Meanwhile, this Italian villa of a football coach is pretty well known, and several things has changed there.
Only a dusty dirt road leads to it and from outside the house looks quite inconspicuous. But once again proves: Don't judge a book by its cover...!
Gagra is a seaside resort in Abkhazia, a de facto republic in northwestern Georgia. It used to be a popular holiday destination until the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict broke out in 1992. Like much of Abkhazia, it has since become a shadow of its former self. The beaches are quiet and hundreds of its buildings lie abandoned, including this former sanatorium turned hotel, which we spotted looking overgrown on google maps. On our approach we saw what looked like a grand palace and thought we must have the wrong building, but sure enough it was the right one and turned out to be a bit of a stunner. Having looked online since we are by no means the first to visit here, and it even has a few reviews on trip advisor! Visited with elliot5200.
I may have got a bit carried away with photos of this entrance hall
The floor above
Not a bad view from the balcony
The back of the building was in worse condition
I could have spent longer in here but we had other stuff to see. Much of the town is abandoned, and indeed much of Abkhazia.
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Been wanting to get in this place ever since I saw it years ago. These are just a few pictures I took
The Ghajn Tuffieha Military Camp dates back to the late 19th century. By 1910, a formal military camp was in place consisting of timber ’Crimea Huts’ which were later replaced with more permanent masonry replacements,
Throughout the immediate post-war years up to the late 1960s, the Ghajn Tuffieha Camp represented one of the busiest spots on the island for military training for both British and NATO forces.
In the late 1970s the lower camp was converted into the Hal Ferh tourism accommodation complex.
Tkvarcelli was an important coal mining town in the war torn region of Abkhazia, a de facto independent republic which remains internationally recognised as part of Georgia. During the Abkhazian war (from 1992 to 93), Tkvarcheli withstood, through Russian humanitarian and military aid, an uneasy siege by the Georgian forces. As a result of the war the town's industries all but stopped and its population has since decreased from approximately 22,000 to just 5,000 people.
Abkhazia is on the list of places where the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) advises against all travel. There is no UK consulate support if anything goes wrong so if you were to lose your passport for example, you'd be pretty fucked. With that in mind, and having read a few horror stories of tourists being aggressively robbed around Tkvarcelli, we were pretty skeptical about coming here. Thanks to some advice from @Olkka, who visited earlier in the year, we chose to hire a driver who knew the area well and we didn't encounter any problems. Top tip of the day - take a bottle of vodka for the guys demolishing the power plant and you'll be reet.
Tkvarcelli power plant has seen better days. On the upper levels there were holes in the floor everywhere, hidden by overgrown plants and moss. We tried to be extra careful although it was difficult to tell if any structure we were standing on was safe. There were workers actively demolishing the roof above one end of the plant as well so we had to stick to the opposite end. Thankfully that's where all the good stuff was. The only other obstacle was the squatters but they didn't seem to mind us being there.
Workers were sporadically dropping huge sections of roof onto the ground from above
Much has been dismantled
Manoeuvring around this building was so sketchy
These stairs were clinging on by dear life. We went up these but the stairs above were completely mangled
Coal conveyor chute
Control Room. Pretty battered but I loved it in here
The central turbine. I may have got a bit carried away photographing this.
It would be amazing to have seen this in its hey day.
Akarmara was a nearby mining town. Wars and economic change have emptied the town of the 5,000 people who lived there in the 1970s leaving it pretty much a ghost town. Now it is estimated only 35 people remain. It's completely cut off except for a rocky road full of potholes that takes around an hour to navigate. On our arrival we were greeted by some strange looks from the elderly locals, although the local children seemed fascinated by us and one accompanied us for our whole time there. It's a very surreal place where buildings that have a light outside signify that they are lived in. This is to ward off any looters. None of the buildings look lived in otherwise as they are all falling apart.
The train station has been completely reclaimed by the forest.
This building was completely trashed except for one flat in the middle inhabited by a young family.
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Tskaltubo was a popular spa resort, famous for its healing mineral waters and radon bath treatments. The first sanatoriums with in-patient facilities were built in 1925 and in 1931 Tskaltubo was designated as a spa resort by the Soviet government. Under the communist regime, a spa break was a prescribed, and mostly compulsory, annual respite, as the “right to rest” was inscribed in the Russian constitution. A visit to the doctors could result in being dispatched to somewhere like Lithuania or Georgia where spa towns were renowned for the healing properties of their mineral waters. It was one of Stalin’s favourite vacation spots.
During WWII, the hotels were used as hospitals but after the war, their popularity increased and by the 1980s Tskaltubo was one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the Soviet Union. Georgia’s independence in 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union in late December 1991, signalled the collapse of Tskaltubo’s spa industry. Without guests, most of the hotels and resorts were forced to close their doors. Today many of them are home to refugees who fled the conflict in Abkhazia in 92/93 and needed to be rehoused. This one however has been fenced off and remains empty behind a fence with 24 hour security patrols. Apparently it was bought by a local millionaire who has plans to turn it into a luxury hotel although those plans appear to have stalled.
I was a bit nervous about this one as we'd seen security the night before and they looked like regular police. The signs on the fence suggested they were 'security police' and their website claims they operate under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia. We very nearly had a run in with one of them patrolling but managed to make a quick getaway thankfully. I really enjoyed it in here. We'd not seen any internal pictures so it was a proper treat to discover what was inside. The theatre was absolutely stunning. Visited with Elliot5200 on what was a great trip to a fascinating country!
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