Sukhumi, Gagra and Pitsunda
Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia in the far north-west, was until recently a friendly seaside resort and port, known for beautiful beaches lined with palm and eucalyptus trees, lively outdoor cafes and a colorful mix of people. The fortress, the botanical garden, the monkey farm and the castle ruins of the Georgian king Bagrat (11th century) are well-known sights of this city. Sukhumi is a cultural center with numerous museums and theaters. Numerous ethnic groups lived here seemingly harmoniously for decades before the civil war reached the city and many residents fled the conflict. Travel must be discouraged at the moment. The most popular resorts in the region, Gagra and Pitsunda, cannot be visited at the moment either. They are north of Sukhumi. Gagra has numerous sights, its history as a spa town began around the turn of the century. Pitsunda is more modern and offers a variety of recreational opportunities.
- Andyeducation: Introduction to education system in Georgia, including compulsory schooling and higher education.
In Gori (95 km west of Tbilisi), the birthplace of Stalin, you can visit the fortress (12th century) and the Church of St. George (16th century). The museum and park, which served to glorify Stalin and his achievements, have been “temporarily” closed for several years. Gori has the only remaining public statue of the statesman. The Uplistike Caves 10km east of town are worth a detour. Between the 6th century B.C. They were inhabited in the 15th and 14th centuries, and over time shops, a theater, other public buildings, huge wine cellars and a dungeon were built. 10 km south of Gori in an enchanting setting stands the Atenis Sioni Church, famous for its stone carvings and frescoes.
The capital, Tbilisi (Tiflis), is set amid mountain ranges in the Mtkvari Valley and has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. The best view of the almost Mediterranean-looking city with its vine-covered courtyards and narrow streets is from Mtatsminda Hill. The old town quarter is particularly worth seeing, with its numerous churches known for their beautiful frescoes. The Sioni Cathedral (6th century) and the Metekhi Church are particularly magnificent(13th century). The pretty 19th-century houses with their open arcades give the district its unmistakable character. The imposing public buildings on Prospekt Rustaveli, the main shopping street, bear witness to the city’s wealth at the turn of the century. The Georgian State Museum (beautiful icon collection, numerous frescoes and porcelain exhibits) is definitely worth seeing. The section with ornaments from pre-Christian tombs is outstanding. The Georgian National Museum of Art in the city center has many works by the extremely popular naïve painter Niko Pirosmani. The State Philharmonic Hall is located on Davit-Aghmaschenebeli Prospect, which is also the seat of the internationally renowned Georgian dance group. Narikala Fortress, built by the Persians in the 4th century, was last remodeled and expanded in the 17th century. Sulfur springs still provide healing powers in the oriental-style bath with its domed roof (19th century) not far from Metekhi Bridge. In the open- air museum in one of the western suburbs you can see the typical farmhouses of the different regions and other interesting artefacts.
Bordzomi, Bakuriani and Batumi
The mineral water source from the Bordzomi spa (150 km west of Tbilisi) is said to be a true fountain of health. The hilly surroundings of the town offer good hiking opportunities. Bakuriani, 29 km south-east of Bordzomi, is 1700 m high in the Gudauri ski area and is once planned as an international winter resort. The local luxury hotel complex is under the same management as the Metekhi Palace Hotel. About halfway between Bordzomi and Bakuriani is the medieval Daskij monastery (12th century) and a 60 m high waterfall. In summer there are also excursions to Tabatskuri Lake, a deep mountain lake.
The Black Sea port of Batumi is near the Turkish border on the scenic Caucasian Riviera, which stretches north to the Russian city of Novorossiysk. The friendly seaside resort in southwest Georgia is the capital of the Adjar Autonomous Republic, which is known for tea cultivation. The almost Turkish flair can be felt everywhere, there is even a Turkish bath (19th century). When strolling through the city, it is advisable to see the old town with its winding streets, the pretty sea park, the imposing theater and the oceanarium. A visit to the local history museum (interesting exhibition of national costumes) and the circus provide additional variety. The houses of the tree-lined Stalina Prospekt, one of the main streets, have ornate facades.
The former capital Mtskheta at the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers (20 km north of Tbilisi) was the center of Christianity until the 12th century. Said to have been built on the site where Christ’s crucifixion cloak was found in AD 328, Sveti Cheveli Cathedral has long been the country’s holiest site. The cathedral, whose name means ‘pillar of life’, is a masterpiece of 15th-century native architecture. Impressive royal tombs, a beautiful altar with icons and magnificent carvings and stucco work are among its main attractions. The Samtavro Monastery was founded in the 11th century, the architecture of the Jvari Cathedral had a lasting influence on church building in Georgia.