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.
The secret and underground printing house is 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.
The house is in Avlabari district, at Kaspi str. #7. You can take a subway to 300 Aragveli
Once you enter, images of Lenin, a 3D image of Stalin greets you, while a large guest book
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 a 17-meter deep 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.
The work they did at the Underground 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.
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 the 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.
Unfortunately, today, the museum is in severe condition. It needs renovation and proper infrastructure to exhibit the rare publications of the 20th century.
Prepare for the trip
To ease your travel planning, check out all the posts about Georgia travel. Additionally, here are some of the websites and services I use when preparing for my next adventure anywhere in the world.
– Book affordable flights on Kiwi.com, a platform that shows the best routes and flight deals to your destination. There’s a money-back guarantee if you miss the flight!
– Check iVisa to see if you need a tourist visa to visit Georgia, how to apply online if applicable, or where’s the nearest embassy or consulate
– Find budget-friendly deals on all sorts of accommodation types on Booking and Agoda, or find a cool apartment on Airbnb and get $34 off on your first stay (my invite expires in 30 days after you sign up! )
– Pre-book a private car transfer from Tbilisi Airport to your hotel
– Buy the most flexible and budget-friendly travel insurance, SafetyWing, to cover all sorts of health problems on the road