We visited Dry Bridge Market on the final day of our stay in Tbilisi in February 2013.
This open air market is located around Saarbrucken Bridge and Martis Park on the banks of the Mtkvari River and opens daily (Mon-Fri: 11am-5pm / Sat-Sun: 9am-6pm).
We approached the market from the centre of town and were at first a little underwhelmed. We walked past a row of small, numbered wooden stalls; most of them were closed and the handful that were open were selling second hand books.
As we made our way up from the banks of the river to the main road we realised that this was just the fringe of the market and we were only just arriving at the heart of the action. Here we found pavements full of various wares laid out on blankets; elderly locals selling off their possessions.
It was like a giant car boot sale, but the goods weren't just in the boots of the cars – they were on top of the bonnets and the roofs as well! Any available surface was laid out with a variety of possessions; we saw fur coats and rugs hanging from trees, clothing tied to lamp posts and pots and pans hooked onto fences.
The variety of goods for sale was staggering. There was a lot of Soviet war memorabilia and medals, as well as old coins and bank notes. There were fur coats and hats, ancient clocks, jewellery, porcelain products, musical instruments, camera equipment, car stereos, knives, guns, tools, drinking horns, glassware, fridge magnets, rusty old cutlery, children's toys and carpets. Some goods looked reasonably new, while others looked to be decades old. Some goods looked to me as though they would never be sold (old batteries, broken electrical items, oil covered car parts, stained and chipped crockery sets...).
Much of the adjacent park was filled with paintings and other artwork that was for sale.
We didn't buy anything, but it was fascinating to wander around the market looking at the diverse goods that were available for purchase.
The reason for us visiting Didube metro station during our visit to Tbilisi in February 2013 was that one of the city's main marshrutka (minibus) stations is located right next to the metro station. We were catching a marshrutka to nearby Mtskheta.
Didube metro station is located a few miles north of the city centre; 5 and 6 stops respectively from Rustaveli and Tavisuplebis Moedani (Freedom Square) – a ride that takes less than 15 minutes.
On our arrival, we found Didube marshrutka station to be chaotic and confusing. As well as the host of minibuses and buses coming and going, there were market stalls littered around the station and a huge market (with hundreds of stalls and small shops) attached to the station. Our main concern was locating the right marshrutka for Mtskheta, but we vowed that we'd explore the market on our return later in the afternoon.
And so we did...
The station was just as confusing as it had been that morning, but we had plenty of time to wander around and lose ourselves in the chaos without fretting about our onwards transport.
There were lots of stalls selling colourful fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts, spices, popcorn and sweets. We found stalls with dozens of churchkhela (a sweet Georgian snack consisting of a string of nuts in a solidified grape juice) hanging outside them and could smell the aroma of fresh coffee that was being sold nearby.
There was a hall with stalls selling white, salty Georgian cheese and stalls selling meat and fish.
It wasn't all food by any means. There were stalls and shops selling clothing, jewellery, perfumes, electrical items, music, children's toys and household goods. We even saw stalls that were selling guns (and assumed that they were replicas!). Although, the same stalls were also selling large knives!
It was enjoyable just to stroll around the market and pick up a few small foodstuffs, while watching the locals shop. There was nothing touristy about this market – the produce was local, the shoppers were local...and, best of all, the prices were local!
I was lucky that looking to buy something to my friend in Istanbul and I found this gift shop.Two very kind ladies helped me and they were too patient ones:)
And I bought a red dressed Georgian lady..I call her "woman in red".I have white dressed one too:)
It was not so much interesting for me,because I've seen same things in Azarbaijan,Bulgaria,Moldova and Ukraine..soviet red stars,medallions,books,kitsch objects,and some Nazis knifes and objects..therefore I just walked around..but the end of the market I bought a small bibelot(as u see the picture) I paid less than 10$,and he said that it is dated 50 years!!! Good guy:)
Mr.Nukri Lekveishvili was the artist of these beautiful art.All picture made by bird's feather.No bargain:) leave yr money and go:) I asked a small one and was more than 100$..
I think, he is famous one in Tbilisi,does he??
To collect of oil canvas and watercolor are my hobby..I have lots of good paints from Bulgaria.Moldova.Baku,Ukraine,England and Romania.But I couldn't buy any thing here.They think that you are a stupid tourist and you should pay more..and they were so bossy..no bargain..
But I must say that i've seen very nice oil canvas and watercolors..full of talent,skills,amazing colors and perspective of Georgian Arts..Next time:)
What to buy: oil canvas and watercolor
What to pay: you need a local friend..
When buying alkaline batteries for your camera, check out the manufacture date of the batteries. We managed to buy a 2 years old pack, which of course ran out very quickly and we were stuck without a camera in Davit Gareja
Tbilisi is awash with culture, and particularly local art and antiques! Visit the historic Bridge Market, right down town, and meet local artists and vendors and buy some inexpensive souvenirs.
The art at the Bridge Market is varied, though most is fairly low quality by American standards and can be a bit expensive for what you actually get. The artists can also come off as a bit egocentric, awash in self-importance. As such, I would reccomend tourists purchasing old Soviet trinkets, as opposed to art.
Remember - in order to legally export art from Georgia, one has to aquire a tax stamp at a local municiple headquarters. Before buying a desired peice of art work, ask the artist to arrange for this stamp, as it can be quite a hassle for a foreigner. If they don't agree to do this, don't buy it.
What to buy: Original and unique souvenirs! Might want to avoid the art and the egocentric artists.
What to pay: Less than $100
Dry Bridge is the best place if one wants to puy antique things and some nice art work. In Georgian it is called as Mshrali Khidi and it is located close to Rustaveli Ave. and USAID (former US Embassy) building.
This gallery-store is full of gold stuff! The crown in the picture, made in gold and adorned with pearls, amethysts and other precious stones, costs a 5-digit figure in USD!
If i'm not mistaken, the smaller picture frame in the 2nd picture costs several hundred USD.
A large market with people selling just about everything, with loads of Soviet-era kitsch. Of course, one should be careful. Photonina asked about the age of an item, and the seller told her it was old. She looked on the bottom, on which was written, in English, "Made in the U.S.S.R." Well, well....old or not? You decide!
A lot of curvey, baroque-y porcelain tschoskies, dishes, somovars, bit heavy copper items, etc. Some great book sellers though.
Please Note: The photos with this tip are from just outside of the market, which is just down the steps....
What to buy: I really liked this one bookseller. He spoke English, was very interesting, and very well educated. There was, also, something a bit sad and haunting about him. I wish I could have bought more. I just kept wondering what he had done before selling books to make a living at the Dry Bridge Market.
What to pay: Varies
The real chacha is home-made and not sold openly. it is the original Georgian spirit – made of traditional Georgian grape varietals and more or less compared to a grappa...
The real stuff is transparent and can be bought (hidden in a mineral water bottle) in a tiny grocery shop around the corner from hotel Boni.
The souvenir chacha has a pale straw colour and taste-wise has vanilla tones. It can be bought in specialist shops aroung tbilisi. We got it from the "cigar and spirit" shop on leselize street.
What to buy: chacha... one suitable for drinking, one suitable for presents
What to pay: depends on which one you get. a few laris for the first - 18 lari for the souvenir
The quest for real chacha turned out to be a failure - apparentkly the real stuff is illegal and not sold - at least so openly. Still a visit to the market, especially the food section, is always a pleasure. The market is huge - possibly the largest I have ever seen - and difficult to navigate, but if you don't give up, you are bound to hit the foos stalls.
What to buy: Well, food did not look too hygienic, so we gave it a miss. But, hads we needed a new pair of shoes, it would have been the place. It ooked as if half of the market area was covered in shoes stalls
What to pay: very cheap
If you're traveling around the Caucasus, and miss having something to read in English, Prospero's is a must. With an extensive history selection, as well as some great non-fiction works focusing on the region, and a rather impressive collection of travel guides (and not just for Georgia and its neighbors), the shop is far from your ordinary bookstore. In addition to these sections, Prospero's has the standard fiction, mystery/thriller, reference, and children's sections. It also has a VHS video collection if you happen to be traveling with a VCR, or have on in your hotel room.
Prospero's also has a small cafe on one side of the shop, with outdoor seating and a decent selection of drinks. There is a small selection of pastries and foods as well. I wouldn't recommend the cold mint coffee though, as there isn't actually any coffee in it from what we could tell.
What to pay: Prices are fairly equal to what you would pay in the US, though some books are less.
Very nice and cozy shop with lots of cool stuff from Pilgrim and many more.
You can found here clothes and shoes too.