Must see places in Abkhazia
07 September, 2018
Must see places in Abkhazia
Abkhazia is situated in the northwestern region of Georgia. It covers 8,660 square kilometres (3,340 sq mi) and has a population of around 240,000. Its capital is Sukhumi. There are plenty of places worth visiting in Abkhazia.

However, as Georgia does not now have control over this territory, because it is an occupied territory, tourism to Abkhazia is illegal under Georgian law. This is because of a ruling by the Georgian government banning foreigners from entering the occupied territory without permission.
One reason for the ruling is the fact that Georgia cannot ensure the safety of tourists/visitors inside the disputed territory. However, the Abkazian beaches on the Black Sea continue to be accessible for tourists coming from the Russian side of the Abkhazia–Russia border which again is not under Georgian control.

Below you can find information about places in Abkhazia that are distinguished by their attractiveness and magnificence.

Anacopia Fortress is an ancient Abkhazian military citadel in New Athos, located some 22 km (14 miles) by road along the coast from Sukhumi. It is the most complete surviving building of ancient Anacopia, the former capital of the Kingdom of Abkhazia.
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One side of the Anacopia Fortress. Photo courtesy: commons.wikimedia.org

Begun in the 2nd century, the Anacopia Fortress has the power to transport visitors back in time. The tourist site, partially restored to its ancient glory, features a Roman-style tower offering sweeping views of the nearby city, the sea, and the slopes of the region's mountains. The small Christian church near the tower features early Christian paintings and symbols.

Lake Ritsa is located in the north-western part of Abkhazia, surrounded by mountain forests and subalpine meadows. Its water is cold and clear. Mountains with heights of between 2,200 and 3,500 metres surround the lake. The region around Lake Ritsa is part of the Euxine-Colchic deciduous forests eco-region with a fairly high concentration of evergreen boxwood groves.
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Lake Ritsa. Photo courtesy: northcaucasusland.wordpress.com

In 1930 the Ritsa Nature Reserve (162.89 km2) was established to protect the natural state of the lake and the surrounding land. The road from the Black Sea coast was built in 1936. The lake was an important tourist attraction during the Soviet period.

Lake Ritsa is one of the deepest lakes in Georgia (116 m), and is rich in trout. The lake is fed by six rivers and drained by one, the Iupshara River. The resort of Avadhara lies to the north of the lake. The Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had one of his summer-houses (dacha) by the lake. Today this dacha belongs to the Abkhazian government.

New Athos Cave is a karst cave in the Iverian Mountain in Abkhazia, near to New Athos. It is one of the largest caves in the world with the volume of its void about 1,000,000 m³.
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Part of a cave in New Athos. Photo courtesy: idyugeorgia.weebly.com

The abyss on a slope of the Iverian Mountain was known for a long time, as the "Bottomless Pit". It was explored in 1961 by an expedition of four researchers: Zurab Tintilozov, Arsen Okrojanashvili, Boris Gergedava, and Givi Smyr.

Since 1975, it has been a major tourist attraction, featuring its own underground railway. The cave consists of 9 major cavities.

Sukhumi Botanical Garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the Caucasus. It was founded in 1840 as Sukhum-Kale Military-Botanical Garden by the head of the Russian Black Sea fortification line Rayevsky with the purpose of the introduction of new plants in the region (particularly tea and citrus fruits). It was ravaged by Turkish forces in 1853-55 and 1877-78 in the course of the Russo-Turkish wars. The garden was transferred to the civil authorities in 1889 and restoration of the plantings begun in 1894.
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Small lake in the Sukhumi Botanical Garden. Photo courtesy: en.advisor.travel

Sukhumi botanical garden continued to develop during the Soviet rule and it was finally transformed into a research institute for botany under the Academy of Sciences. More than 4,500 species were collected in the garden, including 1,200 tropical ones.

The garden suffered greatly during the Georgian-Abkhazian War.

New Athos Monastery is a monastery in New Athos, in the municipality of Gudauta, , founded in 1875 by monks who came from the St. Panteleimon Monastery in Mount Athos. They founded the church of St. Panteleimon on Mount Iveria, on the territory of present New Athos. Renovation work were carried out on the monastery between 1883-1896 as well.
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New Athos Monastery in Abkhazia. Photo courtesy: dspace.nplg.gov.ge

The full name of the monastery, the «New Athos Monastery of Simon the Cannanaean» is related to the monk Simon the Cannanaean who lived there and was buried at the Church of Simon the Cannanaean near the Lower New Athos waterfall. The waterfall descends from the top of the hill and roars down to its foot where the church is located.

The monastery has the shape of a rectangle with a spacious court in the center. The court is surrounded by the (monastic) cells and administrative buildings, including 5 churches and a bell tower. In the center of the New Athos Monastery is the large Cathedral of St. Panteleimon, which was built in 1888 by the emperor Alexander III. The church has five domes and reaches a height of 40 meters.

Krubera Cave is the second deepest known cave on Earth after the Veryovkina Cave. It is located in the Arabika Massif of the Gagra Range of the Western Caucasus, in the Gagra district of Abkhazia.
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Krubera Cave. Photo courtesy: tripfreakz.com

It became the deepest-known cave in the world in 2001 when an expedition of the Ukrainian Speleological Association reached a depth of 1,710 m (5,610 ft) which exceeded the depth of the previous deepest-known cave, Lamprechtsofen, in the Austrian Alps, by 80 metres (260 ft). In 2004, for the first time in the history of speleology, the Ukrainian Speleological Association expedition reached a depth greater than 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), and explored the cave to −2,080 m (−6,824 ft). Ukrainian diver Gennadiy Samokhin extended the cave by diving in the terminal sump to 46 metres' depth in 2007 and then to 52 m in 2012, setting successive world records of 2,191 m and 2,197 m, respectively. Krubera is one of the two known caves on Earth deeper than 2,000 metres.

First photo courtesy: northcaucasusland.wordpress.com

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