Bird's-Eye View of a City, Possibly Tiflis (Tbilisi, Georgia)


This photograph is a stunning, early 20th-century view of Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia, then called Tiflis in Russian. As seen in this southeast view taken from Saint David’s Hill, most of the city is located on a plain formed by the Kura (Mt'k'vari) River, visible in the upper part of the photograph. On the right bank of the river ascend the hills that form the Trialeti Range. Throughout the city are Georgian Orthodox churches culminating in distinctive conical domes. Tbilisi is believed to have been founded in the fifth century by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian ruler of an ancient kingdom known as Iberia. Settlements on the site had existed much earlier. In the sixth century Tbilisi became the capital of the region, a status it retained through centuries of turbulent history. In 1801 the Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti was annexed to the Russian Empire, and in 1991 Tbilisi became the capital of an independent Georgia. The image is by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944), who used a special color photography process to create a visual record of the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. Some of Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographs date from about 1905, but the bulk of his work is from between 1909 and 1915, when, with the support of Tsar Nicholas II and the Ministry of Transportation, he undertook extended trips through many parts of the empire. In 1905 and in 1912 he traveled in the Caucasus, including the territory of Georgia.

Date Created

Subject Date

Title in Original Language

Вид с высоты птичьего полета на город, возможно Тифлис (Тбилиси, Грузия)

Type of Item

Physical Description

Glass negative (presented as a digital color composite)


  • Prokudin-Gorskii’s photographic work survives primarily in two forms: 1,901 black-and-white triple-frame glass plate negatives, made with color separation filters, which Prokudin-Gorskii used to make color prints and lantern slides; and 12 albums of sepia-tone prints, made from the glass negatives, which Prokudin-Gorskii compiled as a record of his travels and studies. The Library of Congress purchased the glass plate negatives and the albums from the Prokudin-Gorskii family in 1948. In 2004, the Library of Congress had digital color composites made from all the surviving glass negatives using a software algorithm to automatically align the color components. As with most historical photographs, title and subject identifications are corrected and enhanced through new research. Current information on the collection is at

Last updated: July 9, 2015