Tbilisi – an ancient and vibrant capital city of Sakartvelo situated on the both banks of Mtkvari River and surrounded by mountains from three sides. The city was destroyed and rebuilt more than 26 times and its cobblestoned old town reflects a long, complicated history, with periods under Persian and Russian rule. Its diverse architecture encompasses Eastern Orthodox churches, ornate art nouveau buildings and Soviet Modernist structures.
Locals tells the legend of how Tbilisi was founded and says that in the mid-5th century AD, King Vakhtang I Gorgasali was hunting in the heavily wooded region with a falcon. The King's falcon allegedly caught or injured a pheasant during the hunt, after which both birds disappeared. As it was the most favorite falcon of King Vakhtang he searched for it and found it in a hot spring. Reaching for the bird he put his hands in hot water and saw that scratches from the hunt are healing. He became so impressed with the hot springs that he decided to cut down the forest and build a city. The name Tbilisi derives from the Old Kartvelian word "tbili", meaning warm. Archaeological studies of the region indicate human settlement in the area early as the 4th millennium BC.
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