Sokhumi, Georgia

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Sokhumi, Georgia

Region: Abkhazia


Geographic Coordinates: 43.000000, 41.016700
Climate: Climate and weather patterns in Sokhumi, Georgia throughout the year vary.
Population: 64441
Language: Georgian

Sokhumi, Also known as Sukhumi, Is a captivating city nestled on the eastern coast of the Black Sea in Georgia. With its rich history, Stunning natural beauty, And vibrant cultural scene, Sokhumi offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. One of the most striking aspects of Sokhumi is its picturesque setting. The city is surrounded by lush green mountains that provide a breathtaking backdrop against the sparkling blue waters of the Black Sea. This combination creates an idyllic atmosphere that attracts travelers seeking relaxation and tranquility.

The history of Sokhumi dates back to ancient times when it was an important trading center along the Silk Road. Over time, It became a melting pot of cultures due to its strategic location between Europe and Asia. Today, Remnants of this diverse heritage can be seen in the city’s architecture and traditions. The heart of Sokhumi is its charming Old Town, Where narrow cobblestone streets wind through historic buildings adorned with colorful facades.

Here you can explore traditional Georgian houses with their iconic wooden balconies or visit ancient churches like St. Simon Kananeli Cathedral dating back to the 10th century. For nature enthusiasts, Sokhumi offers numerous opportunities for outdoor adventures. The nearby Ritsa National Park boasts pristine forests filled with diverse flora and fauna while offering hiking trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls such as Gegskiy Waterfall or Lake Ritsa itself – a mesmerizing turquoise gem surrounded by dense forests. Sokhumi’s cultural scene is also vibrant and diverse.

The city hosts various festivals throughout the year celebrating Georgian music, Dance, Literature, And art forms such as Sukhum International Film Festival or Abkhazian Ethnographic Museum Festival which showcase local talents alongside international artists. Food lovers will delight in Sokhumi’s culinary offerings too! Traditional Georgian cuisine takes center stage here with mouthwatering dishes like khachapuri (cheese-filled bread) and khinkali (dumplings). Don’t miss the chance to sample local wines, As Georgia is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. While Sokhumi has faced challenges due to its complex political situation, It remains a city brimming with resilience and warmth.

Its people are known for their hospitality, Making visitors feel welcome and ensuring a memorable stay. Sokhumi is a hidden gem that combines natural beauty, Rich history, Vibrant culture, And warm hospitality. Whether you’re exploring its ancient sites or immersing yourself in its stunning landscapes or indulging in delicious Georgian cuisine – Sokhumi promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you yearning to return.



Important Landmarks

  1. Sokhumi Botanical Garden: This beautiful garden is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Georgia and covers an area of around 100 hectares. It features a wide range of plant species from different parts of the world.
  2. Anakopia Fortress: Located on a hilltop overlooking Sokhumi, Anakopia Fortress is an ancient fortress dating back to the 6th century. It offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.
  3. Cathedral of Saint Simon Kananeli: This cathedral is an important religious site in Sokhumi and serves as the main Orthodox church in Abkhazia.
  4. Monument to Prince Vladimir: Erected in 2008, this monument honors Prince Vladimir Abyzou who converted to Christianity and introduced it to Abkhazia in the 10th century.
  5. Sukhum City Hall: The City Hall building itself is considered an architectural landmark with its unique design blending modern elements with traditional Georgian architecture.
  6. Ritsa Lake: Although not directly located in Sokhumi but nearby, Ritsa Lake is a stunning natural attraction surrounded by mountains and dense forests offering opportunities for hiking and boating.
  7. Sukhum Open Market: A bustling market where locals sell fresh produce, clothes, souvenirs, handicrafts, and various goods that provide visitors with a glimpse into local life.
  8. New Athos Cave (located near Sokhumi): This cave complex features numerous stalactites and stalagmites formations along with underground lakes making it a popular destination for spelunking enthusiasts.

It’s worth noting that due to ongoing political tensions between Georgia and Abkhazia, it is essential to check the current situation and travel advisories before planning a trip to Sokhumi.


Primary Industries

  1. Agriculture: Abkhazia has fertile land suitable for agriculture, and Sokhumi plays a significant role in agricultural production. The major crops grown include citrus fruits (oranges, mandarins), tea, tobacco, grapes (for wine production), hazelnuts, and various vegetables.
  2. Tourism: Sokhumi is located on the Black Sea coast and offers picturesque beaches with subtropical climate conditions. The city attracts tourists during summer months for its coastal resorts and historical landmarks such as the Sukhum Fortress or Anacopia Fortress.
  3. Manufacturing: While limited in scope due to economic challenges faced by Abkhazia, there are some manufacturing industries present in Sokhumi. These include food processing (canning fruits and vegetables), textile manufacturing (clothing production), furniture production, and small-scale electronics assembly.
  4. Fishing: Being a coastal city with access to the Black Sea waters, fishing plays a role in Sokhumi’s economy. Local fishermen catch various fish species like anchovies, mackerel, sprat, turbot among others.

It’s important to note that due to ongoing political conflicts surrounding Abkhazia’s status as an independent region within Georgia or part of Russia itself according to different perspectives; economic activities may vary significantly depending on geopolitical factors affecting trade relations with other countries or regions.


Noteable History

  1. Ancient Greeks: The city was originally founded by Greek colonists from Miletus in the 6th century BCE. It became an important trading center and port for the ancient Greeks.
  2. Kingdom of Colchis: Sokhumi was part of the ancient Kingdom of Colchis, which was known for its connections to Greek mythology, including being mentioned in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts.
  3. Roman Empire: During Roman times, Sokhumi served as an important outpost on their eastern frontier.
  4. Byzantine Empire: After the fall of Rome, Sokhumi came under Byzantine control and became a significant administrative center within their empire.
  5. Ottoman Empire: In 1578, Sokhumi fell under Ottoman rule during their expansion into Georgia.
  6. Russian Empire: In 1810, Russia annexed Abkhazia (including Sokhumi) from the Ottoman Empire as part of its expansion into Caucasus.
  7. Joseph Stalin: One notable person associated with Sokhumi is Joseph Stalin who was born in Gori but spent his early years studying at a seminary in Tbilisi before moving to Sukhum (Sokhumi) to participate in revolutionary activities against Tsarist Russia.
  8. Georgian SSR and Soviet Union: Following Bolshevik revolution and subsequent establishment of Soviet Union (1922), Sukhum became part of Georgian SSR within USSR until its collapse in 1991.
  9. War in Abkhazia (1992-1993): After Georgia gained independence from Soviet Union, tensions escalated between Abkhaz separatists supported by Russia and Georgian government leading to a war that resulted in significant damage to Sokhumi and the displacement of many Georgians from the region.

It’s important to note that since 1993, Sokhumi has been under the control of the breakaway region of Abkhazia, which is not internationally recognized as an independent state.


Museums and Things To See

  1. Abkhazian State Museum: Located in the heart of Sokhumi, this museum showcases the history and culture of Abkhazia through its extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits.
  2. Sukhum City Art Gallery: A popular art center in Sokhumi that features contemporary works by local artists as well as exhibitions from around the world.
  3. Anacopia Fortress: Situated on a hill overlooking Sokhumi, this ancient fortress offers breathtaking views of the city and surrounding landscapes.
  4. Ritsa Lake: Located about 40 kilometers from Sokhumi, Ritsa Lake is a stunning natural wonder surrounded by lush forests. Visitors can enjoy boating or hiking around the lake.
  5. New Athos Monastery: Situated near Sukhum, this functioning monastery dates back to the 19th century and is known for its beautiful architecture and peaceful surroundings.
  6. Apsny Park: This park is a great place to relax and enjoy nature in Sokhumi. It offers walking trails, picnic spots, playgrounds for children, and beautiful views of the Black Sea coast.
  7. Akua Waterfall: Located near Gagra (about 30 kilometers from Sokhumi), Akua Waterfall is a picturesque spot where visitors can hike through nature trails surrounded by lush greenery to reach a stunning waterfall.
  8. Lenin Statue Square: This square features an iconic statue of Lenin located at its center – it serves as both an important historical monument and a gathering spot for locals.
  9. Botanical Garden Sukhum-Kale-Shroma: Situated on Mount Makhadzhirga near Sukhum-Kale village (around 15 kilometers from Sokhumi), this botanical garden houses various plant species native to Abkhazia’s diverse ecosystems.
  10. Sukhumi State Drama Theatre: For those interested in performing arts, the Sukhumi State Drama Theatre is a must-visit. It hosts a variety of theatrical performances, including plays and musicals.

These are just a few of the many attractions Sokhumi has to offer. Exploring the city and its surroundings will provide visitors with a deeper understanding of Abkhazian culture, history, and natural beauty.



Sports Teams

  1. FC Gagra: Founded in 1947, FC Gagra was a football (soccer) club based in Sokhumi. They competed in various Soviet football leagues and achieved moderate success during their existence.
  2. FC Samurzakan: Another football club from Sokhumi, FC Samurzakan was founded in 1959. They participated primarily in lower divisions of Soviet football leagues.
  3. BC Tskhum-Apkhazeti: This basketball team was established in 1964 and represented Sokhumi at regional and national levels within Soviet basketball competitions.

It’s important to note that due to the ongoing conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia, many sports activities have been disrupted or relocated outside of Abkhazia’s control since the early 1990s. The current status of these teams may be uncertain or non-existent as a result of this conflict and subsequent political developments.



Cultural Events

  1. Victory Day (May 9th): Celebrated throughout Abkhazia, Victory Day commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
  2. Independence Day (September 30th): This day marks the declaration of independence from Georgia by Abkhazia on September 30th, 1993.
  3. International Music Festival Zhiuzhi: Organized annually since 2010, this festival brings together musicians from different countries to perform various genres of music including classical, folk, jazz, and more.
  4. Traditional Folk Festivals: Occasionally held in different regions of Abkhazia including Sokhumi, these festivals showcase traditional music performances and dances along with local crafts and cuisine.
  5. Sukhum Open Air Jazz Festival: Though not specific to Sokhumi but held elsewhere in Abkhazia like Gagra or Pitsunda beaches during summer months; this festival features live jazz performances by local and international artists.

It’s important to note that due to the political situation surrounding Abkhazia’s status as a disputed territory within Georgia, some events may be subject to change or cancellation without prior notice. It is advisable to check for updated information before planning a visit or attending any specific event in Sokhumi or other parts of Abkhazia.


Cuisine

  1. Abkhaz Cuisine: Abkhaz cuisine is a significant part of the local food culture in Sokhumi. It features a variety of dishes influenced by Georgian, Russian, and Turkish cuisines. Some popular dishes include:
    • achma (a layered pastry with cheese)
    • abysta (cornmeal porridge)
    • adzhika (spicy sauce)
    • pkhalis (vegetable or meat rolls)
  2. Adgur Restaurant: Located on the waterfront promenade in Sokhumi, Adgur is a popular restaurant that serves traditional Abkhaz cuisine. They offer a wide range of dishes such as:
    • grilled meats
    • khachapuri (cheese-filled bread)
    • lobio (bean stew)
    • fresh seafood
  3. Cafe Lyra: This cozy café offers a mix of Georgian and European cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. They serve delicious dishes such as:
    • khinkali (dumplings) filled with various fillings like meat or cheese
    • salads
    • soups
    • desserts
  4. Gagra Restaurant: Situated on Victory Square in Sokhumi, Gagra Restaurant specializes in traditional Abkhazian cuisine. They serve dishes like:
    • chakhokhbili (chicken stewed with tomatoes)
    • kharcho soup (meat soup flavored with walnut paste)
    • shashlik skewers
    • and many more
  5. Zhoekvara Café & Wine Bar: This charming café offers an array of local delicacies paired with excellent wines from the region. They have an extensive menu featuring both traditional Georgian dishes like khinkali and mtsvadi (barbecue) as well as international options.
  6. Vakhushti Bagrationi: If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, Vakhushti Bagrationi is a renowned restaurant in Sokhumi. They offer an elegant ambiance and serve a fusion of Georgian and European cuisine, prepared with high-quality ingredients.

These are just a few examples of popular local cuisines and restaurants in Sokhumi. Exploring the city will reveal many more hidden gems where you can enjoy the unique flavors of Abkhazian cuisine.


Parks and Recreation

  1. Ritsa National Park: Located about 100 km northeast of Sokhumi, Ritsa National Park is a stunning natural area with a crystal-clear lake surrounded by mountains. It offers opportunities for hiking, picnicking, bird-watching, and boating.
  2. Botanical Garden of Sukhum: Situated on the outskirts of Sokhumi near Lake Ritsa Road, this botanical garden features diverse flora from different regions around the world. Visitors can explore its trails while enjoying beautiful landscapes.
  3. Beaches: As Sokhumi is located on the coast of the Black Sea, there are several public beaches where visitors can relax and swim during summer months.
  4. Abkhazian State Museum: While not specifically a recreational activity or park, this museum in Sokhumi showcases Abkhazian history and culture through various exhibits including archaeological artifacts and traditional costumes.

It’s important to note that due to political circumstances surrounding Abkhazia’s status as an independent territory within Georgia but recognized by only a few countries internationally (including Russia), travel advice should be sought before planning any visit to Sokhumi or other areas within Abkhazia.


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