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18 February 2012 / leggypeggy

Georgian palace ‘costs a trifle’

Georgia's Presidential Palace

I had a good laugh when I saw an online article about the newish presidential palace in Tbilisi, Georgia.

The place is ostentatious and ginormous—not as ginormous as the palace in Romania—but still huge. And in 2009, Georgian President Saakashvili said his new glass-domed digs had cost ‘a trifle’ to build—only GEL 13 million  or US$7.8 million.

Oh, pleeze, I don’t think so. Then again, labour and materials must be cheap in Georgia.

The palace overlooks the Mtkvari (Kura) River and covers a massive expanse of land. I’ve tried to find out some of its dimensions, but the only promising sources of information are on YouTube and in a language I don’t even begin to recognise. It was designed by Italina architect, Michel de Lucchi, who also designed the city’s new pedestrian Bridge of Peace.

Poor John and I crossed that bridge to explore Tbilisi’s Avlabari District, where the palace is located. We managed to visit Georgia’s other ginormous structure, the Sameba Cathedral, and also tried to get near the palace. But no luck. We trailed through a labyrinth of small alleys and side streets, constantly running into high concrete walls and local people using hand signals to say ‘go this other way’.

It was a nice day of walking, but not overly productive from a touristic point of view. We did, however, find a much-sought-after padlock.

Our best view of the palace ended up being from the other side of the river. That position gave us an idea of how huge it is, but no idea of how opulent it might be.

President Saakashvili seems to think it’s pretty good, ‘This palace is not so rich, but it is the most perfect, modern palace, which has ever been built by anyone or anywhere in the modern world.’

He really should drop by the Madman’s Palace in Bucharest.

Hey, don’t forget to pick a number before 29 February 2012.

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