Armenians in Tbilisi

The Armenians have historically been one of the main ethnic groups in the city of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Armenians are the largest ethnic minority in Tbilisi at 4.8% of the population. Armenians migrated to the Georgian lands in the Middle Ages, during the Muslim rule of Armenia. They formed the single largest group of city's population in the 19th century. Official Georgian statistics of 2014 put the number of Armenians in Tbilisi 53,409 people.[10]

Armenians in Tbilisi
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Armenian Apostolic Church
Related ethnic groups
Armenians in Georgia
View of Tiflis by a prominent Russian-Armenian artist Ivan Aivazovsky, 1868
Armenians in Tbilisi by years
Year TOTAL Armenians %
1801-3[1][2] 20,000 14,860 74.3%
1864/65 winter[3] 60,085 28,404 47.3%
1864/65 summer[3] 71,051 31,180 43.9%
1876[4] 104,024 37,610 36.1%
1897[5] 159,590 41,151 36.4%
1916[6] 346,766 149,294 43%
1926[7] 294,044 100,148 34.1%
1939[7] 519,220 137,331 26.4%
1959[7] 694,664 149,258 21.5%
1970[7] 889,020 150,205 16.9%
1979[7] 1,052,734 152,767 14.5%
2002 [8] 1,081,679 82,586 7.6%
2014[9] 1,108,717 53,409 4.8%

Tbilisi or Tiflis (as most Armenians call it) was the center of cultural life of Armenians in the Russian Empire from early 19th century to early 20th century.


The Armenian history and contribution to the capital city of Tbilisi (known as Tiflis in Armenian, Russian, Persian, Azerbaijani and Turkish) is significant. After the Russian conquest of the area, Armenians fleeing persecution in the Ottoman Empire and Persia caused a jump in the Armenian population until it reached about 40% of the city total. Many of the mayors and business class were Armenian, and much of the old city was built by Armenians. Until recently the neighborhoods of Havlabar and the area across the river were very heavily Armenian, but that has changed a great deal in the last two decades.[citation needed]

An Armenian community has been known to have existed in Tbilisi since at least the 7th century, however a large Armenian community was not formed until the Late Middle Ages.[11] By the late Middle Ages, there were some 24 Armenian churches and monasteries in and around the city.[11] According to Tournefort, Armenians constituted three-quarters of the population of Tiflis in the 18th century, and owned 24 churches.[12]

Under the Russian Empire, the city of Tiflis became the center of Russian rule for the whole viceroyalty of Caucasia. During the 19th century, Tiflis became the center of the Eastern Armenian cultural revival and an Armenian cultural hub second only to Constantinople.[11]

Until recently, the neighborhoods of Avlabari (Havlabar) and the area across the river were very heavily Armenian. The older Armenian neighborhood of Tbilisi, on both sides of the river between Freedom Square and Havlabar carry Armenian names, including Tumanyan, Abovian, Akopian, Alikhanian, Sundukian, Yerevan, Ararat and Sevan.[citation needed]

The Diocese Church (the Saint Gevorg Church) in Tbilisi where the Armenian primate of Tbilisi sits is very close to the city fortress. In front of the church is the tomb of the 18th-century Armenian–Georgian bard, Sayat-Nova. In Havlabar, the other Armenian Church of Echmiadzin is undergoing renovation and reconstruction. The Armenian Pantheon of Tbilisi has the tombs of many famous Armenians including writers Hovhannes Tumanyan and Raffi.

Armenian sitesEdit


According to Tournefort, Armenians constituted three-quarters of the population of Tiflis in the 18th century, and owned 24 churches.[12] Ten of the churches were destroyed in the 1930s, and as of 1979, fourteen were still standing.[13]

There are still two working Armenian Churches in the city, and an Armenian Theatre. The Armenian Pantheon, where prominent Armenians are buried has the tombs of some of Armenian's favorite personalities ever, including Raffi and Hovhannes Tumanyan. The adjacent Armenian cemetery was taken over by the Georgian Church and their new national cathedral was built upon it. The remaining space in between the Pantheon and the new Georgian cathedral is now the construction site of what appears to be a Georgian Seminary. Again, the Armenian tombs here are being ignored, and human bones are being moved around like dirt.[citation needed]

A number of Armenian churches were confiscated by the Soviet state and then passed to the Georgian Church in the post-Soviet era. According to the United States State Department: "The Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic Churches have been unable to secure the return of churches and other facilities closed during the Soviet period, many of which later were given to the Georgian Orthodox Church by the State. The prominent Armenian church in Tbilisi, Norashen, remained closed, as did four other smaller Armenian churches in Tbilisi and one in Akhaltsikhe. In addition, the Roman Catholic and Armenian Apostolic Churches, as with Protestant denominations, have had difficulty obtaining permission to construct new churches due to pressure from the GOC."[14]

Petros Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama TheatreEdit

Pedros Adamian Armenian Theatre

Petros Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre was established in 1858 by the Armenian theatre figure George Chmshkian. The first staging was "Adji Suleyman" performance. From 1922 through 1936 before building of the new current theatre building the theatres name was "Artistic theatre". In 1936 was built a new theatre building which was named Stepan Shahumian Armenian Theatre, after Bolshevik Stepan Shahumian. The first performance was Mkrtich (Nikita) Djanan's performance "Shahname". Here worked Petros Adamian, Siranoush (Merobe Kantarjian), Vahram Papazian, Hovhannes Abelian, Olga Maysourian, Isaac Alikhanian, Mariam Mojorian, Artem and Maria Beroians, Artem Lusinian, Babken Nersesian, Darius Amirbekian, Ashot Kadjvorian, Emma Stepanian, Armenian directors: Arshak Bourdjalian, Leon Kalantar, Stepan Kapanakian, Alexander Abarian, Ferdinand Bzhikian, Hayk Umikian, Mickael Grigorian, Ivan Karapetian, Roman Chaltikian, Roman Matiashvili, Robert Yegian. Music for theatres often was written by Aram Khachaturian, Armen Tigranian, Alexander Spendiarian, and others.

Nowadays Peter Adamian Tbilisi State Armenian Drama Theatre is the main spiritual and public center of Georgian-Armenian community.[15]

Nersisyan SchoolEdit

Freedom SquareEdit

Once formally known as Paskevich Yerevanski Square, then Lenin Square, it was commonly called Yerevan Square. Ivan Paskevich was a Russian general and was called Paskevich of Yerevan (Yerevanski) in honor of his taking of Yerevan for the Russian Empire. Abutting the north side of Freedom Square is a small open space with a fountain. Buried between the bust of Pushkin and the fountain is the Bolshevik revolutionary Kamo (Simon Ter-Petrossian). His grave has been paved over and is unmarked.

Armenian Street NamesEdit

The heavily Armenian old neighborhoods of Tbilisi still have many Armenian street names, though some have been changed over time. Leselidze Street was once called Armenian Bazaar Street.[citation needed]

Vera cemeteryEdit

Vera cemetery was used by local Armenians before the Soviet takeover. Now it is used by Georgians.[citation needed]

Notable Armenians from TbilisiEdit


Soviet eraEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny (1994). The making of the Georgian nation. Indiana University Press. pp. 116–. ISBN 978-0-253-20915-3. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  2. ^ "in 1803 it was considered up to 2700 houses in Tiflis from which more than 2500 belonged to Armenians. Thus, the capital made then quite the property of Armenians". (the guidebook across Caucasus of Russian geographer Vladikin, М.Владыкин, "Путеводитель и собеседник в путешествии по Кавказу", 1885 год, с.300.
  3. ^ a b (in Russian) Тифлис // Географическо-статистический словарь Российской империи.St. Petersburg, 1885, p. 133 (Note: this is a 'one-day census' of unknown scope and methodology).
  4. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny (1994). The making of the Georgian nation. Indiana University Press. p. 368. ISBN 978-0-253-20915-3. Retrieved 29 December 2011. (one-day census of Tiflis)
  5. ^ (in Russian) Первая всеобщая перепись населения Российской Империи 1897 г.. Изд. Центр. стат. комитета МВД: Тифлисская губерния. — St. Petersburg, 1905, pp. 74—75.(Note: the census did not contain a question on ethnicity, which was deduced from data on mother tongue, social estate and occupation)[1]
  6. ^ Caucasian Calendar, 1916. pp. 206-209
  7. ^ a b c d e (in Russian) Ethno-Caucasus, население Кавказа, республика Грузия, население Грузии
  8. ^ Ethnic groups by major administrative-territorial units
  9. ^ Total population by regions and ethnicity
  10. ^ ETHNIC GROUPS BY MAJOR ADMINISTRATIVE-TERRITORIAL UNITS Archived August 31, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Statistics Georgia
  11. ^ a b c Hewsen, Robert H. (2001). Armenia: A Historical Atlas. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-33228-4.
  12. ^ a b Thierry, Jean-Michel (1989). Armenian Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 317. ISBN 0-8109-0625-2.
  13. ^ Thierry, Jean-Michel (1989). Armenian Art. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p. 586. ISBN 0-8109-0625-2.
  14. ^ U.S. Department of State, International Religious Freedom Report 2005
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-02-10. Retrieved 2019-05-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Телеведущая Тина Канделаки – гость Антона Комолова и Ольги Шелест (in Russian). Radio Mayak. Archived from the original on April 1, 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2013. КАНДЕЛАКИ: Ну, практически, папа меня, видимо, сделал на балконе этого дома под бриз Куры. Но мои родители, вернее как, моя мама, она армянка, и она из достаточно состоятельной семьи, которая, по истории моей семьи, в свое время вместе с купцами Гергидовыми, вначале они владели полностью, потом мои родители…
  17. ^ "Anna Kasyan". Styriarte. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013.

Further readingEdit