Although Vake and Vera grew mostly ouf of the need to house university and professors from Tbilisi State University and the Physics Institute, the neighborhoods diverge in geography, character, and demographics. In Georgian, the word ვაკე vake (pronounced vahk-eh) means “plain.” This neighborhood has been given this name since it is located on a relatively flat plain between Mtatsminda and Ikalto Hill. The neighborhood was first a small settlement on the road that went between Tbilisi and the town of Tsqneti, located in the mountains above Tbilisi. That road would later grow into Chavchavadze Avenue. In 1907 the neighborhood was incorporated into the city. The neighborhood was originally connected to the rest of Tbilisi only by Melikishvili Avenue until the completion of Heroes’ Square in the middle 20th Century. Today, Vake is Tbilisi's wealthiest neighborhood, with many new luxury apartments and offices being constructed, especially in the vicinity of Vake Park.
Vera is named after the Vera River, which starts in the mountains to the west of Tbilisi and drains into the Mtkvari River near Heroes’ Square. The neighborhood is more-or-less a continuum of Mtatsminda, with many of its buildings dating back to the early 20th Century.
Vake Park is located in the western end of Vake on Chavchavadze Ave on the slopes of the Trialeti Range. Construction of the park began in 1946 as a green zone composed of 200 hectares/500 acres. The park has gravel and paved walkways in a spoke-and-hub formation, centered around a large fountain in the middle of the park. At the back of the park is a large statue dedicated to those who died during WWII and a large statue as well.
Turtle Lake is a small lake on the side of the Trialeti Range in the upper portion of Vake Park. There are numerous ways to reach the lake, such as Kus Tba Road (Turtle Lake Road) which runs from Upper Vake to Turtle Lake and then down the side of the mountainside to Cholokashvili Ave, dirt trails that run from Vake Park to the lake, and a rope way that runs from Chavchavadze Ave to the lake. There is a paved trail which completely encircles the lake, a small beach, numerous cafes, and paddle boat rentals.
Open Air Ethnographic Museum
The museum was founded in 1966 and is located on Kus Tba Lake. The museum has fourteen ethnographic areas, representing the regions of Kartli, South Ossetia, Meskheti, Khevsureti, and Kakheti in Central and Eastern Georgia, Abkhazia, Racha, Lechkhumi, Samegrelo, Svaneti, and Imereti in Western Georgia, and Adjara, Guria, Samtskhe, and Javakheti in Southern Georgia. Artifacts include architectural recreations of traditional houses and villages of each region, a collection of clothing and textiles from each region, and folklore artifacts.
The park, formerly known as a “children’s city” was built on the territory of the Vera River valley, between Chavchavadze Ave and the Vera River in 1970. The park has eccentric decorations and pathways, numerous playgrounds, and extensive pathways leading from Vake to the Vera River. In 2015 the lower part of the park was destroyed in a flood, however, restoration work is currently ongoing with plans in place to put in new playgrounds, a new puppet museum, a small lake, pathways, and the renovation of the original park infrastructure.
Located on a plateau between Kostava Street and the Mtkvari River (the main entrance is across from the Tbilisi Concert Hall), the garden was originally a part of palace gardens, but was turned into a public park in 1933. The garden has paved pathways, tennis and basketball courts, and beautiful views of the Mtkvari River and the Marjanishvili neighborhood.