In Old Tbilisi, regeneration overshadows Eurasia's ancient crossroads

TBILISI, June 2(Reuters) - Lying beneath the imposing Narikala Fortress, the buildings of Old Tbilisi, the Georgian capital's historic quarter, for centuries reflected the city's rule by Mongols, Arabs, Turks and Russians.

Earthquakes and invasions -- much of the pre-19th century city suffered at the hands of Persian invaders in 1795 -- have shaped the old city's cobbled streets and tilting houses.

So too has a drive to regenerate the enchanting, but often dilapidated, neighborhood.

A Reuters photo essay captures the ornate wooden doorways and crumbling facades of buildings still untouched by the redevelopment which is altering the face of Tbilisi.

With its 17-centuries-old citadel, Orthodox churches, decorated columns and balconied houses, Old Tbilisi exudes the charm of an ancient Eurasian crossroads.

(Writing by Mark Hanrahan in London; Editing by Richard Lough)