The old town of Tbilisi Georgia is crumbling. The historical city centre ignored by decades of Soviet rule is now subject to newly found investment pressure, as exemplified in the mushroom like new structures masterminded by the Saakashvili government. Not all residents see this as a sign of progress. Gudiashvili Square – a lovely leafy square surrounded by winding streets – was the recent scene of community protest to stop the demolition of historic properties. Thousands of people gathered, encouraged by heritage groups and local entrepreneurs – like café/restaurant Purpur – who recognise the value of the unique properties and urban fabric.
We were in town recently at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture and local heritage NGO Tiflis Hamkari to identify the possibilities for economically viable revitalization of the historic centre. The change of government offers a short but timely window of opportunity to change the mindset: use cultural heritage as an asset for economic development.
Tags: heritage conservation