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Georgia,  Museum

Joseph Stalin’s Secret Publishing House

In its raggedy streets a bit outside the city center, Tbilisi hides significant gems that visitors or sometimes even locals rarely see. One of them is Joseph Stalin’s Underground Printing House, often neglected from many travel guides.

Secret and underground printing houses are not a new concept, and every big city has some, including Tbilisi. But what makes this one so unique is that it’s in a well. Yes, exactly in a well! Wonder how it was possible? I am glad you asked, keep on reading.

Stalin's Underground Printing house

The house is in Avlabari district, at Kaspi str. #7. You can take a subway to 300 Aragveli station and walk a couple of meters. The massive black door of Stalin’s underground printing house has a red circle on the center with the iconic Soviet symbol – hammer and sickle.

Once you enter, images of Lenin, a 3D image of Stalin greets you, while a large guest book adorn the hallway.  The staff is very excited to see visitors and happily tour you around. There is no entrance fee, but it survives on donations.

The concept of Stalin’s Underground Printing House

It was quite simple. The area looked like a typical, one-floor brick house with a small yard with two housewives. The house had a basement-like ground floor used as the kitchen, while the first floor had two small rooms. Stalin’s underground printing house was right under the kitchen.

The underground printing house was accessible via 17 meter well and a tunnel inside it. While Social-Democratic Party members were printing propaganda, women sat on the balcony doing everyday chores. And ring a bell if they noticed something suspicious.

Stalin's Underground Printing house
Propaganda published here

The work of the printing house

After Soso Jughashvili, a.k.a Joseph Stalin escaped exile, he was a frequent guest of the publishing house and wrote many leaflets. The publishing house operated in 1903-1906 and printed 273,715 pamphlets, newspapers and brochures in total on three languages – Georgian, Russian and Armenian. From here, the propaganda disseminated across Russia and Europe.

Stalin's Underground Printing house
The first man in the first row is Mr. Stalin

On April 15, 1906, police, gendarmerie, and soldiers raided the printing house. They could not find anything after a detailed search of the home and decided to inspect a well. They threw fire-lit paper to light up the walls. The air pressure took it into the secret room. The gendarmerie destroyed the house, but in 1937 it opened as a museum.

The entrance to the publishing room

Unfortunately, today, the museum is in severe condition. It needs renovation and proper infrastructure to exhibit the rare publications of the 20th century.

Centuries-old publishing machine
Stalin's underground printing house
The exit in case of the emergency

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments down below, or connect with me on my social media channels. I will be happy to assist you as much as possible.

Happy Travels! 


Stalin publishing house

Red Fedora Diary is bilingual quality travel resource that inspires people to get out there and see the world on a budget. The blog provides destination information, authentic travel stories and useful information to help everyone travel the world on a budget. Red Fedora Diary focuses on giving honest advice to its readers.

5 Comments

  • Punita

    I am so keen to visit this place after reading your post. The secret getaway is so exciting. Revisiting historical sites like these is something we enjoy a lot.

  • Shaily

    Wow! This place is quite fascinating and a worth visit. I love visiting places that allow you to peep into a bygone era. The entrance to the secret room, the antique publishing machine, the emergency exit and the old walls in ruins – everything tickles your imagination and curiosity to know more about its enigmatic past. Thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of history. 🙂

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