A Roman fortification in Georgia

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Things to do


Date of travel

June, 2023

Product name

Gonio Fortress

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Gonio fortress is a Roman fortification in Adjara, Georgia, and we visited whilst staying in Batumi, 15km away although it is only 4 km from the Turkish border.

The entrance to the fortress is through a large imposing gate, and on the other side we were greeted by two large flower beds planted up to resemble the Georgian flag (the flag of St George, with four smaller red crosses, one in each corner), and the flag of Adjara (an autonomous republic) with seven dark blue and white stripes, with the Georgian flag in the corner. The extensive and unrestored high stone walls were impressive along with 18 towers.

A path with a plant covered arch took us to the ongoing excavations where they discovered three levels from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. There were also displays of drainage pipes which would have provided underfloor heating.

An ornate marble tomb marked what is said to be the grave of St Matthew the Apostle, although this is unverified as the Georgian government currently prohibits digging nearby.

Our guide was keen for us to climb a precarious path with huge stones and then a very steep flight of steps up to the walls where we looked down into a large pit. It all felt a bit scary, and we were pleased when we were back on terra firma.

Our visit concluded with the small museum containing artefacts found on the site.

Helen Jackson

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