KUTAISI, GEORGIA - Kutaisi, the second largest city in Georgia after Tbilisi, is certainly worth a visit. Kutaisi is located in mid-west Georgia, in the region of Imereti. It is thought to have been the capital of Colchis, the location of the palace of king Aeetes, from the famous legend of the Argonauts.
Kutaisi has a typical atmosphere. Although there are modern buildings and infrastructure, the place somehow makes you feel what Georgia must have been like in the nineteenth century and before. There is enough to see and do in and around Kutaisi for all.
Here are the top 5 tips for your visit to Kutaisi.
Walk around the city
Although you have to cover some distance to see all the sights, Kutaisi is a pleasant city to walk around in. It has many parks, squares and a palm boulevard that is beautifully lit in the evening. The river Rioni flows through the heart of Kutaisi. West of the city center you will find the brand-new building of the Georgian parliament.
Sports and amusement
For those who dare, Kutaisi offers rafting opportunities. Equally spectacular, but somewhat safer, is the dinosaur theme park that has recently been opened next to the Sataplia cave complex. In the complex, real dinosaur footprints are on display. In the caves you can see impressive karst structures.
Two medieval Georgian orthodox churches stand out as landmarks near Kutaisi: the Gelati and the Bagrati cathedrals. In the entrance to the Gelati cathedral, the famous Georgian king Davit the Builder is buried. Inside the cathedral you can see a fresco of him and the famous queen Tamar. Both Davit and Tamar united and ruled Georgia in its ‘Golden Age’ in the 11th and 12th centuries. The magnificent Bagrati cathedral was in ruins since 1692, but it has recently been restored to its original glory. Other points of interest are the Motsameta monastery and the remains of the Geguti palace.
History, art and culture
For lovers of history, art and culture there are museums to visit in Kutaisi. The most important is the Kutaisi State Historical Museum, but there are also art galleries and some special interest museums like the Museum of Sport and the Museum of Martial Arts. Cultural institutions in Kutaisi include the Academic Theatre and the Opera House. There is also a Puppet Theatre. Kutaisi has always played an important role for Georgian cinema, so you are likely to find references and activities to this throughout the town. And make sure you see a traditional Georgian dance performance while you are there.
Food and wine
Finally, Georgia is known for its food and wine. So while you are in Kutaisi, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a traditional Georgian restaurant. Hundreds of original wine varieties are produced in Georgia. In fact, Georgia is considered to be the place where wine-making was invented in pre-historic times. And if you don’t have time for a feast, at least make sure you order the Imeretian version of khachapuri, the popular Georgian cheese bread.