Tbilisi (Georgian: თბილისი [tʰˈbiliˌsi]), commonly known by its former name Tiflis, and often mispronounced as Tiblisi, is the capital and the largest city of Georgia, lying on the banks of the Kura River with a population of roughly 1.5 million inhabitants. It was founded in the 5th century on the site of natural hot springs, and has since served, with intermissions, as the capital of various Georgian kingdoms and republics. Located on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, due to its proximity to lucrative east-west trade routes Tbilisi has historically been an object of competition between countless rival empires. Later, under Russian rule, from 1801 to 1917 Tiflis was the seat of the Imperial Viceroy governing both sides of the entire Caucasus. Tbilisi's storied past is reflected in its architecture, which is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Neoclassical, Middle Eastern, Art Nouveau, Stalinist and Modernist structures.
Present-day Tbilisi is one of the safest cities in Europe, and frequently ranks among the most popular emerging destinations thanks to Georgia's growing tourism industry. Historically, Tbilisi has been home to people of diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, though it is overwhelmingly Eastern Orthodox Christian. Notable landmarks include cathedrals like Sameba and Sioni, the medieval Narikala Fortress, classical avenues Rustaveli and Agmashenebeli, as well as the exotically-designed Georgian National Opera Theater.
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