Can a city be the most ancient and the youngest one in the country at the same time? Sure, it can! Rustavi city is located in the southeast of Georgia, 25 km away from Tbilisi, in Kvemo Kartli region. The city with population of 127,00 people is situated on the Kura River. The river acts as a natural border that divides city into two parts: Dzveli Rustavi – Old Rustavi and Akhali Rustavi-New Rustavi.
How is the city the most ancient and the youngest one in the country at the same time? On one hand, there’re many towns and settlements in Georgia that were destroyed, but revived after some time. On the other hand, Rustavi wasn’t just destroyed by the Mongols in 13th century, it was completely abandoned. That’s why the history of the city has two eras: an ancient one and the Soviet one. Ancient Rustavi was called Bostan-Kalaki; it was founded in 5th or 4th century BC and was a political and administrative center of big significance. Archaeological excavations revealed foundations and walls of buildings, a fortress, a temple, and remnants of irrigation channels. New Rustavi started as a settlement near large metallurgical plant in 1941. When Rustavi was officially proclaimed to be a city the new era started.
Rustavi city became the center of heavy industry in the Soviet Union; there were, approximately, 90 industrial plants from medium to large-sized. The city was a part of Stalin’s plan to make USSR the biggest in industrial Power. Stalin resettled workers from the poorest regions of Georgia and created new work places. The city manufactured synthetic fibers, chemicals, cement, and steel.
The first Georgian steel was produced in this city in 1950. In 1991, when Soviet collapsed, Rustavi city experienced rapid decline; major part of industrial plants was closed and more than half of population became unemployed. Rustavi city is worth visiting for finest examples of Stalin architecture and atmosphere of the Soviet times.