Write: Melih Uslu Photos: Ahmet Zeki Yavaş
THE BLACK SEA’S NEW STAR, BATUMI REQUIRES NO VISA OF CITIZENS OF TURKEY. AND ITS STARRED HOTELS TO FIT EVERY BUDGET AND THE BAKLAVA IT OFFERS ON ENTRY ARE THE ICING ON THE CAKE.
Did you know that citizens of Turkey can enter Batumi on their Turkish ID card alone?
Not only that, because Turkish is widely spoken in the city, Turks feel right at home there. A city within easy reach for a weekend getaway, Batumi has grown rapidly in the last five years thanks to investments by the Turkish construction sector. As new buildings, hotels and business and shopping centers go up through consultancy with Turkish and European architects, a special board of consultants has also taken charge of city planning. With a richness dating from antiquity right through the Ottoman period, the city’s fabric is in evidence in a different guise on every street. Meanwhile semi-tropical rains, heavy especially in spring and fall, endow the city with alluring green parks and gardens. But summer is the most festive time in Batumi when the city’s coastal strip is a favorite with residents of the Caucasus and the Black Sea countries for its five-kilometer-long beach. Blanketed in white in the winter months, the city takes on a more romantic air. There are numerous places you must not return without seeing, because you too are going to love Batumi.
BATUMI BOULEVARD: Running for several kilometers along the coast, this grand avenue is intersected by large parks, golden-domed cathedrals, cafes, squares, tennis courts and decorative pools.
BATUMI STATE PARK: This park on Batumi’s coastal strip is a virtual island of green on a shore of blue. Adjacent to the park, Batumi University is an elegant example of Tsarist-era architecture.
INDEPENDENCE SQUARE: Many important events in Batumi’s history took place on this square. Adorned with unique and aesthetically pleasing sculptures, it is surrounded by historic churches. The Statue of Medea, icon of the city, also stands here.
BATUMI ART MUSEUM: Built in 1949, this museum, which first exhibited only local art works, was later enriched with examples of Russian and Western European art.
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Batumi-Istanbul flights five days a week. Departure times are at 1:25 p.m. from Istanbul and 6:05 p.m. from Batumi.
PALACE OF JUSTICE
Opened last year, Batumi Palace of Justice is the work of Turkish architects and engineers. Colorfully illumined at night, it lends beauty to the entire city.
BATUMI BOTANICAL GARDENS
Nine kilometers north of the city, this is the world’s largest botanical gardens. Opened in 1912, it boasts over 2,000 species of flora from the Caucasus to as far away as Mexico and the Far East. Touring the gardens in a mini golf cart and seeing the escarpments is very enjoyable indeed.