The current mayor – Gigi Ugulava, one of the regime’s star figures who is campaigning to have his tenure renewed during the mayoral elections which are to be held in May 2010 – has emerged with a surprising programme entitled “Old Tbilisi’s New Life”, which aims not at preserving old architectural monuments but instead at launching a real estate building boom in the old city’s heart. As part of this programme, city hall is purchasing houses in the Old Town by buying them back from their owners (who thus look for housing elsewhere) in order to resell them. These houses can then be freely knocked down, and new ones can be built in their stead.It seems Georgia is bent on pursuing the Azerbaijani strategy of erecting as many atrociously ugly buildings as possible while completely ignoring the real charm and uniqueness of its historical architecture. The two countries' styles are different, but serve the same function of blending and creativity in bringing together styles from wildly different areas. It would be a real loss to lose Tbilisi's Old Town.
Below the fold, some photos from the day I spent walking around the capital city.