Located in the heights of Tbilisi, on the slope of Mount Mtatsminda, the historic pantheon gives you a sense of calm and history.
Walk up the steep cobbled road to the 16th-century Mama Daviti Church or take the funicular to the first stop. There's a small shop selling religious goods.
Russian writer Alexander Griboyedov (1795–1829) and his Georgian wife Nino Chavchavadze (1812–1857) were the first to be buried in the Pantheon, though it was officially opened in 1929 to celebrate the centenary of Griboyedov’s death in Iran. Since then, several illustrious Georgians have been buried or reburied there, and you'll see the tombs of some of Georgia's key writers, artists and heroes, many of whom have streets named after them country-wide. Ilia Chavchavadze claims the largest tomb-memorial. There, also, you'll find poet Giorgi Leonidze (1899-1966) and Chabua Amirejibi (1921-2013), a Soviet-era dissident. One of the most poignant can be found on the far right-hand side when you enter- a memorial to the intelligentsia who lost their lives in the purge of 1937. We know they were shot but their bodies were never found.
List of people buried at the Mtatsminda Pantheon (source: wikipedia)
- Vaso Abashidze (1854–1926), Georgian theater actor and director
- Veriko Anjaparidze (1897–1987), Georgian theater and movie actress
- Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817–1845), Georgian romanticist poet
- Vasil Barnovi (1856–1934), Georgian novelist
- Nikoloz Berdzenishvili (1894–1965), Georgian historian
- Vakhtang Chabukiani (1910–1992), Georgian ballet dancer
- Ilia Chavchavadze (Saint Ilia the Righteous) (1837–1907), Georgian writer and public figure; and his wife Olgha Guramishvili (1842–1927)
- Zakaria Chichinadze (1853–1931), Georgian amateur historian and publisher
- Simon Chikovani (1902–1966), Georgian poet and public figure
- Otar Chiladze (1933–2009), Georgian writer
- Kakutsa Cholokashvili (1888–1930), Georgian national hero and fighter against the Soviet regime
- Shalva Dadiani (1874–1959), Georgian playwright and actor
- Nodar Dumbadze (1928–1984), Georgian writer
- Davit Eristavi (1847–1890), Georgian journalist, translator and playwright
- Zviad Gamsakhurdia (1939–1993), Soviet-era dissident and the first democratically elected President of Georgia
- Keke Geladze (1858–1937), mother of Joseph Stalin
- Iakob Gogebashvili (1840–1912), Georgian writer and educator
- Alexander Griboyedov (1795–1829), Russian writer; and his wife Nino Chavchavadze (1812–1857)
- Ioseb Grishashvili (1889–1965), Georgian writer, poet and scholar
- Lado Gudiashvili (1896–1980), Georgian painter
- Simon Janashia (1900–1947), Georgian historian
- Mose Janashvili (1855–1934), Georgian historian
- Ana Kalandadze (1924–2008), Georgian poet
- Akaki Khorava (1895–1972), Georgian actor
- Leo Kiacheli (1884–1963), Georgian writer
- Dimitri Kipiani (1814–1887), Georgian journalist and public figure
- Davit Kldiashvili (1862–1931), Georgian writer
- Merab Kostava (1939–1989), Soviet-era dissident and national hero of Georgia
- Giorgi Leonidze (1899–1966), Georgian poet
- Kote Marjanishvili (1872–1933), Georgian theatre director
- Nikoloz Muskhelishvili (1891–1976), Georgian mathematician
- Niko Nikoladze (1843–1928), Georgian journalist and public benefactor
- Iakob Nikoladze (1876–1951), Georgian sculptor
- Ivane Paliashvili (1868–1934), Georgian conductor
- Galaktion Tabidze (1892–1959), Georgian poet
- Ekvtime Takaishvili (1863–1953), Georgian historian and archaeologist
- Aleksandre Tsagareli (1844–1929), Georgian linguist
- Akaki Tsereteli (1840–1915), Georgian poet
- Grigol Tsereteli (1870–1938), Georgian papyrologist
- Mikhail Tskhakaya (1865–1950), Georgian communist
- Anastasia Tumanishvili-Tseretlisa (1849–1932), Georgian woman writer
- Vazha-Pshavela (1861–1915), Georgian poet
- Ilia Vekua (1907–1977), Georgian mathematician
- Sergo Zakariadze (1907–1971), Georgian actor
- Solomon Dodashvili (1805–1836), Georgian philosopher, journalist, historian, grammarian, belletrist and enlightener
- Chabua Amirejibi (1921–2013), Georgian novelist and Soviet-era dissident
Enjoy the stunning view over Tbilisi as you absorb the gravity of the place, then have a look in the St David cave. The guardian there can tell you something of the history of it (he speaks Russian and English), though heavily laced with the adoration of a believer. Legend has it that David Garejeli, one of 13 Assyrian monks who came to Georgia in the 6th century to boost Christianity, lived in a cave there (which you can now see full of water, which you are free to drink!). After a scandal in which he was accused of impregnating a lady, he confronted said woman publicly down on now-Rustaveli Avenue in front of the Kashveti Church, demanding "by the power of God" that the child in her womb name its real father. They say the baby named a local stonesmith. The locals then stoned the woman to death for her lies and she gave birth to a stone at that moment, so-doing proving David's innocence. Guilt-ridden for not saving the woman, David retired to the desert and founded the David Gareja cave-monastery. Water then began to flow in that place and also in the cave in Tbilisi, releasing David from his guilt.
Now check out the Mama Daviti Church. Ladies, please cover your heads with a scarf provided. You'll notice the floor-to-ceiling frescoes are dark- deliberately painted that way for weight of meaning and comfort to the eyes, so the guide explained. You'll see numerous saints and sainted public figures on the walls. Feel free to buy and light a candle here (20 Tetri to 1 GEL) in a small booth near the entrance to the church.
Closest metro station: Liberty Square. If you walk up, note that the road is steep.
You can take a funicular to the church, one-way is 1 GEL from 9 AM - 7 PM. To get up, you also need to buy a non-refundable plastic card (2 GEL) loaded with the ticket cost, but this card can be shared among a group.