Location and importance :
Batumi is one of the main ports and commercial cities in Georgia, but besides this, it is a capital city of Adjara, which is an autonomous republic in the southeast of Georgia. It is a seaside city on the Black sea coast. It’s worth mentioning that most of its economy is dependent on tourism. It is mostly due to the fact that since 2010 the old face of the city has been completely transformed and renovated.
The word Batumi derives from the Greek word meaning “deep harbor”. Indeed, after Sevastopol Batumi has the deepest and most convenient harbor on the Black sea coast. The first tidings about Batumi can be found in Aristotle’s works, a Greek philosopher, who lived in the 4th century BC. Later Pliny the Elder and Arrian repeated Aristotle’s information but they have only mentioned a river with the same name.
As archeological evidence indicates this area has been settled since II-I millennium BC. The earliest cultural layer, which contains and shows the traces and remains of man’s activities at the given site, can be dated back to 8th and 7th centuries BC. The earliest artifacts date back to the 7th– 6th centuries BC and they are of various historical periods. The most noteworthy of all artifacts were discovered on the territory of Gonio and they are known as “Gonio Treasure,” the set of golden things, which represent brilliant samples of the sophisticated art and incredibly high level of craftsmanship. Artifacts discovered in this region testify trade relations with Greek colonies.
Amongst the ancient remnants nearby Batumi the castle Petra is noteworthy located in the village of Tsikhisdziri, in Kobuleti Municipality. Excavations conducted here have revealed many monuments belonging to different historical periods, oldest of them dating back to the late Bronze-early Iron Age. Several Golden, silver and precious things have been discovered there. Also remains of Basilica of the 5th c. AD. This site is also special for its numismatic collection. Coins from different countries such as Greece, Roman Empire, Byzantine and Ottoman Empire etc can be found there. This fact gives us information about the trade relations between the remote parts of world or their influence on each other.
History of the city :
During its long history mentioned above Batumi often suffered hard times. At first it was garrisoned by Roman-Byzantine forces, belonging to Lazica, the western Georgian kingdom. Later on, in the 9th century Batumi was briefly occupied by the Arabs, who conquered and had been dominating the whole country since the mid-7th century until 12th cent, until the Emirate of Tbilisi was finally defeated. Fortunately, Arabs did not hold Batumi and in the 9th century it became a part of the Tao-Klarjeti kingdom, which was historically south-western Georgian kingdom of Bagratian dynasty, but as a result of the Russian-Turkish wars it was conquered by Turks and now forms a part of north-eastern Turkey.
In the late tenth century Batumi becomes a part of the unified kingdom of Georgia, but it does not last for long. After the Georgian kingdom was disintegrated Batumi passed to the princes Gurieli, which were the governors of a western Georgian principality. After about a century the city was conquered by Ottomans and in spite of the Georgians efforts directed toward recapturing it, Batumi becomes a part of Ottoman Empire.
The Russian Empire played an important role in the history of Batumi in the 19th century. They annexed the city and declared it as a free port. The expansion of Batumi is firmly connected with this period. Batumi-Tiflis-Baku railway and Baku-Batumi pipeline were completed. Gradually the city became a main Russian oil port in the Black sea. Because of the unrest during the World War I Turkey re-entered in the city and later ceded it to Bolsheviks as a granted autonomy. When USSR collapsed, the head of Adjara’s governing council, Aslan Abashidze, began to rule the area as a personal property and fiefdom. He directed his efforts to break away from Georgian state. The mass protests sparked by the Rose Revolution in Tbilisi in 2003 caused him to flee the region to Russia in 2004.
Nowadays, under the General government of Georgia, Batumi is an administrative, cultural, economic center of Adjara’s autonomous republic. Besides, it is a seat of Constitutional Court of Georgia since 2007 moved here from Tbilisi. As it was explained by president Saakashvili the re-location was a part of decentralization process, also for establishing the “legal links” between Adjara’s autonomous republic and the Georgian state.
With its railway chain and the largest sea port Batumi is one of the most important cities in Georgia. It also has a very convenient airport opened in 2007. The city is full of numerous tourist attractions. Since 2007 a lot of buildings have been built on the territory of the city amongst them are innumerable hotels, restaurants and casinos etc. Amongst the remarkable buildings are Radisson Blue Hotel, Sheraton hotel, alphabet tower, Public service hall. Also it is a very popular seaside resort in Georgia.