Short History

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Gold medallion with the image of Helios, 1-2 cc. AD, found in Gonio, south of Batumi..

Batumi is an old city. The site was inhabited already in the antique period, but the town developed particularly in the 12-15 centuries, thanks to its harbour and geopolitical location as the gateway to Southern Caucasus from the Black Sea. The harbour played an important role in the communication between Georgia and the Byzantine Empire. One of the branches in the East-West transit along the Silk road passed through Georgia and Batumi was a part of this trade route. Merchants from Venice and Genua were also active in the trade with the fortified city of Batumi.

At the end of the 16th century Batumi came under the Ottoman Turks. The town retained its position as a trading center, and gradually expanded towards the lowlands and bay area. The capacity of the old harbour close to the mouth of the river Korolistskhali was insufficient for bigger ships and the natural harbour in the bay was more suitable.

The expansion of Batumi on the bay area lowlands was intense in the beginning of the 19th century and during the 1860-70s the city center took shape in the northwestern part. Commerce and trade were flourishing and a number of foreign consulates opened (Russian, Italian, French, Persian).

After the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-78 Batumi and the Adjara region became part of the Russian Empire. This brought new development to the city. The harbour was reconstructed. In 1883 a railroad opened connecting Batumi to Tbilisi and Baku and in 1900 the oil pipeline Baku-Batumi started its opeation, thus turning Batumi into an important transportation hub with significant growth in oil industry, shipping and other branches. International representatives and consulates included Great Britain, Germany, France, Sweden, USA and many other countries.

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Mariinsky Avenue 1911 (present-day Europe Square)

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 brought dramatic change to civil and industrial life in Batumi. This is also the time of the Russian revolution and the Bolshevik over-throw of the tsarist Russian government. (1917).

Soviet Russia under Lenin withdrew from the First World War under the Brest-Litovsk treaty in 1918, ceding its control over the Caucasus. Following a short period of British occupation (1918-1920), Batumi district was transferred by the allied forces to the independent Democratic Republic of Georgia. However, shortly afterwards (February 1921), Georgia was attacked and occupied by Soviet Russia. Georgia including Batumi district was integrated into the Soviet Union, first as a part of the Transcaucasian Federative Republic and later as the Georgian Socialist Soviet Union Republic with Adjara as an Autonomous republic.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Georgia restored its independence. Adjara remained an Autonomous republic of Georgia with Batumi as its capital.

Source: Uznadze, R., Surmanidze, R. and N. Zosidze. (2013). Batumi (ist’oria da tanamedroveoba). Tbilisi: Iverioni.