The leaning tower of Tbilisi is one of the city’s most unusual buildings. Tucked into a side street of old town, it truly is a bizarre structure, with a tower on the perpetual brink of falling down, and only a steel beam holding the tower in place. A huge clock sits in the middle of the disheveled tower, with a leaning column on its side.
While an incredibly odd sight, it’s not an old structure. It is a modern tower, attached to the puppet theatre of renowned puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze. He himself is the brainchild behind the structure, as well as the building to its side, which houses the actual theatre. Gabriadze built the theatre himself over a timespan of thirty years, reusing old pieces from abandoned structures of the old town, and from buildings destroyed following a major earthquake. The weird clock tower was added in 2011, after a four-year construction phase.
It’s hard not to fall in love with the playful, naive architecture of the tower. This is especially true when on the hour, a window opens at the small balcony at the top, and a mannequin of an angel strikes the bell. Below the clock, a screen opens and shows the circle of life: boy meets girl, marriage, childbirth and funeral.
Aside from being a magnificent and truly unique structure, the tower is also an impressive statement against soulless urban modernization, and the semi-identical glass-and-steel structures that continue to pop up in nearly every city on the planet – including Tbilisi. While modern structures continue to appear in Tbilisi, large parts of the old town are in a shocking state of disrepair, and while a lot of reconstruction work has been carried out, the city’s government seems to be more eager to set modern landmarks than preserve the old ones.