The sulphur baths are intimately connected with Tbilisi. It is said that the hot springs are why the city was built here. High in sulphurs and other minerals, with a constant temperature of 38C to 40C, the waters have long been used as a therapeutic aid for a range of ailments including skin conditions and arthritis.
Naturally fed public sulphur baths have been essential part of life in Tbilisi for centuries. Citizens would spend their leisure time relaxing here, even giving formal dinner-parties in the baths. The local match-makers could sometimes be bribed to allow illicit glimpses of naked bodies.
Alexander Pushkin was just one of many famous people to have taken the waters, and he certainly enjoyed the experience: ‘I have never encountered anything more luxurious than this Tbilisi bath’, he wrote.
Located on Abano (bath) Street the underground public bath houses in use today are characterised from the outside by their rows of low cupola. The oldest is Erekle’s Bath, whilst the most externally ornate is ‘Chreli Abano’ with its towering facade of decorated tiles.