Because of its location on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, and its proximity to the lucrative Silk Road, throughout history Tbilisi was a point of contention between various global powers. The city's location to this day ensures its position as an important transit route for various energy and trade projects. Tbilisi's diverse history is reflected in its architecture, which is a mix of medieval, neoclassical, Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau, Stalinist and the Modern structures.
Historically, Tbilisi has been home to people of multiple cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, though it is currently overwhelmingly Eastern Orthodox Christian. Its notable tourist destinations include cathedrals Sameba and Sioni, Freedom Square, Rustaveli Avenue and Agmashenebeli Avenue, medieval Narikala Fortress, the pseudo-Moorish Opera Theater, and the Georgian National Museum.
The name Tbilisi derives from Old Georgian t′bilisi (თბილისი), and further from tpili (თბილი, "warm"). The name T′bili or T′bilisi (literally, "warm location") was therefore given to the city because of the area's numerous sulphuric hot springs.
Until 1936, the name of the city in English and most other languages was Tiflis, while the Georgian name was ტფილისი (Tpilisi).
On 17 August 1936, by order of the Soviet leadership, the official Russian names of various cities were modified to more closely match the local language. In addition, the Georgian-language form T′pilisi was modernized on the basis of a proposal by Georgian linguists; the ancient Georgian component ტფილი (tpili, "warm") was replaced by the newer თბილი (t′bili). This form was the basis for a new official Russian name (Тбилиси Tbilisi). Most other languages have subsequently adopted the new name form, but some language such as Turkish, Persian, Greek and German have retained a variation of Tiflis.