The semi-tropical Black Sea port and resort city of Batumi lies on the western edge of Georgia, just 15km north of Turkey. Batumi is well documented in ancient history as the gateway to the kingdom of Colchis and the ‘Land of the Golden Fleece’. In Greek mythology, Jason and the Argonauts succeeded in securing the fleece in 340 to 330BC from the then King Aeetes of Colchis.
Initially just a tiny village and Greek trading post, the subsequent rule by the Roman empire under Emperor Hadrian in the second century AD turned Batumi into a thriving economic and strategic outpost. After the departure of the Romans, the settlement became largely neglected due to a sustained wave of Turkish imperial rule and civil conflicts, and it was not until the 19th century that imperial Russia transformed Batumi into a thriving port, oil terminus and railway hub. Batumi finally gained full independence, as part of Georgia with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Today, despite being a busy commercial centre, Batumi maintains a tranquil atmosphere. Beautiful gardens and beaches combine with well-preserved Russian imperial architecture, all against a stunning backdrop of the Black Sea on one side and Caucasian mountains on the other.