Most likely you’ve never heard of the spectacular Chronicle of Georgia monument in Tbilisi. It took me a few trips to Georgia to learn about it, and then few more travels to Tbilisi to finally visit the Chronicle of Georgia. Once I got there, I was speechless, and not only because I couldn’t catch my breath after the horrendous journey to the monument (more on that later). This place is enormous and extremely impressive! How come not many people know about it?
What is the Chronicle of Georgia?
The Chronicle of Georgia monument in Tbilisi was designed by the well-known local artists Zurab Tsereteli to commemorate 3000 years of Georgian sovereignty and 2000 years of Christianity in Georgia. The works started in 1985 and were never finished, the monument is still partly under construction, I could see some scaffolding but any workers around.
16 massive pillars show the history of Georgia and its rulers as well as the scenes from the life of Jesus. The Chronicle of Georgia is often referred to as “Georgian Stonehenge,” but since I’ve never been to the original one, I can’t say how accurate this is. However, I must admit I don’t really like this comparison. This place is so spectacular it doesn’t deserve to be in the shadow of more popular monuments.
Visiting the Chronicle of Georgia
With so many awesome things to do in Tbilisi, the Chronicle of Georgia was one of the highlights of the city for me. It’s weird and quirky but at the same time beautiful. The monument is so massive you feel really tiny when wandering around, and the pillars are so rich in decorations you don’t really know where to look at.
I spent about 30 minutes there, more than most of the people, but the site was so fascinating I had to check every single detail.
The entrance to the site is free of charge, there is also no wall or fence, so I assume it’s open 24/7. Besides the pillars, you can also find the small church dedicated to St. Nino (the most important Georgian saint who brought Christianity to the country). From this side of the monument, you can also admire the beautiful view of the impressive Tbilisi Sea as well as see some residential areas.
The memorial is getting more and more popular (well, for a reason) – while all the reports I found online said there was no one around, during my visit at the Chronicle of Georgia, in the midday in February there were 6 other tourists (3+2+1). But you don’t need to be afraid tourists will overrun the site, it’s not likely to happen.
How NOT to get to the Chronicle of Georgia
Now, there are easy ways how to get to the Chronicle of Georgia in Tbilisi, but of course, I had to opt for the worst possible one. Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes and will choose better.
Before leaving the hotel, I checked maps on how to get to the Chronicle of Georgia. It looked like the nearest metro station is Guramishvili, some 2 km away from the monument. I’m good at walking, I like walking, and 2 km seemed like a perfect distance. I checked on maps.me to confirm the way, and it indeed showed me the same way, with the information that the altitude change is 177 meters.
Now that was my biggest mistake of the day. For some reason, I checked the way from the Chronicle of Georgia to metro station, not the opposite direction. When I arrived at the metro station and saw this uphill, I was considering to turn back.
I’m in a really bad shape, 177 meters altitude change is a lot for me, but I don’t like to quit. I can basically get everywhere I want to, even if it requires a lot of swearing and “photo stops” that are in fact necessary to catch my breath.
It wasn’t easy, and the worst part was actually through the streets which felt a bit embarrassing when locals passed me. Once I got to the hillside, it was still steep, but I could see the Chronicle of Georgia on top, and it wasn’t too far away.
But maps.me told me to do a little circle around and since it never disappointed me before I followed the route, even if already then I was considering just going straight up. Shortly after it seemed like I lost the track and was just going uphill on the gravel road, even if I was supposed to turn left (but there was no path to be seen). I figured I can as well use the way, it was on the map too, but a bit higher I found out there is a fence in the middle of it.
I had no other choice but to turn back and only then when I was going down, I’ve noticed a tiny, narrow path, with a barbed wired fence on one side and small scarp on the other. I’ve decided to go this way anyway, even if to say I felt uncomfortable is the understatement of the year.
After a minute or three, I figured there is no way I can continue with this path and decided just to go uphill whichever way felt right. And actually, there was some sort of path going through the middle of the hill. It reminded me a bit of Sarajevo and how I was going down from the bobsled track to the city (my legs hated me for this for the next few days).
There were moments when I was cursing myself for the decision to visit the Chronicle of Georgia in the first place (I often hate myself for my unusual travel choices when I visit weird sites, it happened to me in Tskaltubo, Georgia too, which I loved by the way), I doubted many of my life decisions at that time.
The soil was a bit slippery at times but still could have been worse if it was snowing or raining recently, or if I visited the place in the middle of the summer when it’s insanely hot in Georgia. The good thing was I focused so much on not rolling down the hill that I forgot to be tired from the hike and rather quickly I found myself on top of the mountain.
And when I thought I’ve reached the Chronicle of Georgia, there were a gazillion stairs (well, around a hundred) still to take to the monument. I wanted to cry, really, but after taking a rest for a bit, I conquered the stairs with the little dignity I had left. And actually, after this whole hike up it wasn’t as exhausting as I expected.
So, to sum it up: don’t even think of taking the metro to Guramishvili and walking to the monument from there. It’s exhausting, it’s challenging, it’s also a bit dangerous, and there are better ways to get to the Chronicle of Georgia. I mean, you can do it but why repeating my mistakes?
How to get to the Chronicle of Georgia the proper way
Instead, you can go to the Chronicle of Georgia the proper way. Take the metro to Ghrmaghele station and once you go out to take the bus no 60 to the bus stop at the bottom of the Chronicle of Georgia, some 500 meters away from the monument itself (it is clearly seen from the street). The bus departs from the same side of the road as you exit the metro station. It runs infrequently, you can find the schedule here.
The journey from the metro station to the monument takes around 20 minutes. The public transport card you use for metro is valid here as well, just put in on top of the ticket machine and collect the print ticket. I took this bus on the way back from the Chronicle of Georgia, and it worked just fine for me.
Or, you can take Yandex Taxi (a local Uber) from wherever you want to. I checked from my hotel near Liberty Square, and it quoted me the price 7-9 lari (the distance is around 9 km).
Everything works just like with Uber, with the difference that you have the option to pay by card or cash. I was first considering taking Yandex Taxi, but I didn’t get the internet data this time I’m in Georgia.
You can also take the taxi but not many of the drivers know the place, and you need to bargain a bit for the price (which will be higher than Yandex anyway).
More about the architect of the Chronicle of Georgia – Zurab Tsereteli
Now, it’s worth to say a bit more about the author Zurab Tsereteli as he is a somewhat famous and controversial person. I didn’t know much about him either, and now I’m a bit fascinated.
Even if he was born and raised in Georgia he soon moved to Russia and most of his work life is connected with Moscow. Since 1997 he’s been the President of the Russian Academy of Arts, one of the most prominent cultural institutions in the world. His numerous works can be found all over the world: in the United States, Spain, Puerto Rico, Russia or France. Not only he is known for his sculptures, but he is also a great painter.
You can see some of his paintings in the Tbilisi Museum of Modern Art named after Tserateli. It’s located on Rustaveli Avenue, next to the Opera, and I definitely recommend visiting it. I enjoyed the museum a lot, it was so interesting to see more of Tsurateli’s monumental works (he is actually known for this style) as well as see lots of random pictures from his life.
The golden statue of St. George in the middle of the Liberty Square was also made by Zurab Tsurateli and was his gift to the city. There are also numerous other sculptures around the city made by him.
Is it worth to visit the Chronicle of Georgia?
Yes, yes and yes, it’s worth all the effort! No matter which option you chose, the Chronicle of Georgia is a spectacular place and a perfect alternative to all the churches and beautiful architecture of Old Tbilisi. You should definitely try to squeeze it into your Tbilisi itinerary, you won’t regret it!
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