Vake Park, Tbilisi: Concrete and Urban Decay in Autumn

I’m loving Vake Park (ვაკის პარკი). It’s such a huge city park in Tbilisi with lots of small elevations, sculptures, fountains, and concrete paths. And it’s all fighting the battle between culture and nature. Nature is trying hard to decay that shit and reclaim the concrete, especially in autumn now. I think it’s quite beautiful. More beautiful than the more universally-accepted Lisi Lake. Despite its sometimes shabby looks, there are still many Tblisites (Tblisians?) coming here to enjoy a walk and some fresh air. Old men who’d probably be really good at chess, grandmothers with their grandchildren bored in the daytime, and youngsters on bikes after school all come here to sit on a bench and have a chat or simply stare into the void.

vake park urban decay city park vake park urban decay neglect tbilisi georgia

Of course, this city park decay is the consequence of the local government letting it fall into disrepair. You can see that Vake Park once was a shiny Soviet park back when it opened in 1946 as Victory Park. It goes by Vake Park or Vakis Park today—’Vake’ means ‘plain’, which refers to the landscape. The makers put in a lot of effort to tame and shape the landscape into what it is today. It wouldn’t take much to fix the current issues – just minimum maintenance – but there seems little interest in making it more lively again. That’s probably why some rich people are trying to build a hotel inside this public green space.

vake park in autumn guerilla gardeners protest camp tbilisi georgia

You might know that I’ve been living in this park for a while. There’s this ongoing protest against the building of a hotel, and that grassroots movement accepts travelers in their cause. We camp at a central spot, organize food semi-regularly (who knew Georgia would be this good for dumpster diving?), and plant trees in the foundation of the cleared construction site so that they can’t continue taking this park away from Tbilisi’s residents. We also picked up trash in the forest once, which resulted in too much trash for the dumpster… And we only did one tiny corner of the park.

vake park urban decay protect the trees protest camp tbilisi 2014 georgia Vake Park Tbilisi Georgia urban decay fountains autumn

The population of this park seems to just come and go and come and go. The majority are travelers like me. Some leave fast, some stick around for a while. I came back here after Abkhazia and even found the rotting remnants of the old sign Ensar and I used to fundraise for his trip. It said something about hitchhiking to Japan. I wonder if he’s already in Yakutsk or something like that. The weather is growing colder and it will soon be time for me to travel southward. What am I waiting for? Oh yeah, my Iranian visa.

vake park tbilisi georgia in autumn

(Originally published 24 Sep 2014 @18:07): #Decay at #VakePark, #Tbilisi, #Georgia #thecountrynotthestate (at Vake Park)

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