An abandoned theatre in Gagra

Abkhazia in Pictures

Abkhazia is a remarkable juxtaposition of sorrow and beauty, where abandoned places mix with natural beauty. It has almost been forgotten by the outside world, and even just getting to Abkhazia can be a serious challenge. It’s a land that offers striking landscapes checkered by abandoned buildings everywhere — haunting reminders of the war that tore Abkhazia apart from 1992-93. Here’s a look at today’s Abkhazia in pictures:

An abandoned palace near Lake Ritsa Abkhazia
An abandoned palace near Lake Ritsa, Abkhazia.

Once a summer holiday destination for Soviet Union officials, including Stalin himself, Abkhazia was plunged into violence shortly following the breakup of the USSR.

An abandoned restaurant in Abkhazia
A dilapidated pier in Abkhazia’s capital, Sukhumi.

Abkhazia proclaims itself an independent nation, but almost no governments other than Russia recognize it as such. Instead, most of the international community considers it to be a part of Georgia.

Lake Ritsa
Beautiful Lake Ritsa, where Stalin had a summer home.

Today, Abkhazia receives few visitors except from Russia, whose military has effective control over Abkhazia.

Broken glass in an abandoned Gagra building
Shattered glass in an abandoned Gagra building.

Abkhazia’s population was cut in half by the war, and today a great many buildings stand totally deserted.

Abkhazia in Pictures - Abandoned building in Gagra
One of Gagra’s many hauntingly beautiful abandoned buildings.

The most developed part of Abkhazia is Gagra, a former Black Sea resort town in the north that is starting to see an influx of tourists from nearby Russia. They are lured there by Abkhazia’s photogenic landscapes and affordable prices.

Buildings in Gagra
A hillside in Gagra, a city slowly recovering its Soviet reputation as a Black Sea resort.
An abandoned piano in Gagra Abkhazia
An abandoned theater in Gagra.

The capital city of Sukhumi is slowly developing as well, but still feels eerily vacant.

Abkhazia in pictures - A train in Sukhumi at night.
Sukhumi’s renovated boardwalk at dusk.
The Black Sea resort of Gagra
Gagra’s pebble beaches.
Abkhazian flags
Abkhazian flags in Sukhumi.

Its many abandoned buildings are covered in graffiti, gritty reminders of the area’s recent past but great material for taking interesting photographs of Abkhazia.

Graffiti in Abkhazia
Graffiti on an abandoned Gagra building.
An abandoned pier in Sukhumi Abkhazia
An old Soviet era pier in Sukhumi.

To learn more about Abkhazia, read my travel diary on what it is like to visit Abkhazia. And if you want to plan a trip yourself, check out our guide on what to do in Abkhazia.

And, while you are at it, check out my list of 9 Incredible Places to See in Georgia Europe.

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