The Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena will stage the 2015 UEFA Super Cup on 11 August, with the capital of Georgia boasting a noble football heritage – and some great cuisine.
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The stadium now known as the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena first opened in 1936, boasting a capacity of 23,000. Following its modernisation in 1976, that figure rose to 75,000, though it has come down to 54,000 since it became an all-seater arena in 2007. Initially named in honour of Soviet-era security chief Lavrenti Beria, and later Vladimir Lenin, it has borne the name of Boris Paichadze – a notable FC Dinamo Tbilisi player whose career peaked in the 1940s – since Georgia gained independence in 1991.
When UEFA elected to stage the 2015 UEFA Super Cup in Tbilisi, many fans in the city saw it as an opportunity to get some kind of closure. Dinamo Tbilisi should have had a chance to compete for the UEFA Super Cup in 1981 after they won the European Cup Winners' Cup, but they could not agree a date with European Champion Clubs' Cup holders Liverpool FC – whom they had beaten 3-0 in Tbilisi two years earlier.
One of the host cities for the 1985 FIFA World Youth Championship, Tbilisi has not seen games of that stature for some time now, though former Dinamo Tbilisi man Kakha Kaladze – the current deputy prime minister of Georgia – helped raise his countrymen's spirits when he won the UEFA Champions League as an AC Milan player in 2003 and 2007. However, the likes of Germany, England, Italy and France have witnessed the lively atmosphere that can be generated when the Dinamo Arena holds international matches.
The year 2015 is a busy one for sport in Tbilisi, with the Georgian capital staging the European Weightlifting Championship, the Judo Grand Prix, the European Youth Olympic Festival, the IRB Tbilisi Cup for rugby and the Triathlon World Championship, as well as the UEFA Super Cup.
Founded in the fifth century, Tbilisi remains Georgia's industrial and cultural heart, as well as a significant hub for the whole Caucasus region. Its name derives from an old Georgian word meaning "warm"; local legend has it that a pheasant shot by King Vakhtang I Gorgasali fell into a hot spring and boiled, which impressed the king so much that he ordered a town to be founded on the site. There are still sulphurous thermal baths in the Abanotubani quarter, while the famous Narikala fortress and Mount Mtatsminda offer tremendous views of the city. Georgia's food and wine – and the polyphonic table singing that occasionally accompany it – have a rightly stellar reputation.
By plane – Tbilisi International Airport is 20km outside the centre of the capital, to which it is connected by regular bus and train services. Georgia has two more international airports, in Kutaisi (245km from Tbilisi) and in the Black Sea port of Batumi (380km away).
By train – Tbilisi Central Station is the biggest railway hub in Georgia, sited just two blocks away from the Boris Paichadze Dinamo Arena. Regular services to the capital come from Batumi (Makhinjauri Station is 13km from Batumi Airport) and Kutaisi (Samtredia Station being 15km from Batumi Airport).
By public transport – The location of the Boris Paichadze National Stadium is equidistant from the Tsereteli and Sadguris Moedani I metro stations. Regular buses will also serve the stadium for the UEFA Super Cup.
By road – The new E60 motorway links Tbilisi to the cities of western Georgia. It takes five hours to drive to the capital from Batumi, and three hours from Kutaisi. Roads on either side of the river Kura make Tbilisi a comfortable driving city, with two of the ten road bridges close to the stadium.