Batumi – a Georgian pearl on the Black Sea
For some, Batumi is Georgia’s Las Vegas, for others it is simply a party capital on the Black Sea. The fact is that this place is traded as the pearl of the Caucasus. This city is a good place to live under the southern sun. Especially in the months of summer when the sea water has an average temperature of 27 degrees and vacationers can still enjoy a tropical climate even in October. Every year around two million tourists come – most of them from Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia and Russia.
Historic center and a promenade
The coastal city at the foot of the mountains of the Caucasus has a lot to offer. In addition to the casinos, a historic center, a sizable beach promenade, the old ferry port, a synagogue, a Catholic church and a mosque. The parks by the sea and the extensive beach, where sports competitions take place and where there are mask parades on some days, are particularly lively and popular. The dolphinarium is by the May 6th Park and boats operate on Lake Nuregeli.
Gambling casinos in two luxury hotels
Wooden balconies adorn the houses in the old town of Batumi. The casinos found their domiciles in the luxurious Sheraton and Radisson Blu hotels. The so-called “Alpha Tower” in Miracles Park on the beach promenade is illuminated after dark and shows the 33 letters of the Georgian Alpabet. The valley station of the Argo cable car is located south of the Technical University. It was opened in 2013 and leads over 2,500 meters to one of Batumi’s local mountains. The view over the city and over the Black Sea is impressive.
A Turkish domestic airport
The proximity to the Turkish border gives Batumi airport a curiosity. It is also considered the Turkish domestic airport. Those who buy a ticket on Turkish soil check in at the bus station in Hopa three hours before the scheduled departure and are chauffeured by bus to Batumi.
Wardsia, historic cave city
The historic cave city of Vardsia is located in southern Georgia, in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region. The structure carved into the rock face of Mount Erusheti is one of the most fascinating destinations when traveling to Georgia. In 1993 the famous cultural monument was registered for UNESCO World Heritage.
From the border fortress to the world heritage of humanity
Giorgi III was the first builder and in the 12th century built a town in the mountain above the Mtkvari River, which was supposed to offer its residents protection from military attacks. The cave dwellings, which are connected by tunnels, terraces, galleries and steps, could accommodate up to 50,000 people in times of danger. 3,000 of these dwellings were spread over up to 13 floors, including a church, treasury, library, stables and bakeries as well as baths that were fed with water from ceramic pipes.
From 1193 to 1195, during the conflict with the Seljuk Turks, the entire complex was used by King Giorgi’s daughter, Tamar. After the death of her father, the devout monarch completed the building and set up a monastery there, in which up to 800 monks lived at times.
An earthquake destroyed many of the apartments, leaving only 750 today.
A labyrinth in the rock
The cave city can be visited via a circular path that leads through a labyrinth of tunnels, serpentine paths and stairs, past the residential caves, over the various floors up the mountain. On the way you can see the historical sleeping places, holes in the floor for fireplaces and some utensils.
Not only participants of study trips and friends of church art will be impressed by the Church of the Assumption, which is carved into the rock. The great hall of the Byzantine chapel impresses with its abundance of colorful frescoes, including the only images of the builders, King Giorgi III and his daughter.
The tours through the cave city are accompanied by the monks who still live there today.
Ananuri fortified church
In the footsteps of traders and warriors
66 kilometers north of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, a remarkable complex of buildings towers over the Aragwi River and the Shinwali reservoir: the fortified church of Ananuri, one of the most interesting sights on the historically significant Georgian military road that connects the Russian city of Vladikavkaz with Tbilisi. Traders and soldiers have been using this route for thousands of years. The construction of a defensive position, which began in the 16th century, should make the much-traveled route safer and deter invaders. Finds show, however, that a castle guarded the green Aragwi valley as early as the 13th century.
The Lords of Ananuri
The Eristawi (= dukes) of Aragwi ruled the strategically interesting and therefore coveted river valley from Ananuri for a long time and shaped the entire region. The castle was repeatedly controversial, attacked, besieged, destroyed and repaired several times – a testament to Georgia’s eventful past.
Castle, monastery, church
The building complex, completed in the 17th century and inhabited until the 19th century, is much more than a place of worship, but more of a fortress: behind the circular wall with its fortified corner towers, buildings that were used religiously, secularly and militarily crouch – in the center the ensemble of castles, which housed a Georgian Orthodox monastery and two churches. A visit to St. Mary’s Church, built in 1689, is an unforgettable experience. Not only some of the nobles of Aragwi are buried here – the church impresses with artistic stone carvings and frescoes. Angels, demons and floral motifs – artistically carved in stone – alternate; one of the ornate reliefs shows the Mother of God in Persian garb. The frescoes from the 17th and 18th centuries Century tell, among other classics of icon painting, the story of the “thirteen Assyrian fathers” who, according to Georgian church history, came to Georgia as monks from Mesopotamia in the 6th century to support Christianity. They are credited with founding some monasteries with an ascetic way of life.