Godziashvili’s Red Garden

The park gets many visitors all the time and when you visit, you’ll see why. It’s kids and pets friendly. Just great for outdoor activities, relaxation and cooling off in hot weather. Fountain, outdoor fitness facilities and kids’ playground are definitely adding value. Unlike many other parks, it is being taken care of regularly, so it’s one of the neatest and cleanest parks. A pleasant place to relax with plenty of benches under shady trees. The park is not large but does contain a circular path that can be used for jogging and several bicycle paths.

The best part is that there is one paid and fully automated toilet.

Don’t think that Saburtalo is devoid of interesting architecture. In fact, it houses several notable pieces of Soviet architecture.

Architecture

Bank of Georgia Headquarters

Bank of Georgia Headquarters, Tbilisi, Georgia

✱ Bank of Georgia Headquarters

The design of this 18-story building is based on a concept named Space City method The idea is to use and cover less ground and give the space below the building back to nature. This concept has strong connections to Structuralism.

Now, the style, going back to Russian Constructivists, can be called “post-constructivist” and it is one of the best examples of this architectural concept in the city. Based on the use of fair-faced concrete and the sharp, geometrical volumes, the building can also be considered as an example of the Brutalist-architecture movement.

Former Archaeology Museum

✱ Former Archaeology Museum, Tbilisi 

This one may look like a shrine (it certainly does to me), but it’s just the former Museum of Archeology. The museum building itself is perfectly symmetrical (other than the odd bits crumbling off its edges), and rises out of the ground quite gracefully. There is a great square bas-relief at the building’s apex featuring some abstract soviet motif and underneath some fantastic Georgian typography that reads “Archaeology.” The real treat of the building was in the back end, where you could enter one of the museum’s old exhibition halls. 

Former Auditorium of the Industrial Technical College

✱ Former Auditorium of the Industrial Technical College 

There’s something about Soviet/Modernist auditorium/cinema design that just gets me going: these architects knew how to combine style and functionality in their designs. This is the Industrial Technical College, or, was at least. Today it’s a neglected dumpster and a shelter for homeless people.

This particular auditorium, with its extremely ornate exterior decorations, toed the line between modernist and futurist, though to be fair there is a significant overlap in the Venn diagram of those two styles. Unfortunately, half of these exterior decorations are gone now.

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