The Dadianis were an illustrious Georgian noble family who ruled the principality of Samegrelo (Odishi) from the 16th-century until it was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1867.
The Dadianis had close contact with many European countries, including Austria, Germany, and France. These links included blood ties to the French Emperor, as Davit Dadiani’s daughter, Salome, was married to Achille Murat, the grand nephew of Napoleon himself. The Dadianis were also known to have been close contacts of historic figures such as Charles Darwin, Guy De Maupassant, and Édouard Manet.
The progessive Dadianis were reformers in many areas. The city planning of Zugdidi was done in such a way as to reflect the look and feel of other European cities in the 19th century, fostering an atmosphere of creative and industrial productivity that transformed the city into an important commercial centre.
A lasting testament to this influential family is the impressive Neo-Gothic Dadiani Palace that stands in the centre of the city. Built in the 17th century, the palace underwent a comprehensive reconstruction under the guidance of the English architect Edwin Race in the 19th century.
Today it acts as a Palace-Museum where you can see the Dadianis’ personal items, a rich collection of fine art, and world-class museum exhibits, such as personal items of Napoleon, his memoirs, and a bronze mask, which Napoleon’s personal physician had cast in Paris after the emperor’s death.
The unique charm of the city is further enhanced by the botanical garden, situated right next to the palace, which was created in imitation of the Bois De Boulogne Park in Paris.
Today, Zugdidi is the administrative capital of the Samegrelo Region. Due to its classic European planning, it is a very walkable city, with the city’s main attractions, the palace and the botanical gardens, being at the heart of it all.
You’ll find lovely two-story houses throughout the city, complete with yards - an uncommon sight in Georgian cities.
The city boasts all of the modern amenities one might expect, including hotels, cinemas, sporting facilities, modern cafes, and international fast-food chains. Of course, you’ll want to sample traditional Megrelian cuisine while you’re in town, with Elarji, Gebzhalia, Kuchmachi, Ajika, and Megrelian khachapuri all popular representations of the local flavor.
Standing on a crossroad between the mountains and the Black Sea, Zugdidi is close to a number of popular attractions.
A thirty-minute drive from the city is Anaklia, a resort town on the Black Sea with hotels, restaurants, bungalows, and everything else you need for a relaxing beach vacation.
To the north of the city, you will find a unique dam on the Enguri River. The Enguri Hydroelectric Power Plant has been declared a cultural monument, as it is the world’s third-highest concrete arch dam..
Tours of the dam are available, as well as boat tours out onto the lake in which you’ll have the opportunity to see the many waterfalls that plunge into the azure water.
Beyond the Enguri Hydroelectric Power Plant, there is an unbelievable sight. A road goes between the cliffs and the rushing Enguri River, leading you to Mestia and Ushguli, the highest inhabited point above sea level in Europe.