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Georgia Sanatorium Iberia (05/2022)


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Jan 20, 2014
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The Iveria sanatorium was opened in Stalinist architecture in 1962, and the construction took about 10 years.

When Georgia became part of the Soviet Union, more than 180 health resorts were built so that the state could guarantee its workers the right to rest.
For the working class there was a two-week, stately subsidized holiday from the state treasury.

The construction of sanatoriums in Georgia began as early as 1920. Trains from Moscow arrived daily in the 1980s. Every year up to 100,000 people came to the spa town of Tskaltubo (წყალტუბო) also Tskaltubo to bathe in the springs. Tsqaltubo was one of the most famous seaside resorts on the so-called "Russian Riviera". In total there were 22 sanatoriums here. The springs were believed to heal everything from limbs, heart and vascular diseases to peripheral diseases of the nervous system. The construction of the Sanatorium Iveria, started in 1952 and was completed in 1962. It was designed by M.M Buz-Ogli and had a capacity of around 300 beds. The Iveria sanatorium was sold to a Russian investor for more than $100,000 in 2017, according to a Georgian news agency. So far, however, there is no sign of a renovation.

Because of its slightly radioactive thermal springs, Tsqaltubo has been used as a spa since the 19th century. It was built between 1939 and 1955 as part of the Soviet spa policy, which primarily served to maintain the socialist workforce. This resulted in historicizing building complexes in the style of Soviet neo-classicism - in a second heyday in the 1970s, Tsqaltubo was then architecturally expanded in the style of Soviet modernism.

A stay in one of the Soviet sanatoriums and convalescent homes served not only to restore one's ability to work, but also to create a new type of human being in the Soviet ideological sense: "Recreation was not simply leisure time, it was designed 'consciously and culturally', the development of 'all-round educated people', which included further training, theatre, regional studies, gymnastics. […] The daily routine was [oriented] towards the processing and management of collectives […], not to the condition of individual guests.” Thus, Zqaltubo was not only divided according to the various medical areas such as thermal springs, bathing facilities and course rooms, those of the ideological Instruction and education served. The sanatoriums themselves were divided into occupational groups, such as the sanatorium for miners or that for geologists. Recreational stays in Tsqaltubo are therefore part of the family biography not only of very many Georgians, but also of many other Soviet citizens.

After the war in Abkhazia in 1992/93, about 10,000 of the approximately 250,000 displaced Georgians were accommodated in Tsqaltubo. Since these had lived in Abkhazia for several generations, they lost all residential and property property that had been transferred to private ownership in 1992 when they were expelled and fled. As a result, these internally displaced persons had no resources to leave the spa hotels, sanatoriums or convalescent homes in which they had been quartered. Since tourism in Georgia, which was shaken by military conflicts, had come to a complete standstill since the beginning of the 1990s due to the separation from the former Soviet empire, they were able to continue to live there. The refugees were therefore dependent on accommodation in spa hotels and sanatoriums and on the resources that the spa facilities offered them that went beyond housing: spa parks were transformed into gardens and cattle pastures, trees were felled, tables, chairs, counters and parquet floors in the dining rooms were used, for cooking and heating. Gradually, even the most magnificent of the buildings and parks, most of which were erected in the 1950s at the behest of Stalin, fell into disrepair.
Today the four-star hotel "Zqaltubo SPA Resort" is the only one of the hotel buildings and sanatoriums that were built in the Soviet era that is still operated as such. This is mainly due to the fact that it had already been occupied by paramilitary units in the early 1990s, which kept refugees away from Abkhazia as a result of the 1992/93 conflict. All other hotel buildings operated today are new buildings, only one of the two former medical application centers is currently in operation.
Soon after Georgia's declaration of independence, Tsqaltubo caught the eye of foreign investors, since its tourism potential was known from the Soviet era and, after the troubled times that were to be expected anyway, of whatever course the transition was, inevitably had to become interesting for a globally operating tourism industry. Since the 1990s, some of the hotels have changed hands, while refugees continued to live there. Since Georgia developed worse than expected and its inhabitants have been living in precarious conditions for almost thirty years now, some of the buildings that had been acquired early and continued to deteriorate were sold again.

Tsqaltubo initially gained international attention as a result of the activities of foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs), since the Georgian state has not yet been able to raise the funds to deal with the refugee crisis itself. In addition, this was further fueled in 2008 by the second Ossetian conflict.



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Dec 16, 2013
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Shame to see the graffiti in there. That staircase is lovely