We travel the western of the country through Batumi, Guria and Svaneti, three regions located on the banks of black sea.
Towards the Black Sea, in the Goderdzi Pass, nomadic peoples farm the land in idyllic and misty mountainous surroundings. During the winter, the snowfall is heavy and these people, most of them Muslims, come down from the mountains to the outskirts of Batumi, where the subtropical climate is more favourable for daily life.
Historical tourism, a variety of year-round leisure options and an abundance of sunny days are what resorts such as Kvariati and Gonio have to offer. With long, quiet beaches, they are very popular among citizens of western Georgia. On the border with Turkey, they are also very close to Batumi, a coastal city with an appealing Botanical Garden, home to thousands of exotic plants and over 100 species of Caucasian origin.
However, what really makes Batumi a cosmopolitan city is its Port, the gateway to Europe via the Black Sea and the external maritime link of a country which is prospering, thanks to its continuing cultural, artistic and commercial exchanges with other countries. As well as the mythical statue of Medea, Batumi, the administrative centre for the Autonomous Republic of Adjara, has impressive monuments that are spectacularly beautiful when lit up at night.
The Region of Guria is north of Adjara, in the western part of the country, and its name means “The Land of the Restless,” an appropriate term for a very active people who masterfully interpret an art form that is now inscribed in UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Polyphonic Singing. It is full of beautiful melodies with a wide thematic repertoire that often proclaims noble Georgian values such as vitality and peace.
In Lake Paleastomi and the wetlands of Kolkheti National Park, over 21 species of migrating birds can be observed. Humans have lived, in these marshlands for centuries, although it has been difficult for them to acclimatize to this rugged and hostile ecosystem that has been a site for diseases such as malaria in the past. Today, this natural paradise entices ecotourists and offers opportunities such as watching water buffalo, huge animals that demonstrate the great biodiversity of the park. Kolkheti is 29,000 hectares large and 10 to 15 metres deep in the marshy areas, which are made up of a sedimentary layer formed over 6,000 years.
The Dadiani Palace-Museum in Zugdidi belonged to a Georgian noble dynasty. Inside, there are a multitude of articles with historical value and objects related to Napoleon Bonaparte, since Salomé Dadiani strengthened the ties between Georgia and Europe by marrying Achille Murat, a nephew of the French Emperor. A little further north, in Jvari, is the tallest Dam in the world, the Enguri Dam, which is 272 metres high. It is a hydroelectric fortress on the Enguri River, whose source is close to Shkhara, the tallest mountain in Georgia. Svaneti is a remote mountain region in the north of Georgia, and Mestia is its most important town.
For thousands of years, Georgian kings and powerful men hid their wealth in the inaccessible mountains of the Region of Svaneti. Today, some of those valuable treasures are on public view in this museum that houses magnificent works of gold and silver, as well as icons from the 9th to the 13th centuries.