The neighborhood that is centered around Marjansivhili Square--where Aghmashenebeli and Marjanishvili Avenues intersect, has one of the most unique backgrounds of Tbilisi’s neighborhoods. During the 18th Century, the neighborhood was a part of the Kukia Forest (today the only reminder that a forest stood here is Kukia Cemetery). This neighborhood was merely a rural village on the edge of Tbilisi. Beginning in 1817, settlers from Germany arrived in Georgia and began to live in this area and then gave the area the name of Neu-Tiflis, or “New Tbilisi,”to the neighborhood. Under Russian Imperial rule, the area was known as Немецкая Колония Nemetskaya Kolonia, or “The German Colony,” and the “German Quarter.” Opening in 1897, an Evangelical Lutheran Church was built in traditional German neo-Gothic architecture on what is now Marjanishvili Avenue, close to Marjansivhili Square. The church was subsequently demolished during Soviet rule in 1946.
The neighborhood first appeared on a map of Tbilisi in 1845 and was officially incorporated under the Viceroy of Caucasia Mikheil Vorontsov in 1862. Following the death of the Russian Marxist Giorgi Plekhanov, what is today Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue was named Giorgi Plekhanov Avenue. In 1990, Plekhanov Avenue was renamed Davit Aghmashenebeli Avenue, after the medieval Georgian king.
It is extremely easy to find this neighborhood on a map of Tbilisi since it is the only neighborhood in central Tbilisi that follows a grid-pattern, perhaps a testament to Germans’ keen sense of organization and structure. Many of the streets that intersect Aghmashenebeli Avenue form large blocks with gardens in the center. Today, two of these gardens have been turned into parks--Jansugh Kakhidze Park and Rose Park.
Despite having a strong German heritage, Aghmashenebeli/Marjanishvili is currently the heart of Tbilisi’s Middle Eastern community. Marjanishvili and Aghmashenebeli Avenues are lined with Turkish and Iranian restaurants, hair salons, and markets. Additionally, there are numerous theaters located on Aghmashenebeli and Marjanishvili Avenues, such as the Nodar Dumbadze Theater, the Kakhidze Music Center, and the Marjanishvili Theater.
First named Michaelstrasse, this thoroughfare is the heart of the neighborhood. Walking down Aghmashenebeli Avenue is like walking down a street in Munich--with most buildings having chalet-style roofs and German-style facades. Most of the buildings in the neighborhood were designed by well-known German architects. From 2010-2011, the section of Aghmashenebeli Avenue that runs from Marjansivhili Square to Tamar Mepe Avenue along with Marjanishvili Square itself was renovated, with the facades restored to their original form, new sidewalks laid, and trees planted. In 2016, Aghmashenebeli Avenue from Marjansivhili to Saarbrucken Squares was renovated, making it a pedestrian-only zone.
Marjanishvili Square is in the center of this neighborhood and is Tbilisi’s second primary square, after Liberty Square. Marjansivhili Square as it is today was built during the Soviet-era. The Sts. Peter-and-Paul Church that was located close to where the McDonald’s is was destroyed in this process. The square is typical of Stalin architecture, combining Gothic, classical, and 20th Century-Modern elements. Today, Marjansivhili square is a popular location for tourists and locals alike, albeit leading to different outcomes. For tourists, the square offers amenities found in many Western countries, such as American fast-food chains, posh cafes, and lovely architecture.
For Georgians, the square represents the forces of gentrification that are overtaking Historic Tbilisi. As such, Marjanishviil Square is a popular location for political rallies held by both nationalists and pro-Western parties since the square represents the benefits and perils of urban renewal projects and increasing globalization.
Fabrika Tbilisi is located in a former Soviet sewing factory-- the word “Fabrika” is the Georgian word for a factory. Today, this space is at the heart of the social change that is coming through Tbilisi; it offers spaces for freelance artists, so-called “co-working” spaces, the largest hostel in the region, and numerous bars, cafes, and other venues that cater to “alternative” attitudes. As such, Fabrika Tbilisi is a hotspot for the city’s liberal-minded youth to be free and expressive.
Jansugh Kakhidze Garden
Jansugh Kakhidze Garden is located on Aghmashenebeli Avenue between Kargarateli and Tovstonogov Streets. The garden was once a private garden used by the residents of the city block which surrounds it. This was a typical feature of this neighborhood. Recently, the garden was renovated, with new fountains, benches, and playgrounds installed. The garden is the perfect place to have a quiet and peaceful escape from the traffic and bustle of Aghmashenebeli Avenue.
Station Square Market
The area around Station Square has numerous indoor and outdoor markets which have everything you could possibly need. The “Trade Center Pasaji” is the largest indoor market and is located at Abastumani and Mghvdeli Streets. Abastumani Street itself is a large outdoor market which has numerous butcheries and bakeries. Running from the Station Square metro entrance at Abastumani Street to Pirosmani Street is a labyrinthine underground market, which sells clothing. The first level of the Tbilisi Central Railway Station has what could easily be called the city’s largest jewelry market, with vendors selling every type of jewelry imaginable. The Tbilisi Central Bazaar is located at Abastumani and Tsinamghvrisvhili Streets and is a large produce market. Finally, Tsabadze Street, which is on the south end of Dinamo Stadium, has a plethora of sports and athletic stores.