Legends tell us that it was in Gonio Fortress where Apsaros, the son of Aeëtes, the king of Colchis, was buried after he was killed by Jason who had come in search of the Golden Fleece. The second name of the fortress, Apsaros, is inspired by this legend. Gonio, the name of one of the settlements in Batumi, signifies Genoese’s presence in the 13th and 14th centuries.
Located in 12 kilometres from Batumi, Gonio Fortress was the central citadel of the shore of the Black Sea. The fortified city was already standing on the left bank of the Chorokhi river and the Black Sea, from the 19th century BCE. However, historical sources attest that its construction is related to Pompey’s campaigns in 65 CE. The fortress is 228 meters long, 195 meters wide, and 44,460 m2 area and is fortified with 18 towers.
The fortified city of Gonio (Apsaros) has been under the sovereignty of three mighty empires, Roman, Byzantium, and Ottoman. Various writing forms are inscribed on its architecture and artifacts. The most important is the one that says, according to legend, that one of the disciples of Jesus, Matthias, is buried there.
You can see the Makhuntseti waterfall in the high mountains of Ajara in Keda Municipality. This waterfall, one of the most popular in Georgia, starts in the greenery as a tiny stream, then gathers its strength through the tufa range, falling 50 meters, and turning into a large pool.
There are many picnic spots near the waterfall, and food shops, where you can try the famous Keda wine, chacha and vodka aged in oak casks, and local snacks such as fish caught in the river and cooked on the spot. You can also purchase delicious, environmentally-safe Ajarian honey and churchkhela. You can drive to the waterfall in any season.
This 28-meter-long bridge was constructed in Georgia’s golden age, during the reign of Queen Tamar in the 12th-13th centuries. It is near Makhuntseti waterfall, across the Acharistskali river. The bridge is made of hewn stones strengthened with lime mortar. Specialists are fascinated by the centuries-old construction mastery.
Researchers have written about the bridge, saying that in earlier centuries, Georgians had figured out a form of an arch that could be used to make bridges with essentially unhewn stones, not using any expensive materials.
Arched bridges are called Tamar’s bridges in Ajara, and there are many of them. They were not only used for personal transportation in Ajara, lying on the intersection of northern and southern trade routes and with many waterways, but also had a significant strategic function.
There are not many places in Europe where you can touch the clouds with your hands, but a few are in Georgia. Beshumi village is a resort in Khulo Municipality, in the high mountains of Ajara, 2,000 meters above sea level.
The resort season starts in June and lasts until September. The mineral waters, sunrays, and local therapeutic mud are great for the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Picnicking, camping, hiking, and horseback tours are all possible in Beshumi. On the first weekend in August, the folk festival of Shuamtoba, with concerts, exhibitions, sporting events, and a horse race is held.
At the festival, try Ajarian dishes like pkhallobio, borano, kuruti, sinori, and khavitsi, and also purchase Ajarian products. The local woven and embroidered items are just as colorful as the Ajarian village huts on the way to Beshumi.
Sarpi has the clearest water on the shores of the Black Sea, where the green mountains meet the blue sea. This small village in Khelvachauri Municipality, bordering Turkey, is outstanding for a cozy vacation with historical background.
First and foremost, the climate of Sarpi is ideal for a memorable vacation. In summer, the sea temperature reaches +25 degrees Celsius and stays like this until late autumn. Even so, the air blowing from the mountain keeps you cool during even the hottest hours of the day. The accommodation options are very close to the beach and it only takes several minutes till you reach the water.
Imbued with the scent of the sea, the air in Sarpi is another merit of the Ajaran wilderness. If you would like to discover it for yourself, go see the waterfall of Andrew the First-Called. There is also a monument to this disciple of Christ who came to Georgia to spread Christianity.
If you are interested in culture and architecture, visit the Sarpi Laz Ethnographic Museum, and see Andrew the First-Called Church, an example of Georgian architecture developed after the Middle Ages, as well as a piece of ultramodern architecture - the customs checkpoint designed by Jurgen Mayer.
Green Lake is in Khulo Municipality, at 2,058 meters above sea level, in upper Ajara. The 2,500 m2 lake is in a cave surrounded by mixed forest, six kilometers away from Goderdzi Pass. The thick forest gives the lake its particular color.
Thanks to the spring water that flows into the lake, it is permanently clear. Although it is very cold, the water is drinkable, but many people choose not to swim in it. People also refrain from swimming due to the depth of the lake, since the deepest point is impressive 19.4 meters.
In the winter, Green Lake and its surrounding areas are covered in snow, so the best time to go is in spring, summer, and the first half of autumn. During that time, go camping, have a picnic, or even take a boat or a water bike onto the lake.
Goderdzi is one of the best mountain and ski resorts in Georgia for those who love extreme sports, heights, and new adventures. Goderdzi resort is in Khulo Municipality, at Goderdzi Pass on Arsiani Range, 2,025 meters above sea level.
At Goderdzi, there are ski slopes for beginners, intermediate-level, and experienced skiers. Ski in the alpine zone, pine forests, and old villages. If you love skiing on untouched powder and have the proper experience, then go backcountry skiing in Goderdzi.
Before becoming a resort, the meadows of Goderdzi were only used as summer pasture. Even now, the locals don’t spend winter in the villages around it, so when Goderdzi is covered in snow, you can ski among houses covered up to their roofs without a risk to cause an accident.
There are two cable cars at the resort, an eight-seater gondola, and a six-seater bubble. Keep in mind that you can use the cable cars of the other mountain/ski resorts with the purchase of a multi-day pass, which applies to all the mountain/ski resorts of Georgia. Passes are sold at the cable car counters.
Goderdzi is also great for a spring, summer, or autumn vacation. Hiking, biking, or horseback riding through the alpine and forest zones and seeing the beautiful petrified forest of Goderdzi, the Green Lake, and the Khikhani Fortress are only a few examples of the activities available during those seasons. The area is perfect for couples or families to enjoy.
Besides the striking views, Goderdzi is also close to the sea, something not many other mountain resorts can boast. They have the infrastructure, like a hotel, cottages, restaurants, and restaurants where you can try extraordinary Ajarian dishes and enjoy the exceptional hospitality of the locals.
Machakhela National Park is a repository of natural and historical monuments, just 20 kilometers away from Batumi.
Visit the Chkhutuneti History and Ethnography Museum, the Chkhutuneti Waterfall, Gvara Fortress, where you can see extraordinary views, and the Machakhela Rifle Monument, hanging bridges, a WWII Bunker, Karimana Waterfall, a 12th-century arch bridge, and many more unique places.
If you are in Ajara in October, then attend the folk festival of Machakheloba, which will introduce you to Ajaran traditions.
Located 30 kilometers away from Batumi, Mtirala is the second national park in Ajara which is a must-see.
The park is spread around a mountain called Mtirala (meaning “crying”) due to its unique climate. Throughout the year, 4,520 mm of precipitation falls and the mountain peak is constantly covered in clouds, except on very rare occasions.
The paths in Mtirala National Park are marked and there are many tours offered there, including scientific, ecological, hiking, and horseback tours. Camping and picnicking spots are available throughout the park for a nice lunch stop. Mountain Lake and Tsablnari Waterfall are in the park, along with rare flora and fauna.