House of Melik-Azaryants, Tbilisi

The House of Melik-Azaryants in Tbilisi, Georgia is a historical monument located on central Rustaveli Avenue.

Alexander Melik-Azaryants was a wealthy Armenian merchant from Tbilisi, and his home played an important role in the development of the surrounding neighbourhoods. The house itself, built in 1912-1915 by a Russian architect from Saint Petersburg, is an outstanding example of the modernist style of architecture common in Tbilisi at the time.

The home was built according to the Art Nouveau style and based on textural contrast. The face of the home is embellished with ornamentation, stone-carved garlands, and Czech sculptural reliefs, while the backs is adorned with traditional Tbilisian wooden balconies.

An interesting story surrounds the construction of The House of Melik-Azaryants. Azaryants asked the mayor of Tbilisi to allocate a place where he could build a large, multipurpose complex. The mayor offered him a landfill, and although the thought of building a house on such a site initially outraged the merchant, he eventually accepted the offer.

Construction started in 1912 and ended in 1915. It was the first multifunctional, modern-style house in all of Europe and Russia at the time, and included hotel rooms, shops, a photo salon, preschool, cinema, art gallery and a beautiful garden. The house was equipped with electricity, heating and running water, an unusual innovation at that time. Tragically, the only daughter of Merchant Azaryants passed away before construction on the home could be completed, and the grieving father dedicated the building to her in memory. The home has a sad, ascetic appearance, thanks in large part to its teardrop windows and funeral wreaths.

During the Soviet Era, Melik-Azaryants’s property, including the house, was nationalised. The merchant died in poverty, leaving the unique home in his memory.

The mansion came under threat of demolition several times, particularly during the Communist period. Thankfully, it survived, and today it stands proudly as one of Tbilisi’s cultural heritage monuments. The history and innovative architecture of The House of Melik-Azaryants in Tbilisi speak of the bittersweet life of its merchant owner and the tumultuous times in which he lived.