Tbilisi Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki 

 

Welcome to your Tbilisi Quest Tour “Stories of Sololaki”!

Thank you for purchasing this amazing experience. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy the Quest. Please kindly read the instructions below, enter the one-time password that you should have received, your name and email address (associated with your purchase).

 

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Tbilisi Quest Tours

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

Stories of Sololaki

 

  • Follow the instructions.
  • Find clues by answering the questions.
  • Some answers will require close attention to your surroundings, some answers are hidden in the texts preceding the question.
  • Pay attention to details!
  • Make notes of your answers, as some of them will come in handy.
  • You can also use an audio version by tapping on the “Play” button (instead of reading the text).
  • Make sure your smartphone is charged and connected to the internet and you may want to have a headphones. 

 

Proceed to your starting point at any time, enter the one-time password you received on your email and start the Quest! 🙂

Good luck!

 

STARTING POINT: Tbilisi City Assembly building on Liberty square

Tbilisi city assembly building on the map

 

Please kindly fill in the form below with the information you used when submitting your request

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LOCATION 1: Tbilisi City Assembly building on Liberty Square

Liberty square Tbilisi

 

What you see now looks a lot like a modern European city. The central roundabout has a 40-meter column crowned by St.George the dragon slayer, in action. But only a couple of centuries ago this was a gardened and unpopulated area outside the main city walls.

The development of the square began in the 1800s. The very first prominent building here was built in 1851 – Tbilisi Opera house. 23 years later it was almost completely destroyed by a fire. Currently there are only two thing that left now from that famed house.

Some say that back then "they" adorned the entrance to the Opera, and lit the path leading inside, with lamps attached to their tops.

What are "they"?

tap on the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

Anagram of the correct word in answer is “RING OFF

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LOCATION 2: Beginning of Tabidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Make your way to Galaktion Tabidze street to discover the poshest district of 19th century Tbilisi. This street, a lot like today, was one of the busiest in the area, full of small shops, cafes and workshops.

One of the trade establishments located on this street was “the Caucasian Partnership in Trade of Pharmaceutical goods” (CPTPG). It had stained glass windows from the floor to the ceiling. The building was owned by then famous merchant Yakov Gurgenov (сyrillic transcription: Яков Гургенов).

Locate this building’s current address

tap on the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

First owner’s initials in Cyrillic are still visible on some parts of the building

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LOCATION 3: Galaktion Tabidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Continue up Tabidze street and check out fascinating examples of classic architectural pieces along your way.

A very special house is located at 3/5 Tabidze str. This house was built in 1913 and was the largest building in the area. In addition to grand rented apartments, many different commercial enterprises of the time were located here – shops, newspaper offices, medical surgery, and a cozy café called “Cup of tea”. Some sources say that a company named Steamship Partnership “Caucasus and Mercury” had their office here too.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

This house belonged to one of the richest men in the whole of the Russian Empire, Alexander Mantashev. An oil tycoon and philanthropist, he commissioned this building to stand out against the architectural backdrop of Sololaki. The architect handled the task admirably. Because of its size and form, locals had their own name for this building…

 

How did they call it?

tap on the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

One of the enterprises that were located in this building has a clear connection to the correct answer

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LOCATION 4: Giorgi Leonidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Now return back down Tabidze Street towards Liberty square and turn left onto Leonidze Street. Its former name was Sololaki, meaning that this once was the main road into the district.

Just like today, this street was a very busy one, with numerous trade shops, pharmacies, artisan workshops and shoemaker corners, etc. There was even a large bank called Tiflis Mutual Credit Society.

The former address of the Bank’s building (that stands out by its fascinating “modern” design style and the Atlases holding the sky above the entrance) was 7, Sololaki street. But after numerous renovations and changes over time, the current address of the house has been changed.

 

Locate the building’s current street number

 

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LOCATION 5: Giorgi Leonidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Continue your journey up Leonidze Street. Now it’s almost completely tree-lined, providing shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. Years ago this wasn’t the case. It was nicknamed “Warm Street”, as it was sunny throughout the day.

 

Stop at 8, Leonidze Street. You may want to observe it from the opposite side of the road. The beautiful three-storey building was built in 1902 by the German-Tbilisian pharmacist Ferdinand Otten to accommodate his large family, a laboratory and his own pharmacy. “Otten’s Pharmacy” was famous throughout Tbilisi, and the name continued to be used among locals for many years after his death in 1930.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

The building to this day remains a pharmacy and is now a branch of the GPC chain. The interior has undergone dramatic changes though. No longer can you admire the fresco paintings on the walls and ceiling nor enjoy the huge thermometer or listen to the chiming of an old clock. But there are still antique wardrobes with original patterns, drawers with beautiful handles and counters that retain the memory of their first owner. And some old pictures to evoke the past.

 

What word was used on an outside signboard of the “Otten’s pharmacy”?

tap on the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

 

Hint*

Correct answer is on one of the pictures inside

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LOCATION 6: Geronti Kikodze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Now move further up the road and turn left onto Kikodze Street. Walk along the right-hand side (for better views). The architectural styles on this street are extremely diverse. And so are the stories.

In 1908 one of the most prominent inhabitants of this street (his official title was “Honorary Citizen”) and successful merchant was I. Kharazov. His family faced an extraordinary drama. Their son was kidnapped by the area's chief detective of the gendarmerie and several other accomplices. They returned the teenager for a 17,000-ruble ransom. Later the gang was exposed and exiled from the territory of Tiflis province.

Kharazov’s house design is still one of the most sophisticated in Sololaki. From 1915 the building accommodated a men’s gymnasium. After 1923 it became an Evening School of Soviet Working Youth. Today it is a school.

 

Find the house and enter the School number

 

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LOCATION 7: At 6, Kikodze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Keep walking along Kikodze Street. By now your eyes are already getting used to all the century-old architecture, and it’s very easy to miss one extraordinary house at Number 6. At a distance you will realize that this is not simply a house, but rather a mansion. This amazing piece of urban design represented a mix of Western European and Eastern architectural popular elements of that time.

It was also a unique house in terms of contemporary engineering solutions. For example, some sources say that it was the very first residential building in Tbilisi with a built-in heating system (original steam holes under first floor windows are still operational). And for sure it was the only house that had sliding wooden blinds on each window, those days very much trending in Europe. Most of them are still present.

 

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

The house belonged to local magistrate Markoz Dolukhanov. Rumour has it that he ordered a design that would reflect his interest in all 4 cardinal points of the world. Architects came up with a symbolic compass pointing in four directions.

 

Name that design element

tap the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

Anagram of the correct word in answer is “PRISE

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LOCATION 8: At 9, Kikodze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Kikodze Street is full of riddles. And so is our journey 🙂

Move further up the street and stop at Number 9

You may enter the main hallway through the antique door. A wrought-iron staircase, decorated in the Baroque and Renaissance style with floral designs, has become the adornment of the building’s lobby.

This is by far the most mysterious building in the area. There is no information whatsoever about who built this house and who first lived here. The only documented fact is that this building was rented by the Consulate of Estonia, during the short period of time that Georgia was independent from the Russian Empire but had not yet fallen to the Red Army (1918 till 1921).

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

There is also a popular story among local guides that this 1890 building was once a Gentlemen’s Club of late 19th century Tbilisi. And although there are no records to prove it, many would show an unusual decorative element on the entrance door’s metallic grille. Supposedly it points to the purpose of the building – a Gentlemen’s Club!

Name that element

tap on the word HINT if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

Take a closer look on the gentlemen pictured…

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LOCATION 9: At 11, Kikodze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Congratulations! You’re half-way through!

A few metres along at 11 Kikodze Street, there is a house famously known as the “Italian Villa”. for its stunning stone gallery and cozy front courtyard. During the early Soviet period it was known as the “House of the Party Elite”, because of its inhabitants.

You can’t miss this house. It is too important for this, too arrogant, too complex. Everything is excessive about this building, exaggerated and over the top. Nothing is half-hearted. The balcony, is luxurious and arched. The exterior decoration, is rich and almost royal. There is even a terrifying lion bas-relief above the main door.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

A true architectural diamond of the area, this Art Nouveau house was built in 1914 for the merchant Arkadiy Saponyants who was a fabrics manufacturer. Armenian in origin, Saponyants decided to alter, or rather translate his surname into Russian. “Sapon” in Armenian is – soap. And the Russian translation became his official name, which he proudly immortalized on the exterior of the building with new initials.

 

Find and enter them in

 

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LOCATION 10: At 27, Lado Asatiani street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Let’s keep going!

Continue to the end of the street, and turn left onto Lado Asatiani Street. This road was here long before Sololaki was built and served as the main transport route from the uphill village of Kodjori to Tbilisi. Villagers would bring their produce to sell at the local bazaar.

Keep to the right side while walking down this street for a better view of the house located on the opposite side at Number 27. This oriental-style mansion of the oil industrialist Nikolai Kalantarov was built in 1908.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

One of the urban legends of Sololaki is associated with the construction of the mansion. Allegedly, a wealthy merchant Kalantarov, who, they say, owned the Cast Iron Factory, fell in love with a beautiful opera singer lady. She, in response to his advances, said: "If you build a house for me that would look like a theater in Tbilisi, I will marry you." And the merchant kept his word, and the lady, they say, kept hers. But this is just a beautiful legend, which has nothing to do with reality 🙂

Nevertheless, can you guess what current Tbilisi theater is mentioned in the legend?

 

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LOCATION 11: Still on Lado Asatiani street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Before we continue our journey down Machabeli Street, there is one task left on Asatiani for you to complete. It’s relatively easy, so won’t take a lot of time 🙂

 

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

110 years ago, one of the houses opposite Kalantarov’s mansion belonged to one of the famous medical doctors of Tiflis. His name was Alexander Magikyan. His specialities were gastrointestinal diseases and pediatrics.

 

Can you locate his house?

tap on the word HINT below if you struggle with the answer

 

Hint*

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

QUEST BONUS

 

 

Make your way to Number 17 Machabeli Street. This is that same house from our Question 10, but from the other side. Now it is a simple residential building, the owners of the apartments are tolerant of tourists and are not averse to sharing stories with guests.

The ‘plafond’, a rich lace stucco molding, a fireplace with tiles, and marble railings have been preserved here. There are two combination locks, but the street door is often open. On the ground floor there is a club "Pirosmani", they have an intercom, you can ask for it. And if you go inside, make sure to check the 19th century original mirror on the second floor’s staircase.

It’s an ideal place for a selfie 🙂 

 

In order to get inside you need to know the combination locks’ code. As a Quest bonus we can help you to get that code. All you need to do is to add up all the answers involving numbers (correct house numbers, school number, etc) from previous questions and deduct 8. You will have a 2-digit number that is a code to the door!

IMPORTANT: As this is a living place, please kindly respect residents’ privacy, keep noise to a minimum, and don’t forget to wear masks while inside.

Tap “Next” to move on

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LOCATION 12: Machabeli street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

We hope that you’re having fun solving this “Stories of Sololaki” quest tour with us!

Now, make your way down Machabeli Street, and stop at Number 13. An outstanding industrialist, winemaker and philanthropist David Sarajishvili lived here. His brandy, which a Russian Emperor fell in love with and awarded David an Order, is still the most popular and one of the best in Georgia.

The house was built in 1905. The facade is in the Art Nouveau style, which was very fashionable at that time. The interior decoration varies: there are rooms in Baroque, Moorish and Art Nouveau styles. Sarajishvili was a great admirer of art, and kept a large collection of sculpture and paintings. Regular literary evenings were held with writers, poets, artists and musicians.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

In 1921, young Georgian writers succeeded in getting the new Soviet authorities to transfer the house into the hands of artists, and here the Writer’s House of Georgia was opened. It still functions today.

The current house address is number 13. But it wasn’t so when the building was built.

 

What was its original street address number?

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LOCATION 13: At 11, Machabeli street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Move further along Machabeli Street. One of the most prominent inhabitants here was Bolshevik and Soviet apparatchik Lavrentiy Beria. Before becoming the longest-living, ruthless and most influential chief of the Soviet secret police (later known as KGB) under Joseph Stalin, Georgian-born Beria served as Chief Secretary of the Communist Party of Georgia.

His office was located inside house Number 11. Today part of it is a residential building, while another part is the office of the National Olympic Committee of Georgia.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

Rumor has it that on the day Beria was eventually arrested in Moscow, his local Tbilisi driver drove his official Cadillac inside a Machabeli Street courtyard on the opposite side, and abandoned it. You won’t believe it, but the luxury vehicle is still there.

 

Locate the car and enter its number plate (digits only) 🙂 

 

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LOCATION 14: Galaktion Tabidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Make your way onto Galaktion Tabidze Street again. For this, first turn right from Machabeli onto Lermontov Street. Keep on walking towards hotel IOTA and then turn right onto Tabidze Street.

In July 1889 a group of St. Petersburgh lawyers launched a Life Insurance Society called L’URBAINE, with branches in most major cities of the Russian Empire. Tbilisi was no exception. Their office is located somewhere on this street. It occupied the first floor of a newly built 3-story Art Nouveau style building.

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

No one can tell now if it was their intention. But it seems a strange coincidence that part of the building’s façade (with the Life Insurance company inside) was decorated with something that looks very much like the opposite to life – an urn for ashes. Or maybe the owner of the house, attorney at law Arshak Kusikov, just liked playing chess, and this is simply a chess pawn… Why not a chess queen then? ☺ This is just one of the many unanswered questions in the history of Sololaki.

Unlike it, our next question can easily be answered.

 

Locate this houses' address

 

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LOCATION 15: At 24, Tabidze street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

Continue walking up Tabidze Street. We’re approaching an urban story of an architectural “battle” between two Tbilisians of that time. Pay close attention to two houses facing each other under numbers 23 and 24.

The dispute was about who had the most beautiful and fashionable home. It was clear then, and it is now, that number 24 won the contest. Fascinating mascarons on the facade, a frieze and a graceful balcony on the corner left the competition standing.

 

Look how beautiful this house is!

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

Number 23 had nothing left but to humor his neighbor by saying that he had the better view from his window - looking onto the better house! ☺.  And, in order to anchor this funny fact, he added a decorative element onto his own house, mocking his competitor.

 

What is that element?

tap HINT below if you struggle with the answer

Hint*

Any mocking signs on house #23? 

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LOCATION 16: At 30, Lado Asatiani street

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

 

And now we’re back again onto Asatiani Street.

On the opposite side, there is another architectural gem of Sololaki - a three-story mansion of the famous German Siemens family. This house appeared on 30, Asatiani Street at a time when these famous industrialists were laying telegraph lines from London to Calcutta, through the Caucasus.

All five brothers (including Werner, the founder of the SIEMENS brand) came to Georgia at different times, and the two younger ones, Walter and Otto, lived in Tbilisi until the end of their days. In his memoirs, Werner Siemens describes Tbilisi with German precision and laconicism: “Tiflis, in fact, consists of two cities: upper European and lower Asian, and both are sharply demarcated from each other. European Tiflis proudly calls itself the Asian Paris, or at least claims this title.”

Quest Tour: Stories of Sololaki

Not everyone knows that initially world-famous SIEMENS was created as a partnership of two progressive engineers. And hence the title of the company included two names instead of one. And while living and operating in Georgia the company was known under its initial name.

 

Can you find an indication of the second name in the company’s title? Type it in.

tap HINT if you struggle with the answer

 

Hint*

Even if you don't know German, you can get the meaning of the text on a plaque

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ON THE WAY TO SURPRISE LOCATION

Keep standing next to the Siemens house plaque.

You made it very well up to here and in order to reward you for being so scrupulous and attentive, we want you to visit our surprise location. But it wouldn’t be a quest if we had just given the address away. You need to solve the puzzle to find the place’s location ☺

 

Please note that this puzzle does not require you to do any complicated mathematics.

 

This is a very simple logic: use the text of the Siemens plaque in German language. You need to correspond text lines with the letters on that line and put together a 9-letter word. It is a first name of a famous Georgian, whom the street is named after.

Street name clue:

8-9 | 3-2 | 4-3 | 10-8 | 6-1 | 2-5 | 5-2 | 7-2 | 5-6

 

Then, you need to find a correct house number. Use a correct 3-digit numeric answer you found on the Location # 13. This part will require to do some simple math.

House number: x+y-z

 

When finished choose the right answer below

Question Image

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IN SEARCH OF THE SECRET CODE WORD

 

Well done! This is our surprise location for you – the cozy café called "Stories". Isn’t it great that the name of the café resembles everything you just experienced – Stories of Sololaki!

And this is not all ☺ We want to reward you here with a free cup of amazing coffee! But barista will not give it to you, unless you tell her a special code word. Yes, the quest hasn’t quite finished yet…

So, here is your last task:

While outside of the café, take a close look around and find a piece of art that was inspired by a world-famous artists’ painting.

Type in that ARTIST's name 🙂

 

Question Image
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