If you’re tired of fancy, brilliant and astonishing cities and want to feel something new and amazing then a day trip to Chiatura will fill that gap in your heart. why? This is a town full of mystery, soviet glory, and experience.
So let me tell you all what we've learned from our guided urbex trip to Chiatura in Georgia.
History of Chiatura
The town is located along the river Kvirila. It’s surrounded by enormous rocks and beautiful landscapes. The cause of the creation of the town was discovering a layer by German geologist Herman Abikh but in reality, Georgian writer Akaki Tsereteli was the base of constructed models about manganese and this black gold is an organic part of town. Manganese is the most popular mineral in Chiatura and people started using that resource. After that numerous mines were opened here and already in 1905 the manganese production was 60% of the global output. Stalin had a big role in developing Chiatura. Because of its relief they needed something to carry manganese. So they built cable cars and nowadays there are 20 rope-ways in Chiatura. Besides this manganese and cable cars, this soviet brutalist architecture really brings back memories and travels you in the past.
What to see in Chiatura
There is a lot to see in Chiatura. From very natural to very artificial. But cable cars are the first that make the city very popular. This is the most comfortable way to go to the rock or in the village. They were built in 1945 by Giorgi Pantsulaia. However, new cable cars are building now and they will be done soon. But everyone will agree that old ones have a special scent.
Most town buildings were built in the soviet union. For example, The municipality building which was built in 1979 and Cultural Centre (1968). Another glorious building is Akaki Tsereteli Chiatura Theatre (1949). But one of the most mysterious parts of Chiatura is abandoned places. Here you can find four abandoned post-soviet hospitals and astonishing cultural houses which still maintain its greatness.
As you know Georgia is full of churches and Chiatura is not the exception of course. Here you can see the majestic Monastery of Mghvimevi built in the early XIII century. Lovers of antiquity will find here interesting examples of old architecture. It is important for the nation and for the country as a whole. The monastery has become more widely known as the place where our ancestors have lived and blessed the country.
Trip to Katskhi Pillar
Katskhi is a village near the town. It’s popular with an amazing pillar. Katskhi pillar is a natural limestone monolith that towers more than 130 feet, or 40 meters, into the air and on top of which stands what is probably the world's most isolated, and most sacred, churches (would be the best place to hide during Corona). The Katskhi complex is unique. At the top of the column is a church built in the 6th to 8th centuries dedicated to Maximus the Confessor, a 7th-century monk. There's also a burial chamber, a wine cellar, a curtain wall and three hermit cells.
Each day, monks living below make the nerve-jangling 20-minute ascent via a thin metal ladder bolted to the side of the rock. The daily pilgrimage to say prayers at the top is said to bring them closer to God. From the city center to Katskhi it's a 15-minute drive and also you have to walk a few metres before reaching the monastery. In the past men were able to climb to the pillar but nowadays almost no one is allowed to climb. But down there are still so many things to see because nature is astonishing too.
How to get to Chiatura?
There are many options to get to Chiatura. You can take Marshrutka from Tbilisi and it's a 3-hour ride (150km) which will cost 10 GEL. From Kutaisi, it’s an hour and a half ride (75 km) only for 6 GEL. Also, you can take a train from Kutaisi but it will be a 3-hour ride with only for 1 GEL. But if you like adventures you should try hitchhiking, it’s easy in Georgia and you will probably meet many lovely locals.