Europe

  • The sun sets over a pier and the waterfront quay in the Black Sea port of Sukhumi, a landscape that prompted early 20th century painters and vacationers to call Abkhazia ‘the Russian Riviera.’ (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Gagra train station was built to welcome Soviet leader Joseph Stalin who vacationed at a villa on the shores of Lake Ritsa, high in the Caucasus Mountains. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • At Pitsunda, an observation deck and disco entertained 1970's vacationers from East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.(V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Used as a warehouse during the Soviet era, New Athos Monastery how has newly restored gold domes and freshly painted white walls. It is the pride of contemporary Abkhazia. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Above the Monastery, Christian pilgrims have left icons in a mountainside grotto, where Simon the Zealot, one of the 12 Apostles, is believed to have lived. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Looming over Freedom Square in Sukhumi stands the bombed out ruin of the Georgian military’s last headquarters, untouched since they lost control of Abkhazia in the summer of 1993. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Mold spreads over a Lenin statue standing outside the gutted shell of a Georgian language school in Bzipta, Abkhazia. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Images of war heroes are superimposed on the Abkhaz flag, with the inscription in Russian and Abkhaz: “For the peace and freedom of Abkhazia!” (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • A decaying hillside mansion, built in the Art Nouveau style, speaks of Sukhumi’s prosperous days as a Czarist era port and health cure sanatorium. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • A Turkish ship unloads cargo in Sukhumi. Georgian Navy patrol boats have largely stopped detaining Turkish ships that supply Abkhazia, an entity still viewed by almost all nations as legally part of Georgia. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • Even off season, in March, local fruit products are for sale in Sukhumi’s Central Market. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • The Sukhumi Botanical Garden was founded in 1840 to introduce tea and citrus to Czarist Russia’s new territories in the Caucasus. It was restored after the 1992-1993 war. (V. Undritz/VOA)
  • “Eternal Glory to the Heroes of Abkhazia” proclaims a memorial to soldiers from Abkhazia and other Caucasian republics who died to win control over a key highway bridge into Sukhumi in 1993. (V. Undritz/VOA)

Abkhazia, Once Called the "Russian Riveria"

Published April 11, 2013

In the aftermath of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Russia recognized Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, as a fully independent country.


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