Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rustavi: New, Old, Old-Old, and Ancient

In Awassa, Ethiopia, there are the New, New Lewi Resort, the New Lewi, and the Old Lewi.

Here in Georgia, there’s New Rustavi, Old Rustavi, Old, Old Rustavi, and Ancient Rustavi.

Rustavi History Museum
Today, Nino and Mari accompanied me to the Rustavi History Museum. I keep hearing that Georgians, as a rule, don’t much care for museums (and in many cases, neither do I), so it was generous of Mari and Nino to go with me.

The Rustavi History Museum is in Old Rustavi. Old Rustavi was built in the 1940s to support the big, new metallurgical factory. German prisoners of war completed much of the construction. Old Rustavi is pretty, with large Italianate (I say Italianate, but really, I don’t know) public buildings and houses. Mature trees line the residential streets. There are several parks with beautiful "bones," but which are currently forlorn in their neglect. Most of Old Rustavi's buildings seem to be disintegrating from the lack of maintenance, although there are some beautiful exceptions. Old Rustavi is ripe for speculators. There is potential for a grand future here, as people flee from Tbilisi's higher cost of living.  

At the museum, there was some confusion about the admission fees, but we got that figured out, and a docent with a fairly good command of English proceeded to make the tour much more interesting than if we’d not had him available. There was signage in Georgian and Russian, so Mari and Nino were pretty well covered, but I liked that Nino still had a number of questions for the docent.

At this time, I should probably wax poetic on Rustavi's lengthy history, which tends to be many iterations of climbing into some greatness, getting smashed down by some exernal force, then climbing into greatness, getting smashed ....

Rustavi really doesn't get the respect it deserves from Georgians. Mostly I hear it being dismissed by Tbilisi commuters as just a "factory town" in the middle of the "Sahara Desert."

Ummm, of course, both statements have merit. But now I live here, so I gotta stand up for my temporary home base.

After the museum, we wandered over to the Rustavi Youth Park. There were the ruins of Old, Old Rustavi (circa 11th century and before) plus those of park that must have been splendid in its day -- zoological buildings, overgrown footpaths, a fading theater. Some murals on the park's entrance wall.

Old, old Rustavi ruins in Old Rustavi's Youth Park

Old, old Rustavi ruins in Old Rustavi's Youth Park

Beyond Rustavi, view from Rustavi Youth Park in Old Rustavi

Rustavi Youth Park in Old Rustavi

Remains of zoological building in Old Rustavi's Youth Park

After visiting Old Rustavi's Youth Park, we looked at a sort of church compound across from the hospital in Old Rustavi.

Georgian churches are lushly painted inside. Here are interior photos of one of the small churches in the compound, named for Mary (Mariam), I believe:

In the same church compound is a church with a colorful exterior:

And today's Building Behind Me:

Building Behind Me 081811l

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