TripPlanner - Samegrelo (Part 1)

Samegrelo (Part 1)

25 July, 2019

If we move along the Black Sea coast, after the Adjarian and Gurian resorts, we will find ourselves in the city of Poti, which already belongs to another region - Samegrelo. According to the modern administrative division of Georgia, this region is called Samegrelo-Upper Svaneti and, as the name implies, includes two cultural regions, Samegrelo and Svaneti. These two regions were connected together into one for convenience, but culturally and historically they have very few similarities. Therefore, let‘s talk about Svaneti another time and for now go on a trip to Samegrelo.

Samegrelo is a very ancient region. It is believed that in ancient times, these lands belonged to the kingdom of Colchis, later this region was a Byzantine province. The capital in those days was the legendary city of Archeopolis (Nokalakevi). Today, in its place there is a rather interesting archaeological museum. If the ancient and Byzantine ruins make your heart beat faster, do not miss to see this place. It is located right on the Senaki-Martvili highway and is visible from afar. Don‘t pass by.

And let us return to the coast. Poti is no less an ancient city than Archeopolis, Poti just had no luck. Nothing preserved from the ancient city of Phasis, nor from the medieval Turkish fortress that once stood here. Modern Poti is a small port city with great potential to become a full-fledged resort in the future. But even in this Poti has no luck. An active construction of a new resort capable of competing with Batumi unfolded to the north, on the very border with Abkhazia, in the city of Anaklia. The future plans are ambitious. In addition to the resort of the same name, where a number of comfortable hotel chains are already operating, there is planned a construction of a deep-water port and a new modern city, which plans to be on a par with such megacities as Dubai, Shanghai or New York. According to the opinion of ​​builders and investors, Anaklia should become part of the “new silk road”and even more closely connect Asia and Europe.

Leaving the coast, we will go to the very heart of Samegrelo, to the capital of the region - the city of Zugdidi. The main attraction of the city is the palace of the local Dadiani dynasty and the surrounding park, which nowadays is called the “botanical garden”. In Middle Ages, Samegrelo had independence and its own princely dynasty, which in the 19th century swore allegiance to the Russian emperor. The construction of a luxurious eclectic palace in Zugdidi dates back to this time. Its architecture is really amazing: the palace looks like a Gothic castle, or a Moorish fortress. But it is interesting not only for its unique architecture, but also for the antiquities with which preserved in the castle. The preserved artifacts of Dadiani palace may envy the best museums in the world. The most interesting of them are the antiquities of Constantinople and the personal belongings of the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The treasures of Constantinople came to Zugdidi along with the clergy who fled to the Christian Mingrelia from the Byzantine capital occupied by the Turks. The main exhibit among them is the so-called shroud of the Virgin Mary. She is exhibited in the halls of the palace for big church holidays. The pearl of the second collection is one of the three Napoleon‘s death bronze masks in the world. The fact is that Dadiani were distantly related to the descendants of the emperor, who brought with them these unique things to Zugdidi. By the way, the museum in the palace opened in the XIX century, on the initiative of the owners themselves. Probably, this fact helped save the palace from being plundered.

The road from Zugdidi leads us in the direction of the most beautiful natural monument - Martvili canyon, which is included in almost all must see locations in Georgia. But we will talk about the canyon, the Chkondidi monastery and other interesting places of Samegrelo next time.

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