How is the Urban Identity of Mtskheta Residents Represented in the External Image of the City

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After the collapse of the Soviet Union the political, social and economic changes affected every spare of the life of the citizens as well as the institutions. The postsocialist cities similarly undergo the rapid changes due to the migrations, privatizations, large scale illegal constructions and chaotic urban development (Tsenkova, 2012, Mariotti & Koželj, 2016). While studying the urban planning in post-socialist cities Sasha Tsenkova admits, that ‘urban-planning reforms have been initiated decade after the fall of communist regimes in an environment dominated by arguments for restricting planning and favoring private entrepreneurship’ (2012). Similarly, to the other postsocialist states, the Georgian state started to pay attention to the urban planning issue later and started to work on the general urban plan developments in the second decade of twenty-first century. Beside the capital of Georgia, the urban planning processes started in the relatively small-size cities. The focus of our work is the urban development trends of historical capital of Georgia – Mtskheta. The project aims to conserve of the historical image of the city in order to keep the status of UNESCO world cultural heritage. Alongside this process the strengthening of historic image of Mtskheta city became essential. Dirk Verheyen connects image of the city with the urban identity and presents it as “two sides of the coin” as “cities endeavor to sell their internal identity as external image” (Verheyen, 1997: 44). The urban identities are designed historically and it composes city architecture, monuments, cultural life, human, economic activities, street names and so on. According to Visar Hoxha, Kaliopa Dimitrovska Andrews and Alenka Temeljotov Salaj (2014) the relationship between the space and identity is equivocal as residents get their inspirations from the local surroundings (which strengthens their identity) as well as express their identities “in the material culture of brick, stone, marble and concrete, just as they do in literature and art” (2014:77). The aim of our presentation is to study the factors determining the Mtskheta Urban identity. The object of the study is the local population. The presentation in based on the qualitative and quantitative researches done among the population of Mtskheta in 2019 financed by the Partnership “Akolis” who is responsible entity for preparing the Master Plan of Mskheta City. Within the quantitative research survey covered 465 local residents (using stratified sample design); The method for collecting information was face-to-face interviews using structured questionnaire. Withing the qualitative research eight focus groups were conducted (6-9 participants in each group). In the presentation we will discuss the knowledge of the locals about the city in general, its boarders, religious and archeological sites and their level of urban satisfaction. Furthermore, we will reveal how the attitudes and urban identity of locals creates the external image of the city.
Urban Identity, External Image of the City, Urban Satisfaction