In the header, the Orbeliani bathhouse, Tbilisi.
According to the legend, the king of ancient Iberia, Vakhtang I Gorgasali, (5th C) once hunted in the forests near the first capital of Georgia – Mtskheta. After some time, he saw a pheasant, then shot and killed the bird. The king sent his falcon to find the prey, but the falcon flew away, and the king lost sight of him. In search of the two birds, the king and his hunters finally found them – in a hot water spring. Amazed with this find of sulphuric hot springs, Vakhtang decided to build his city here.
Thus, according to legend, the city of Tbilisi was founded. The word «Tbilisi» is translated from Georgian as a city of ”warm location”.
Since then, the baths have been of great value to Tbilisi – also depending upon the city’s proximity to the lucrative Silk Road. In the 13th century there were 60 baths here, but today they are reduced to less than 10.
Famous people who took baths here are Alexander Dumas and the poet Alexander Pushkin. A plaque on the entrance to the Orbeliani Baths shows a quote from Pushkin, where he describes the baths as ‘luxurious’. The bathhouse also has got a Pushkin Suite.
Today the baths are still used by many locals, particularly the elderly, who come to benefit from the healing properties of the sulphur. It is said to help in the treatment of eczema, arthritic pain and digestive problems.
We rented a room with a bath, shower and toilet for one hour, but, the heat made us leave after 30 minutes. On leaving, we asked in the reception how hot the water really was – 45 degrees C! Icelandic baths hold 38-42 degrees, no wonder we had to give in…
You are not allowed to walk on the domes… but many children did. And grown-ups taking selfies, of course setting good examples…
If you ever visit Tbilisi, I recommend you try the baths – for the feeling and for the beauty of the interior! If you ask, you might be allowed inside just for a look.