The development of the Abastumani observatory is mainly associated with the life of the Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, the brother of the future Tsar Nicholas II, who had retired in the Georgian’s Meskheti mountains due to his poor breathing condition.The purity and the stability of the air in the Abastumani mountains were not only beneficial to his lungs but also for night sky observation. As an amateur astronomer he lead the construction of a small observatory on the site in 1892, making it the first permanent telescope of the Russian empire. Unfortunately he died unexpectedly in Abastumani on  August 9, 1899 at the age of 28.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Grand Duke George Observatory, as a scientific object, virtually ceased to exist. The aftermath of the revolution and in 1918 the occupation of Abastumani by Turkish military made it impossible to maintain the first Soviet observatory.
It was not until February 8, 1932  that scientific life in Abastumani restarted with  a resolution of the Soviet of the People’s Commissars leading to the foundation of the Astrophysical Observatory of Abastumani with the 24 years old Eugene Kharadze as its director.
As part of the major space race between the Soviet Union and the USA 14 telescopes  were set up  by the Soviet regime through the years. More than 250 people worked and lived with their families in this restricted area until the fall of the Soviet Union.

The unstable times during the 1990’s with its civil wars, unstable power supplies and lack of money made it almost impossible to operate and maintain the observatory. Of the 14 original telescopes only 2 are still in use. Thank to a handful of dedicated and highly motivated scientists the observatory is still operational. It is mainly focussed on near earth objects and binary solar systems. It has published many important discoveries in internationally acclaimed scientific magazines.



Belarusian Exclusion Zone

The 20th century brought upon Belarus some of the harshest ordeals one can think of. Human technology showed this small but great nation how destructive it can be.
Practically eradicated from the map on 2nd World War – or the Great Patriotic War, as named to the East – Belarus knew, like a Phoenix, how to rise from the ashes and rebuilt itself.
Little over 40 years after the end of the war Belarus saw itself being again invaded, this time by a silent force: the radioactive cloud emerging from the #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plan explosion. This led to massive displacements and the closure of a large area in the south of the country.
Now, 30 years passed over the accident, the authorities partially opened the region to organized visits. The Pripyat Radiation Reserve is probably the biggest de-humanized area in Europe and even in the world. For all this time nature, slowly but steadily, regained its rule over man.



If you are in a revolutionary mood; we have selected 3 spots in Tbilisi and surroundings for you to follow the footsteps of young Stalin


On December 18, 1878, Ioseb Jughashvili, better known to the world under the self-adopted nickname “Stalin” was born in the small town of Gori in central Georgia.

The Joseph stalin museum is now one of the most popular attractions in the city. The museum is full of memorabilia and historical documents including the death mask of Stalin. It probably will let most visitors leave with a mixed taste in their mouths.  Conveniently any mentioning of the dark side of the Soviet regime is missing.Another great highlight of this very controversial museum is a visit to Stalin’s personal railway carriage.  The green Pullman wagon, parked right in front of the museum,  brought Stalin to the Yalta conference. It is armoured and weighs over 83 tons.

Freedom Square

Freedom Square, formerly known as Yerevan – and later as Lenin Square during the Soviet Union times, was the stage of one of the biggest bank heists at the start of the 20th century.

On June 26, 1907 the Bolsheviks, lead by young Joseph Stalin, did a robbery of the State Bank of the Russian Empire in Tbilisi. They did so in order to support their revolution. Using guns and hand grenades, a handful of revolutionaries attacked one of the bank’s horse coaches which was transporting money in Yerevan Square to the bank, killing forty people and several horses in the process. The robbers escaped with 341,000 rubles, now the equivalent of 3.86 million USD. But despite the successful heist the Bolsheviks were unable to use most of the bank notes because the serial numbers were known to the police.

Stalin’s Underground Printing House

Another significant act of young Stalin was the set-up of a secret underground printing space in order to help spreading the socialist revolution in the Caucasus area. It was located in the basement under a small house in the center of Tbilisi. The only way to get to the underground press was going down the well located in the yard. An underground tunnel connected the well and the printing space.

From 1903 to 1906 the Bolsheviks printed thousands of trilingual brochures (Georgian, Russian, and Armenian) on an old German press. Today the complex, still owned by the Georgian communist party, is, due to lack of money, in a very dire condition and in need of immediate restorations

Check out the map below to plan your route for a tour of the best Soviet milstones of Tbilisi and surrounding, or join us along our Tbilisi ‘s Soviet Concrete Walking Tour for more discovers !.