Abkhazia: antique atmosphere and mountain landscapes

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Main facts:

  • Capital city: Sukhumi

  • Language (s): Abkhazian, Russian

  • Currency: Russian ruble, RUB

  • Population: 243,500

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Orthodoxy

  • Standard of living (subjective): low

  • Attention: partially recognized state, officially part of Georgia.

Top 10 interesting places and activities:

  • Walk along the embankment of the capital city Sukhumi

  • Visit the botanical garden in Sukhumi

  • Visit the Seaside Park and the Colonnade in Gagra

  • Visit Iupshara gorge and enjoy the ridges of the Caucasus

  • Dip into the icy waters of the Blue Lake and feel the calm and delight in the contemplation of the Lake Ritsa

  • Raise blessings in one of the most beautiful Christian monasteries in the Caucasus of New Athos

  • Immerse yourself in the depths of the New Athos Cave

  • Rise to the most ancient Orthodox Bedia Cathedral and contemplate the panorama of the Great Caucasus

  • Taste traditional Abkhazian wine in the village of Lykhny

  • Relax on the beaches of the Black Sea coast in Pitsunda and Gagra

Approximate costs (person/day):

~€ 5-20

~€ 0,5-3

~€ 5-10

~€ 2-6

Sights map of Abkhazia

Travel around Abkhazia

The short history of Abkhazia is full of pain and suffering, armed conflicts and the struggle for freedom and independence. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, this territory was an autonomous region within the Georgian SSR, but in 1992 declared its independence from Georgia. The Georgian government did not accept such an option, as a result, the Georgian-Abkhaz war broke out, fueled by ancient inter-ethnic contradictions. This conflict led to a huge number of Abkhaz refugees to Russia (more than 250,000 people), more than 16,000 deaths and a huge political and national chasm between Abkhazia and Georgia, which has not been overcome to this day.

As a result of several armed conflicts in 1992-1994. Abkhazia has almost completely lost the foundation of its economy, most of the new country was destroyed and fell into neglect. This situation can be observed throughout the region to this day (at least look at the building of the Council of Ministers in Sukhumi). Since the region is not recognized in the world as a full-fledged state, it has no opportunity to establish interstate contacts and communications, as a result Abkhazia is isolated and almost completely dependent on Russia. Moreover, almost every citizen here has Russian citizenship (largely due to the loss of the status of Georgian citizens), and the bulk of the budget is replenished by Russian public investments.

 

The main source of income for local residents are Russian tourists who come here for a holiday vacation and to visit natural attractions. Also, there are trying to engage in agriculture and winemaking, but the poor organization of this process and the high level of poverty among the population does not allow for large-scale production. In fact, tourism for Abkhazia is currently the only significant source of budget replenishment. And despite all the difficulties in the history of this state, there is every reason to believe that gradually life will be adjusted here. Meanwhile, the flow of tourists here is growing year by year, and there are good reasons for this!

Abkhazia is a rather poor region. Due to armed clashes and the refusal of international recognition, local residents lack access to virtually all business development opportunities. Their only salvation is Russian tourists that are visiting the famous Black Sea resorts Gagra and Pitsunda, as well as going on excursions to ancient monuments of culture and nature.

You can drive and fully explore Abkhazia in a couple of days. Thanks to the restored roads, you can easily visit all the main attractions of the country (public transport is very bad). I recommend to visit the capital of the country Sukhumi, walk along its long embankment with incredible landscapes and botanical garden. Then go to the nearby beautiful New Athos Monastery, located on the spurs of the Caucasus Mountains. Its golden domes outside and colorful paintings inside will amaze the imagination of even a sophisticated tourist! And next to the monastery is the famous New Athos cave - the largest cave in the Caucasus with a depth of 183 m and a length of transitions of about 3 km. In it you can see huge stalactites and stalagmites, underground rivers and lakes, and even take a ride on this underground train!

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Further I recommend to go to the old town of Gagra, famous for its medical sanatoriums, to visit in it the Seaside Park and the famous Colonnade - one of the symbols of the culture of Abkhazia. And the end of the acquaintance with Abkhazia will be a trip along the Iupshara canyon - the most beautiful gorge among the spurs of the Caucasus Mountains, laid to the alpine lake Ritsa. On the way to it you can visit another colorful place - Blue Lake, which has an unusual rich azure color. But the real pearl of Abkhazia is rightly considered Lake Ritsa - a huge reservoir with cold glacial water, surrounded on all sides by picturesque mountains. This lake was the favorite resting place of Stalin and Khrushchev, who rebuilt their summer cottages on its shore. Such beauty is rarely where you can meet, so I strongly recommend to visit this place!

Although Abkhazia is a small poor region on the Black Sea coast, many beautiful places can be found here. Today it is calm and quiet here, sincere and hospitable. Most locals are extremely welcome to any tourist and will be happy to meet and help everyone they can. You should not go to this place for world masterpieces of architecture, culture or nature - here, on the contrary, you can enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

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