Petra Fortress

Petra Fortress

Long before Georgia existed as the nation it is today, the Byzantine Empire had a presence here. The fortress city, named Justinian’s City and known today as Petra, connected western Georgia to the Byzantine provinces, and controlled all of the ships sailing along the eastern coast of the Black Sea. While it lays in ruins today, it is a fascinating glimpse into not only Georgian, but European and Central Asian history as well.

Located twenty-three kilometers from Batumi in the Ajarian village of Tsikhisdziri, Petra’s acropolis is built atop a rocky hill overlooking the Black Sea. From land it was defended by a wall and sheer cliff, making the site nigh on impenetrable. 

Built over the older ruins of an ancient Laz settlement in the 6th century, Justinian’s City would eventually draw the attention of the Sasanian Persians (modern day Iran), which led to the fierce Battle of Egrisi between the Byzantines and the Persians in the middle of the 6th-century. This battle was part of the fifty-year Lazic War, which Persia would ultimately win.

Today, the Petra Fortress Museum & Reserve remains as a testament to the area’s vital importance. The remains of the fortress, as well as the foundations of a 6th-7th-century basilica, the remains of a palace, an ancient bath, and ruined medical and military quarters are preserved so that we might imagine what the place might have looked like in its heyday.

If European history is a passion of yours, the ruins of Petra will ensure a fascinating visit for you.

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