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(ko͞otəē`sē), city (1989 pop. 234,870), W Georgia, on the Rion River. Georgia's second largest city and the country's former legislative capital (2012–18), it has industries producing trucks, mining and transport equipment, textiles, chemicals, and food products. Industry is aided by a large hydroelectric station on the Rion. Kutaisi was the capital of ancient ColchisColchis
, ancient country on the eastern shore of the Black Sea and in the Caucasus region. Centered about the fertile valley of the Phasis River (the modern Rion), Colchis corresponds to the present-day region of Mingrelia in Georgia.
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 (8th cent. B.C.), and the capital of ImeritiaImeritia
, geographic and historic region, Georgia, in the upper Rion River basin. Kutaisi (the historic capital) and Chiatura are the main cities. Imeritia is an agricultural region, noted for its mulberry trees and vineyards. There are also manganese deposits.
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 in the 13th, 15th, and 16th cent. A.D. It was taken by the Russians in 1810. There is some notable medieval architecture, including the ruins of the 11th-century St. George Cathedral, as well as the contemporary, glass-domed former parliament building (2012).
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in western Georgian SSR. Situated on both banks of the Rioni, where the river leaves the mountains to enter the Colchis lowland. Kutaisi is connected by two railroad branches to the Transcaucasian Railroad and by highways to Tbilisi, Sukhumi, Batumi, and the Northern Caucasus (the Ossetian Military Road). The population was 166,000 in 1972 (48,000 in 1926; 78,000 in 1939; and 128,000 in 1959).

Kutaisi is the oldest city of the Kingdom of Colchis (sixth to third centuries B.C.) in Western Georgia. It became the capital of Colchis in the 780’s. From the tenth century until the liberation of Tbilisi from the Seljuk Turks in 1122, Kutaisi was the residence of the Georgian kings, and in the 15th century it became the center of the Imeretian Kingdom. Conquered by the Turks in the 1660’s, the city was liberated in 1770 by Russian and Imeretian troops. It became part of Russia in 1810, and from 1846 it developed into the chief city of Kutaisi Province and a center for trade and handicrafts. From the 1850’s, Kutaisi was a center of Georgia’s public, political, and cultural life. The Imeretian-Mingrelian Committee of the Caucasian Union of the RSDLP, which was organized in the city in 1903, followed the program advocated by Lenin in the newspaper Iskra and benefited from the revolutionary work of A. G. Tsulukidze and P. A. Dzhaparidze. Soviet power was proclaimed in Kutaisi on Mar. 10, 1921. The city was the birthplace of N. Ia. Nikoladze, N. Ia. Marr, Z. P. Paliashvili, and V. I. Kikvidze.

Under Soviet power Kutaisi has become a major industrial center of the Georgian SSR, second only to Tbilisi. It is the site of machine-building, chemicals, light industrial, and food-processing industries. The largest plants are the Kutaisi Automobile Plant, a tractor plant that produces small tractors, an electrical motor engineering plant that produces equipment for the petroleum and gas industry, a lithopone plant, which processes local barite, a cannery, a silk combine, leather footwear combine, a glass container plant, and building-materials enterprises. The Rioni and Gumati hydroelectric power plants supply the city with electricity.

Kutaisi’s educational institutions include a pedagogical institute, a department of the Georgian Polytechnic Institute, min ing, automotive, timber technology, and cooperative technicums, and medical, music, and cultural-educational schools. Among its cultural institutions are a museum of history and ethnology, the A. G. Tsulukidze Museum House, the Z. P. Paliashvili Museum House, a picture gallery, and opera, drama, and puppet theaters.

Picturesquely located on the Rioni River, Kutaisi has retained a medieval appearance, with an intricate network of streets and alleys. On the right bank one- and two-story whitestone and brick homes with glass-enclosed galleries have been built on the steep mountain slopes. Located in the center of left-bank Kutaisi, which was built in the late 19th century and the early 20th, is a rectangular garden. In front of it is a spacious public square. In the Soviet period the streets and squares have been rebuilt and public buildings and apartment buildings have been erected. Large-scale housing construction is under way in the outlying district, where the streets are broad and straight. A monument to Lenin has been erected (bronze and granite, 1958; sculptor K. M. Merabishvili). Kutaisi is the site of the ruins of Bagrat’s Temple (completed in 1003, destroyed in 1691). The Satapli Preserve, which features a karst cave, is located near the city.


Meskhiia, Sh. A. Goroda i gorodskoi stroi feodal’noi Gruzii. Tbilisi, 1959.
Ars Georgica, vol. V. Tbilisi, 1959. Pages 91–122.
Mepisashvili, G. I., and D. P. Khurtsidze. Kutaisi. Putevoditel’ Tbilisi, 1966.
Ch’akvetadze, V. K’ut’aisis istoriidan. Tbilisi, 1960.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an industrial city in W Georgia on the Rioni River: one of the oldest towns of the Caucasus. Pop.: 175 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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