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Gonio Fortress, Gonio

Landmark · Tourist Spot
Gonio fortress (Georgian: გონიოს ციხე, previously called Apsarus or Apsaros (Ancient Greek: Ἄψαρος) and Apsyrtus or Apsyrtos (Ἄψυρτος)), is a Roman fortification in Adjara, Georgia, on the Black Sea, 15 km south of Batumi, at the mouth of the Chorokhi river. The village sits 4 km north of the Turkish border. Its name was connected with the myth of Medea and her brother Absyrtus.
The oldest reference to the fortress is by Pliny the Elder in the Natural History (1st century AD). There is also a reference to the ancient name of the site in Appian’s Mithridatic Wars (2nd century AD). In the 2nd century AD it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The town was also known for its theatre and hippodrome. Procopius, writing in the 6th century, speaks of the remains of its public buildings as proving that it was once a place of some importance.
It later came under Byzantine influence. The name "Gonio" is first attested in Michael Panaretos in the 14th century. In addition, there was a short-lived Genoese trade factory at the site. In 1547 Gonio was taken by the Ottomans, who held it until 1878, when, via the San-Stefano Treaty, Adjara became part of the Russian empire. In the fall of 1647, according to Evliya Çelebi, Gonio was captured by a Cossack navy of 70 chaikas, but quickly recovered by Ghazi Sidi Ahmed, ruler of the Tortum sanjak, with a force of 1,000 Turks and 3,000 "Mingrelians".

The grave of Saint Matthias, one of the twelve apostles, is believed to be inside the Gonio fortress. However, this is unverifiable as the Georgian government currently prohibits digging near the supposed gravesite. Other archaeological excavations are however taking place on the grounds of the fortress, focusing on Roman layers.

Gonio is currently experiencing a tourism boom. Most tourists come from Tbilisi in the summer months to enjoy beaches that are generally regarded as cleaner than Batumi's beaches (located 15 km to the north).

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Gonio Fortress reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.0
177 reviews
  • About 20min out of Batumi, half way towards Sarfi on the Turkish boarder, with 5Lari admission -a lovely fortress with a clean bathroom and amazing huge fruit.signs in English, and benches along the.....  more »
  • Worth a visit - a well laid out fortress. Check the building with archeological artefacts on display.  more »
  • It's nice to visit this place when in Batumi, to discover some of its history. The ongoing excavations give a good idea about the past and promises a better understanding of what was there. It was...  more »
  • Gorgeous fortress, very well restored. You can also dress up as a Roman legionnaire and pose with ancient weaponry, and all the areas are accessible to visitors. You won't need more than an hour or 90 minutes, so make sure you factor that into your sightseeing plans.
  • We paid the entrance to see plastic chairs, street dogs and taps without water... Are you serious? Such a nice castle of a great historical importance and you have abandoned it that way?? And you ask from tourists to pay to get inside??? Why don't you spend those money to fix those issues inside the castle???
  • Nice place to visit if you are near the area. It takes about 15 minutes stroll around the fortress to cover it. Entry fees, 15 GEL as of August 2019.
  • Cool place. If you like sightseeing and exploring ancient historic stuff definetely pay a visit.
  • Historical and nice place to spend a day. Very interesting

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