The history of Bolnisi is the history of Suebian emigrants leaving their home in spring of 1817 to establish new settlements in the Caucasus.
One of them was Katharinenfeld, named after Queen Catherine of Württemberg, a sister of Tsar Alexander I. Economic hardship and religious isolation forced the so called Suebian Pietist to take this step. After the early years with epidemics, robberies and serious economic problems Katharinenfeld developed mid 19th Century to a flourishing community with five football teams, a German newspaper, an elementary school, a Lutheran church, a hunting club and a theater group. In 1921 the city was renamed by the communists in Luxembourg. In1941 Stalin made all Germans, who were not married with Georgians, to be deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan, a total of 6,000 people. Since 1944, the city is called Bolnisi. Today only a few residents of German origin are living in Bolnisi; but in some areas one can still recognize German architecture.
The legacy of the German founders is maintained in a small museum and in the small Lutheran congregation, which has been reinstalled after the end of the Soviet Union. Today 85% of the approximately 17.000 inhabitants are ethnic Georgians, the rest are mostly of Azerbaijani descent. A bilingual commemorative plaque reminds the fate of the German population in the city center.
The city is living from agriculture, the cultivation of grapes and vegetables. Near Bolnisi gold is mined. It is also the administrative center of the surrounding area.
Bolnisi houses one of the oldest Christian churches of Georgia, Sioni Church. It dates back to the 5th century. One can find pagan elements in its walls.
In Bolnisi there once were three mills. On the foundations of earlier Kötzle Mill the new hotel and restaurant “German Mill Bolnisi “was built in the years 2010 – 2013 in a traditional stone and wood construction the. There are no usable sources about the history of Kötzle mill. The building is listed only in a plot plan of the old Katharinenfeld.