Kutaisi (//, Georgian: ქუთაისი [kʰutʰɑisi]) is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the third-most populous city in Georgia, traditionally, second in importance, after the capital city of Tbilisi. Situated 221 kilometres (137 miles) west of Tbilisi, on the Rioni River, it is the capital of the western region of Imereti.
|Established||13th century B.C.|
|• Body||Kutaisi City Assembly|
|• Mayor||Ioseb Khakhaleishvili (Georgian Dream) |
|• Total||67.7 km2 (26.1 sq mi)|
|Elevation||80 m (260 ft)|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||2,200/km2 (5,600/sq mi)|
|Population by ethnicity|
|• Georgians||99.5 %|
|• Russians||0.36 %|
|• Ukrainians||0.10 %|
|• Armenians||0.09 %|
|Time zone||UTC+4 (Georgian Time)|
|Area code(s)||(+995) 431|
Historically one of the major cities of Georgia, it served as political center of Colchis in the Middle Ages as capital of the Kingdom of Abkhazia and Kingdom of Georgia and later as the capital of the Kingdom of Imereti. From October 2012 to December 2018, Kutaisi briefly was the seat of the Parliament of Georgia as an effort to decentralise the Georgian government.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the city functioned as the capital of the Colchis in the sixth to fifth centuries BC. It is believed that, in Argonautica, a Greek epic poem about Jason and the Argonauts and their journey to Colchis, author Apollonius Rhodius considered Kutaisi their final destination as well as the residence of King Aeëtes.
Later, it was capital of the kingdom of Lazica until being occupied briefly by the Arabs. An Arab incursion into western Georgia was repelled by Abkhazians jointly with Lazic and Iberian allies in 736, towards c.786, Leon II won his full independence from Byzantine and transferred his capital to Kutaisi, thus unifying Lazica and Abasgia via a dynastic union. The latter led the unification of the Georgian monarchy in the 11th century.
From 1008 to 1122, Kutaisi served as capital of the united Kingdom of Georgia, and, from the 15th century until 1810, it was the capital of the Imeretian Kingdom. In 1508, the city was conquered by Selim I, who was the son of Bayezid II, the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
During the 17th century, Imeretian kings made many appeals to Russian Empire to help them in their struggle for independence from the Ottomans. All these appeals were ignored as Russia did not want to spoil relations with Turkey. Only in the reign of Catherine the Great, in 1768, were troops of general Gottlieb Heinrich Totleben sent to join the forces of King Heraclius II of Georgia, who hoped to reconquer the Ottoman-held southern Georgian lands, with Russian help. Totleben helped King Solomon I of Imereti to recover his capital, Kutaisi, on August 6, 1770.
Finally, the Russian-Turkish wars ended in 1810 with the annexation of the Imeretian Kingdom by the Russian Empire. The city was the capital of the Kutais Governorate, which included much of west Georgia. In March 1879, the city was the site of a blood libel trial that attracted attention all over Russia; the ten accused Jews were acquitted.
Kutaisi was a major industrial center before Georgia's independence on 9 April 1991. Independence was followed by the economic collapse of the country, and, as a result, many inhabitants of Kutaisi have had to work abroad. Small-scale trade prevails among the rest of the population.
In 2011, Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, signed a constitutional amendment relocating the parliament to Kutaisi. On 26 May 2012, Saakashvili inaugurated the new Parliament building in Kutaisi. This was done in an effort to decentralise power and shift some political control closer to Abkhazia, although it has been criticised as marginalising the legislature, and also for the demolition of a Soviet War Memorial formerly at the new building's location. The subsequent government of the Georgian Dream passed a new constitution that moved the parliament back to Tbilisi, effective from January 2019.
The landmark of the city is the ruined Bagrati Cathedral, built by Bagrat III, king of Georgia, in the early 11th century. The Gelati Monastery a few km east of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the famous churches in Georgia is Motsameta monastery. It is named after two saints, brothers David and Constantine. They were the Dukes of Margveti, and were martyred by Arab invaders in the 8th century. Besides the churches, there are many interesting places in Kutaisi, such as: Sataplia Cave, where one can observe footprints of dinosaurs; ruins of Geguti Palace, which was one of the residences of Georgian monarchs; "Okros Chardakhi" – Georgian Kings’ Palace; and the Pantheon, where many notable citizens are buried. The Kutaisi Synagogue which was built in 1885 is also an interesting sight.
Museums and other cultural institutionsEdit
1. Kutaisi State Historical Museum
2. Kutaisi Museum of Sport
3. Kutaisi Museum of Martial Art
4. Museum of Zakaria Paliashvili
5. Kutaisi State Historical Archive
6. Kutaisi State Scientific-Universal Library
7. Akaki Tsereteli State University
Theatres and cinemaEdit
1. Kutaisi Lado Meskhishvili State Academic Theatre
2. Kutaisi Meliton Balanchivadze State Opera House
3. Kutaisi Iakob Gogebashvili State Puppet Theatre
4. Cinema and Entertaining Center “Suliko”
Professional unions and public organizationsEdit
- Georgian Writers’ Union
- Georgian Painters’ Union
- Folk Palace
Local newspapers include: Kutaisi, Imeretis Moabe, PS, Akhali Gazeti, and Kutaisuri Versia. Other publications include Chveneburebi, a journal published by the Ministry of Diaspora Issues, and Gantiadi, a scientific journal.
TV: "Rioni"; Radio: "Dzveli Kalaki" (old City)
Also nearly all of Georgia's national-level newspapers, journals and television stations have their representatives in Kutaisi.
Kutaisi is located along both banks of the Rioni River. The city lies at an elevation of 125–300 metres (410–984 feet) above sea level. To the east and northeast, Kutaisi is bounded by the Northern Imereti Foothills, to the north by the Samgurali Range, and to the west and the south by the Colchis Plain.
Kutaisi is surrounded by deciduous forests to the northeast and the northwest. The low-lying outskirts of the city have a largely agricultural landscape. The city centre has many gardens and its streets are lined with high, leafy trees. In the springtime, when the snow starts to melt in the nearby mountains, the storming Rioni River in the middle of the city is heard far beyond its banks.
Kutaisi has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with a well-defined on-shore/monsoonal flow (characteristic of the Colchis Plain) during the autumn and winter months. The summers are generally hot and relatively dry while the winters are wet and cool. Average annual temperature in the city is 14.8 °C (58.6 °F). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 5.4 °C (41.7 °F) while August is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24.7 °C (76.5 °F). The absolute minimum recorded temperature is −17.0 °C (1.4 °F) and the absolute maximum is 43.1 °C (109.6 °F).
Average annual precipitation is around 1,500 mm (59.06 in). Rain may fall in every season of the year. The city often experiences heavy, wet snowfall (snowfall of 30 cm / 12 in or more per single snowstorm is not uncommon) in the winter, but the snow cover usually does not last for more than a week. Kutaisi experiences powerful easterly winds in the summer which descend from the nearby mountains.
|Climate data for Kutaisi (normals and extremes 1981–2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||21.4
|Average high °C (°F)||9.2
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.6
|Average low °C (°F)||3.2
|Record low °C (°F)||−6.6
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||164.7
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||11.7||13.8||13.8||13.3||12.1||11.9||13.6||11.6||10.8||10.3||11.8||14.5||149.2|
|Average relative humidity (%)||68||68||69||66||69||72||76||75||74||71||65||64||70|
|Source 1: World Meteorological Organization|
|Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (days with precipitation and humidity)|
Kutaisi has traditionally been an important industrial center in Georgia, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union most of the old manufacturing lines either stopped working or had to greatly reduce their operations. Nevertheless, the city continues to be an important regional center for the greater Imereti area, acting as a commercial hub for the surrounding countryside. In recent years, the city has started attracting more investment from various multinational corporations.
The Auto Mechanical Plant, originally established in 1945, is located in Kutaisi.
There are two free industrial zones in Kutaisi: The Kutaisi free industrial zone (Kutaisi FIZ) and the Hualing free industrial zone (Hualing FIZ). The Kutaisi FIZ was created in 2009 and was established on the initiative of Fresh Electric, an Egypt-based home appliances producer. The Hualing FIZ operates since 2015, and specializes in wood and stone processing, furniture and mattress production and metal construction. Both of the free industrial zones offer multiple incentives to investors such as tax exemptions and reduced barriers for trade.
In 2019, German solar panel manufacturer AE Solar opened a new, fully automated manufacturing line in Kutaisi. With a total output of 500 MW per year it is the largest solar panel factory under one roof in Europe. During the same year Changan Automobile announced plans to construct an electric car factory in Kutaisi, with an annual production capacity of up to 40,000 vehicles. The company plans to export annually about 20,000 cars to the EU. The factory plans to employ about 3,000 people.
Kutaisi has a great tradition in sports, with many famous sport clubs. FC Torpedo Kutaisi has participated on the highest level of the Soviet Union football league. After Georgia achieved independence, it won many domestic and international titles. RC AIA Kutaisi won the Soviet Championship several times in rugby, and after independence, national championships and cups. The women's football club FC Martve takes part at the 2017–18 UEFA Women's Champions League qualifying round after becoming champion in the Georgia women's football championship in 2016. Kutaisi also has an influential basketball club BC Kutaisi 2010, 2016 Champion of the Georgian Superliga, which plays its home games at the Kutaisi Sport Palas.
David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport (IATA: KUT, ICAO: UGKO) is an airport located 14 km (8.70 mi) west of Kutaisi. It is one of three international airports currently in operation in Georgia.
Kutaisi has 2 main railway stations, along with multiple smaller ones. Direct inter-city, as well as suburban railway services, are provided to Tbilisi (Central) and other major cities across the country. The rail operator on all lines is Georgian Railways.
"Kutaisoba" is the most important holiday in Kutaisi. It is celebrated on the second of May. On this day the population of Kutaisi crowds into the central park, with their children and celebrate together.
Some people make masks and there are many kinds of performances, so it is a lot of fun. Also little children sell chamomiles. It is an old tradition, in the past ladies collected money for poor people, so today children also collect money for them.
On Kutaisoba one can see traditional Georgian dances and you can hear folk music. Also it is an old tradition to go in the forest, which is near Kutaisi. Families barbecue and play games. On this day, people wear traditional clothes, choxa, so that attendees can imagine that they are in past times. Also there is a tradition of writing lyrics which have been written by writers from Kutaisi and then airplanes throw them from the sky. There is also a competition in different kinds of martial arts.
- Aeëtes – King of Kingdom of Colchis
- Bagrat III – King of united Kingdom of Georgia in 975–1014
- George I – King of united Kingdom of Georgia in 1014–1027
- Bagrat IV – King of united Kingdom of Georgia in 1027–1072
- George II – King of united Kingdom of Georgia in 1072–1089
- David IV – King of united Kingdom of Georgia in 1089–1125
- Veriko Anjaparidze – Georgian actress
- Revaz Gabriadze – cinematographer, writer, director, production designer
- Niko Nikoladze (1843–1928) – Georgian public figure
- Meliton Balanchivadze (1862–1937) – Georgian composer
- Zakaria Paliashvili (1871–1933) – Georgian composer
- Iakob Nikoladze (1876–1951) – Georgian sculptor, designer of the previous state flag of Georgia.
- Władysław Raczkiewicz (1885–1947) – first president of the Polish government-in-exile, 1939–1947
- Joseph Orbeli (1887–1961) – orientalist
- David Kakabadze (1889–1952) – Georgian painter
- Victor Dolidze (1890–1933) – Georgian composer
- Petre Otskheli (1907–1937) Georgian modernist set and costume designer
- Otar Korkia (1923–2005) – Georgian basketball player and coach (Olympic silver medalist)
- Dodo Chichinadze (1924–2009) – Georgian actress
- Revaz Dzodzuashvili (b. 1945) – Georgian football player, World Cup 1966 bronze medalist
- Zurab Sakandelidze (b. 1945) – Georgian basketball player, Olympic champion
- Mikheil Korkia (b. 1948) – Georgian basketball player, Olympic champion
- Meir Pichhadze (1955–2010) – Israeli painter, Kutaisi native
- Tengiz Sulakvelidze (b. 1956) – Georgian football player, played in 1982 FIFA World Cup, Euro 1988 silver medalist
- Ramaz Shengelia (1957–2012) – Georgian football player, played in 1982 FIFA World Cup
- Maia Chiburdanidze (b. 1961) – the seventh Women's World Chess Champion
- Besik Khamashuridze (b. 1977) – Georgian rugby player, won 53 caps, RC Aia Kutaisi player-coach
- David Khakhaleishvili (b. 1971) – Olympic champion in Wrestling
- Katie Melua (b. 1984) – A Georgian-British singer and songwriter that was born and grew up here.
- Nika Sichinava (b. 1994) – Georgian football player, played for Yunist Chernihiv and FC Inhulets Petrove.
Twin towns – sister citiesEdit
- Ashkelon, Israel
- Columbia, United States
- Dnipro, Ukraine
- Ganja, Azerbaijan
- Gomel, Belarus
- Karşıyaka, Turkey
- Kharkiv, Ukraine
- Laiwu (Jinan), China
- Lviv, Ukraine
- Mykolaiv, Ukraine
- Nanchang, China
- Newport, Wales, UK
- Poznań, Poland
- Sumy, Ukraine
- Szombathely, Hungary
- Ungheni, Moldova
- Valka, Latvia
- Zhytomyr, Ukraine
Kutaisi has cooperation agreements with:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kutaisi.|
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Kutaisi.|