Batumi: A long coast, shimmering nights, a subtropical climate; a damsel dancing with the clouds of the Black Sea. A passionate city that has been home to legends, an inspiration for songs and poems, and that wants to be remembered for love.

The Black Sea is the only place on the map where the heart of greenery is struck by the endless blue sea. The indescribable symphony rising from the imposing musical notes of nature and haughty sound of the waves meet on the Black Sea shores. Batumi welcomes me with the most spectacular of these meetings. I begin to become acquainted with this city, blended with the Caucasian breeze on one side and the familiar spirit of the Black Sea on the other, in streets bearing the marks of the Ottomans and Soviets extending to the sea. As I walk towards the square, the stereotypical structures of the Soviets are replaced by the new face of Batumi. Squares cooled by the shade of huge trees are adorned with elaborate buildings, and new buildings are being added every day. Batumi is a city that takes pride in being innovational and astonishing. Structures from all periods are scattered on a vast selection of boulevards and roads. What is interesting is that all this contrast has acquired a unique balance within this sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy but always humid atmosphere.

Walking down towards the shore I noticed the Ferris Wheel, a big wheel that faces the Batumi sea and mountains, so I joined the queue. I boarded the cabin with the idea of investigating the city, familiar to me from the ground, in the air on this big wheel. Before I had the chance to recover from the stunning effects of being totally absorbed in the bird’s-eye view of Batumi, I found the sculpture of Ali and Nino that is immediately beside the big wheel calling me. Ali and Nino, lovers who were separated in a dramatic love story, were eternalized on the shore of the Black Sea by Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze. The sculptures are designed to move and embrace for a brief moment at a certain time every day. The sculpture that was revealed in 2010 is so imposing that its fame has exceeded the country’s borders. 

I am continuing my journey to the most beautiful square in Batumi. Europe Square is classified as the city’s main square. This square, shaped around the Medea monument holding a golden fleece, with it fountains, monumental buildings copied from familiar European structures, cafés, and restaurants is literally a center of attraction. Visitors to this square, giving a different kind of pleasure every moment of the day, are busy buying fantastic pictures and paintings from the street exhibitions, and taking photos leaning against the clock inspired by the clock tower that is the symbol of Prague. The BK Restaurant opening out onto the square, a stylish environment filled with books, and a small orchestra consisting of a saxophone and piano on summer evenings livens up the area.

The most crowded place during the daytime in the summer months is the coastline that almost extends to the Artvin border. Batumi is surrounded by a long stony beach. Even if there are passing rain showers on summer days, there is never a decline in the temperature; this is why the colorful sun loungers and umbrellas are always full of people enjoying the sea. There is also plenty of activity off the beach. An array of cafés and restaurants enjoy the scenery along the blue horizon.

Pier Batumi, located at the point where the Batumi Boulevard meets the sea, is a place where the sound of enjoyment can be heard day and night -especially if the weather is suitable to go into the sea. Because Pier Batumi is close to the hotel district, there is not a place to step on the beach. With its food, shopping, sea and sun, this is a place where you can enjoy the whole day to the full.

Strolling around the city, I noticed that I had reached the avenue named after Shota Rustaveli, a famous name in Georgian literature. The environment of buildings that expand along the entire avenue and stand out with their wonderful architecture, suddenly changes with the restaurants and hotels. I continue walking taking photos of buildings, parks, and people that look as if they have sprung out from different places of the world. When I saw the peaceful environment of the Nurigeli Lake, I decided to have a short break. Nurigeli, a man-made lake, is one of favorite places especially among the locals who come here to fish and ride bicycles. As I walked the entire length of the avenue, strolling around the side streets again I reached another one of the city’s monumental squares, the Theater Square. Arranged around the statue of Poseidon, believed to be the god of seas and earthquakes, holding a pitchfork in the center of a fountain, the square is extremely busy at all times of the day. This square, surrounded by the city’s historical theater building and residential buildings from the communist era is a favorite place with travelers that come here to take photos.

Leaving Theater Square, I head towards the Adjara Museum of Art. Georgia comprises of three autonomous regions; Adjara is the region that includes Batumi. Therefore, it is important to be as familiar with the name Adjara as we are with Batumi. In the museum, works by contemporary artists from Georgia and, in general, from the former Soviet Republics are on exhibition in the lower gallery. The upper gallery is dedicated to the works by artists that lived in the Adjara region.   

Following this short art break, I return to the Batumi streets. Although the city is full of buildings with bright lights and modern designs, I am suddenly confronted by the city’s main neo-Gothic church, the Virgin Nativity. This structure, built in the 19th century, is a church dedicated to Mother Mary. After the change in regime, the building formerly used for scientific activities during the Soviet period, was reopened as a church. Departing from the square, I head towards the Argo Cable Car to view the city from a distance. As I reached the Sputnik Mountain, the drizzling rain that started at the beginning of the journey began to increase. I sit with Anuria Mountain behind me, Batumi and the Black Sea in front of me, and a cup of Argo’s excellent coffee in my hand. I have no choice but to wait for the rain to stop. I was fortunate -as I finished my coffee, the rain stopped and the bright shining sun began to appear between the dispersing clouds. On returning, my next route is the Piazza Batumi, the city’s favorite meeting place that also hosts small concerts. This is a corner that has a red-bricked clock tower and a huge floor mosaic of mythological scenes surrounded by hotels, cafés, and restaurants. The surrounding restaurants do great justice to the local flavors such as traditional Georgian cheese, khinkali that is quite large compared with the Turkish mantı (a kind of ravioli), and haçapuri, the Batumi version of the Turkish pide (filled pastry).

Batumi Botanic Gardens, 10 km from the city center, is the last stop on my journey. The gardens are situated on an area of 108 hectares, on a cape overlooking the blue sea. In the summer, this is one of the favorite places in Batumi for both the locals and tourists. In this botanic garden, it is possible to see almost all the plants that grow in the world in one place. Lilies, bamboos extending to eternity, flowerbeds, trees I have never seen before, and the train rails and old train station add a nostalgic atmosphere to the environment. The botanic garden is certainly a place that will remain in my memory with the Batumi silhouette blending in with the mist of the Black Sea. Bidding farewell to Batumi, I gather all the memories, colors, and excitement of this country into my suitcase.

Other Articles from This Issue

Skylife Archive