Narikala Fortress is nowadays the leading sighting among the most visited places in Tbilisi by tourists. No one, I emphasize, no one leaves Tbilisi without walking around this amazing fortress, which is unbelievably stunning at night. Narikala Fortress draws your attention from all sides of Tbilisi, you can notice it from almost every part of Tbilisi. It overlooks the Mtkvari River, which makes Narikala even more incredible. Narikala consists of two walled sections between the sulphur baths and the Tbilisi Botanical Garden.
This fortress sometimes was even called Shuris-tsikhe, which means The Rival Fortress. The fortress walls date from various periods, the earliest from the 4th century, when it was a Persian citadel. Most of the present walls were built in the 8th century by the Arab emirs, whose palace was inside the fortress. In Georgian sources it is called “Mother Fortress”. Narikala offers you some of the best panoramas of the city. This is an ancient symbol of Tbilisi’s defensive brilliance. There are two ways to get there and both are incredibly beautiful: first is to walk up from Meidan, one of the most beautiful places in Old Tbilisi and another one is Cable Car, from Rike Park- a host of a numerous entertainment facilities, like singing and dancing fountains, artificial climbing wall, children’s maze, mega-chess board, as well as footpaths and quiet corners (for lovers, ha-ha...).
The start point of cable car takes visitors up to Narikala fortress. If you walk by foot, entry to the fortress is FREE, but if you want to look around the city sightings from the cable car, then it costs 2,5 Lari. It has 8 seats, and the passengers can see EVERYTHING, as the cable cars have glass-floors. The road from Rike to Narikala is just 686 meters, and so it takes about 2 minutes and 10 seconds to get there. You can fetch lovely Georgian souvenirs from here too.
From outside the fortress entrance, you can follow a path west in front of the walls along the statue of Kartlis Deda (Mother Georgia). As attractive as a 20m aluminium woman can be, this symbol of the city holds a sword in one hand, and a cup of wine in the other. The explanation is really exciting : it shows perfectly the character of Georgian Women, as well as men, warmly welcoming guests and passionately fighting off enemies.
Another important sighting here is the Botanical Garden, which is located at the foothills of the Narikala fortress. It occupies the area of the 161 hectares and possesses a collection of over 4,500 taxonomic groups.
The little chucrch/monastery up in the hills is another interesting sight in Narikala. It's called St. Nicholas Church, and the internal part of the church is decorated with the frescos showing scenes both from the Bible and history of Georgia.
In a nutshell, if you leave Tbilisi without visiting Narikala Fortress, just consider, that you have not seen Tbilisi at all.