Batumi/Gonio Fortress/Batumi Botanical Gardens
It’s a quick run down to the Georgian/Turkish border.
And…is it a bad omen that the road sign says “Good Luck” (in English no less!) as you are leaving the country? It does give pause for thought.
The drive through the Batumi neighborhoods on the way down was a bit unsettling as it is very depressing to see the
grim and gray concrete tenement style housing. The crazy thing is watching brand new obviously more upscale condos, hotels and apartment housing going in right next to the soviet housing. It begs the question..”who will buy in that neighborhood?” And do the city fathers plan on leaving the concrete tenements there after completing the new skyscrapers??? One has to wonder…..
The short ride to the Turkish border is another bit of a time-warp. Many transport trucks are stationed all along the highway, parked in vacant lots, stacked up at the border. It is obviously a very busy entry and exit portal. And apparently many Turks travel across the border into Batumi for the casinos.
After a few quick photos we backtrack to the ancient “Gonio Fortress” which was built by the Romans in 90 BC and is Georgia’s oldest fortress. The fortress was, for a while, being actively excavated but funds ran out and excavations were halted. However there is a small museum at the site and a short walk-through produced some interesting facts. One very significant belief is that the apostle Matthew is buried at the fortress. However, to date, no additional excavations have been allowed to possibly verify this thought.
We return to Batumi for lunch overlooking the Black Sea and then a short visit to the Botanical Gardens is in order. These gardens are unique throughout the former Soviet Union as they were designed and created by botanist Andrey Krasnov(1862-1914) who traveled the world studying multitude of flora. He decided after careful consideration that this part of the Black Sea coast would be an ideal place for a botanical garden.
Thus he began the collection of trees and plants from all over the world. It consumes 111 hectares(275 acres) and supports nine specific floral growth regions – Caucasian humid subtropics, East Asia, New Zealand, South America, the Himalayas, Mexico, Australia, and the Mediterranean. You can travel the hillsides of the gardens and follow the various zones from subtropical to alpine flora. It is springtime and there are multitudes of blooming plants and trees all around seeming to be flourish quite well here on this “Green Cape”.
Unfortunately it is time to go…we have another long drive today back to Tbilisi and we will be on the road well into the late evening.