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The Tbilisi History Museum

The Museum of the History of Tbilisi (or Carvasla) ( 11am-5pm Tue-Sun), housed in an old caravanserai, includes some wonderfully evocative photographs of pre-Soviet Tbilisi and montages of old artisans’ workshops.

The 19th-century caravanserai was built on the site of a 17th-century building that served the same purpose but was destroyed by Agha Mohammed Khan during his invasion. European in exterior design, the building conforms to the Middle Eastern requirements for the interior of such a structure: a large inner courtyard with a fountain is surrounded by three tiers of galleries.

The basement area, which had housed stables and warehouses, is now lined with small shops, a cafe, and a historical exhibition. The museum on the other two floors contains more than 50,000 items that represent a vast, well-displayed overview of the city's history from its founding to the present. Coins, weapons, clothing, domestic implements, portraits, furniture, carpets, tools, and musical instruments provide great insights into the daily lives of the Georgian people in general and the citizens of Tbilisi in particular.

Here you can see a range of interesting exhibits, from 4,500-year-old ceramics from Avlabari, through lOth-century manuscripts, to photographs of 19th-century Tbilisi and dingy models of balconied houses and churches in old Tbilisi. The bulk of the text is only in Georgian, but captions are also in Russian and English. The upper floor (presumably once displaying the history of communist Tbilisi) now houses temporary exhibits, offices and empty rooms, much like the damp-smelling basement.