Crossing the Metekhi Bridge from the old town is one of the most noticeable structures in Tbilisi. Sitting on the top of the cliff overlooking the Mtkvari River is the Metekhi Church. It’s the oldest church in Avlabari, built in 1279 and reconstructed in the 1980s. It sits on the site of the original 5th century palace and church of Georgian King Vakhtang Gorgasali, which was destroyed by the Mongols in 1235. The statue in front of the church is of the king. I didn’t get a chance to visit the church because it was under renovation.
From there, I walked uphill past some interesting buildings until I reached the Echmiadzin Cathedral, an 18th century Armenian church. To actually get to the church, I had to use an underpass to cross a very busy road with speeding traffic. Once on the other side, I stopped inside the church for a few minutes to thaw out.
My next stop was the massive Sameba Cathedral complex, which was completed in 2004. The complex contains the main cathedral for the Georgian Orthodox Church and the residence of the Georgian Patriarch. The cathedral is the 3rd tallest Orthodox church in the world and the biggest in Georgia.
The cavernous interior sees pious Orthodox Christians venerating icons and lighting candles. There’s a whole other church underneath the main one, which I found very impressive. Also on the grounds are nine different chapels.
Finally, I kind of wandered around the streets as I found my way downhill to cross the bridge back into old town. I walked by the Presidential Palace, which was completed in 2009, and a few interesting old buildings. The best views of the Presidential Palace are from the other side of the river.
As I crossed the bridge from Avlabari back to Old Tbilisi, I got some great views of the Narikala Fortress and the Tbilisi riverfront.