Batumi: Playground for Oil Barons

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Batumi's Iconic Medea Statue

Batumi's Iconic Medea Statue (Photo by Paata Vardanashvili)

Batumi is the capital the autonomous region of Adjara of the Republic of Georgia and the largest port in the republic.  The Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and Russians have ruled the area at different periods, but the ancient Colchis (what the Greeks called the Georgians) were always strongly independent.  With the discovery of oil in the land-locked Baku region of Azerbaijan and the opening of a railway from Baku to Batumi, the city became and important export center for Asian oil.  Half of the world’s oil was being exported through Batumi in the first years of the 20th century, so oil barons like Baron Rothschild and the Nobel brothers build mansions in the city.  This was Batumi’s golden age.  During the Soviet era, the city declined due to neglect, but since the establishment of an independent Georgia, the country has invested significantly in the restoration of the city.

(Intriguing historical tidbit:  In 1907 the man who would later become known as Stalin robbed the Tiflis (Tblisi) Bank of millions to help finance the Bolsheviks led by Lenin.  As a well-known hothead radical outlaw he was rightly suspected and he escaped to Batumi.  There he worked for for Rothschild – some historians say as a double agent.  He encouraged labor unrest and was jailed for his activities.)

The renovated city is considered the second capital of Georgia and has over 100,000 residents.  The waterfront area is very touristy with lots of resorts.  The city has beautiful parks, wide boulevards and memorials and statues.  The architecture of the city buildings is generally Art Nouveau.

Batumi Europe Square

Batumi Europe Square

The most popular attraction in the area besides the beaches is the Botanical Garden 9 kilometers north of the city which features cliff-side walks along the Black Sea coast and a plant collection that includes many tropical and semi-tropical specimens.  Beyond the beach resorts, Batumi’s tourism culture is still developing.  The most popular spots inside the city are the Europe Square surrounded by golden age buildings, the Adjara House Outdoor Museum with models of local habitations, the Georgian Orthodox Mother of God Cathedral and the New Boulevard with it’s fountains and gardens.

For more information about Batumi visit CruisePortAtlas.com at:  www.cruiseportatlas.com/Ports/BTM-port.htm .

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About cruiseportatlas

Since 1994 John has worked in the Travel Industry after several years in Higher Education and Hospitality. He was a training executive for Certified Vacations before leading Oceania Cruises training efforts beginning in 2005. In 2010, he was appointed to head Training for Prestige Cruise Holdings, owner of both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In 2011, John started CruisePortAtlas.com. Since 2012, John has been selling cruises for iCruise.com. John was always interested in travel, but was inspired to make it his profession by his wife, Donna. John is an Army brat who spent 3 years in Germany when he was a small brat and the rest of his brat years in the states of Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania. He studied History at the College of William and Mary. John reads voraciously, cooks and eats prodigiously, travels happily, enjoys music, art and architecture from any place or time and has finally stopped smoking.

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