Rustavi (Georgian: რუსთავი [ɾustʰavi]) is a city in the southeast of Georgia, in the region of Kvemo Kartli and 20 km (12 mi) southeast of capital Tbilisi. It has a population of 132,333 (January 2023), making it the fourth most populous city in Georgia. Its economy is dominated by the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant.
Rustavi is one of the ancient towns of Georgia. The history of Rustavi has two phases: an early history from ancient times until the city was destroyed in the 13th century and modern history from the Soviet era to the present.
The foundation of Rustavi is dated from time immemorial. 11th-century Georgian chronicler, Leonti Mroveli in his work "Georgian Chronicles" connects the foundation of the city to Kartlos, the eponymous ancestor of Georgians, whose wife had founded a town along the Kura river called Bostan-Kalaki (lit. "city of gardens"). The same chronicler, who also worked on “The life of the Kings”, mentions the town Rustavi among those castles, which opposed Alexander the Great's army, although it is proved that Alexander had never invaded Iberia. Rustavi is mentioned among such ancient towns as Uplistsikhe, Urbnisi, Mtskheta and Sarkineti. It could be assumed that Rustavi as a city had been founded at least in the 5th–4th centuries B.C. Besides the manuscripts, the excavations of the castle Rustavi prove that Rustavi was an important political and administrative center of Iberia. In late 4th century A.D Trdat of Iberia had built a church and a canal in Rustavi.