The history of Vake, which means a lowland, starts from the nineteenth century, as a small settlement on the territory of Old Vera.
In the Development plan of Tbilisi from 1906, only the Nobility Gymnasium building is mentioned in this area (currently the 1st building of Tbilisi State University). Then Tbilisi Spiritual Seminary was built not far from the gymnasium, where Stalin studied, by the way. Now it is one of the clinics of Tbilisi State Medical University (formerly the 9th Hospital).
Since January 1906 Vake was incorporated into the area of Tbilisi. Intensive construction began in the 1920s, so you could say this is a fairly new neighborhood.
People who were connected with the political or scientific elite of Georgia were the first inhabitants of Vake in the early days. Now it’s kind of an elite neighborhood, and there are still jokes about the fanciness of “Vakeli” people.
✱ Axis Towers, Tbilisi. Photo by Gocha Nemsadze.
Currently, Vake is one of the largest residential areas of Tbilisi. There are many high schools, research centers, administrative institutions, etc. Ilia Chavchavadze Avenue, the ever-bustling wide avenue is the main artery of the district.
You will find all sorts of venues here: clothing stores, shopping centers, bars, cafes, restaurants, perfumery shops, parks, hotels, salons, etc. Besides, Vake is a beautiful area with a mixture of fancy modern and soviet buildings on both sides of its streets. If you are more into the Soviet-style, definitely take a stroll through Paliashvili Street.
Vake also has plenty of recreational areas to offer.
✱ Vake Park, Tbilisi.
In 1946, Vake Park (formerly Victory Park) opened to the public. It is the biggest park in the city and a prime example of Socialist park, complete with a grand entrance and huge stairs leading up to the grave of the Unnamed Soldier and then to the People’s Monument (a statue of a woman).
Many workers died during the construction of the statue, which is ironic because presumably it was meant to be a woman grieving for those who died in World War II.
It is a great park, just keep in mind that this is not a tourist attraction, instead, thanks to fanfare and restaurants, it is a great place to relax and escape from the traffic and noise.
Mziuri Park is another oasis located amidst the concrete jungle. It was the dream of a prominent Georgian writer Nodar Dumbadze that when the original Mziuri park was constructed and opened in 1982 that it should be a park for children, and a place for relaxation. Its name “Mziuri” was also his idea, meaning “sunny”. Its entrance is located on Chavchavadze Avenue.
It’s hard to miss because right at the entrance you will see some funny sculptures and a twisting staircase decorated with stones at each side and leading deep into the park. And a little farther the visitors are met by the characters from Dumbadze’s novel “Me, Grandma, Iliko, and Ilarioni”.
✱ Mziuri Park, Tbilisi.
There are many different sculptures, oddly shaped staircases and comfortable benches in the park, as well as many playgrounds for children of different ages. The writer’s grave which was once in the park has been moved to the Pantheon on Mtatsminda mountain.
In 2015 the park was destroyed by a flood that swept through the Vere valley and claimed 19 lives. Thousands of volunteers got together to assist with the cleaning works and the park reopened in a few months. Even if you don’t have children you should still visit this park.
Other places that are worth checking out are the Museum of Ethnography and Turtle lake. The museum is located west of the lake on a hill overlooking the Vake district. It is essentially a historic village populated by buildings that have been relocated from various areas of the country.
Not many historic buildings have survived in the countryside. So, the museum is the only place where you can see how people used to live not so long ago. The walk in the park is very pleasant and each house has a guide who can answer your questions in English. Less than an hour walk (or like 5 minutes car ride) along the road will bring you to Turtle Lake.
✱ Museum of Ethnography, Tbilisi.
It can be described as one of the most beloved places for the locals to go around in Tbilisi. Basically, it is a quiet and cozy family-friendly recreational area that offers various kinds of activities. It’s also a good place to get away from everything and chill. You’ll fall in love with the views and the air that fills you with harmony.
And last but not least would be the Round Garden situated almost on the border of Vera and Vake neighborhoods. It is a tiny garden island right in the middle of the city bustle, full of bushes and trees and the fountain of the Little Prince in the middle. By the way, if you are into anthropology, it is a great place to sit and observe who “Vakeli” people actually are.
✱ The round park with the statue of the Little Prince.