About Sights – Abanotubani Sulphur Baths

The “Abanotubani” is the name given to the district in the Old Town of Tbilisi where there is a whole street (Abanos kucha) of public bathhouses that use the sulphurous waters of the many hot springs in this area.

Abanotubani is the place, where according to legend, King Vakhtang Gorgasali’s falcon fell, leading to the discovery of the hot springs and, subsequently the founding of a new capital.

The bathhouses are located below ground level with only beehive-like domes visible on the surface.

The above-ground Orbeliani bathhouse has a Central Asian feel to its blue-tile mosaic facade.

What happens inside? This depends on whether you choose to use the communal baths or a private bathing room. If you choose to use the cheaper communal baths (separate ones for men and women) everyone will be naked so more modest bathers may prefer to take a private bathing room.

There are locker rooms for users of the communal baths. Your clothes go in a locker, which the attendant shuts with a key. Start with a shower, take a dip in the hot pool, relax in the steam room and cool down in the cold water pool. Repeat as necessary.

Massages by a Mekise (Masseur) are available but don’t expect a Turkish style massage; the massages here are more like a thorough scrubbing. The Mekise uses a special sponge full of foam and scrubs off old skin with a glove that is made of mane. It is very refreshing.

How much does it cost? At the time of writing this, prices for the communal baths were 3 lari, private rooms cost between 15-80 lari per hour (depending on size of room). A massage cost between 5-20 lari.

Any other advice? Bring your own towel and beach sandals, though these can be hired for a small fee. You should also bring your own shower gel or soap. The sulfates in the water cause rapid oxidization of metals so take care to remove jewellery.

Entrance to the Royal Baths

Sign on the wall of the Orbeliani bathhouse commemorating Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin’s visit and his quotation: “I have never encountered anything more luxurious than this Tbilisi bath”.

Sign for Bathhouse Number 5

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17 Responses to “About Sights – Abanotubani Sulphur Baths”
  1. Jodi Stone says:

    I’ve said this before, but I love the old history of your country. Our country is still what is considered young (500 or so years) and our older structures are not built in the same way your are.

    Truly beautiful.

  2. rumpydog says:

    Oooh! And people still use the baths. That sounds like it would be interesting!

  3. That is so fascinating! Does the water smell of sulphur?

  4. Dianda says:

    Wow, beautiful!

  5. Chancy and Mumsy says:

    The above ground bathhouse is beautiful. I really like the second picture too. Here in Arkansas we have bathhouses in Hot Springs…very popular place and I bet the bathhouses are well used there in Georgia too. Hugs

  6. This sounds very interesting! Would be fun to try! Great post! 🙂

    God Bless You!
    The collies and chuck 🙂

  7. eripanwkevin says:

    Hmmm…..very interesting!!! It looks like hammam….that is my mom’s favorite one, we don’t have hammam in Japan though. I remember that In Hungary, there are many public bath and hungarian people love to go there as if it’s daily routine. People in Tbilisi go there often, too?

  8. Diane says:

    I fear I would have to use the private rooms as my naked body would scare the livelyhood right out of other bathers ha ha. Love learning more and more of this beautiful and wonderful country of yours.

  9. Mumma would like to be there right now – sounds very relaxing (even the scrubbing part)!

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