Batumi, nestled in the extreme south-western corner of Georgia, is among the world's oldest cities. The city, situated along the historic Silk Road that bridged Europe and Asia, boasts a temperate and subtropical climate typical of coastal locations. Its diverse natural beauty and contrasting terrain are further enhanced by a deep, convenient marina and natural wind protection. This unique combination has made Batumi and its environs intriguing and attractive to foreigners and neighboring peoples throughout history, ensuring a constant influx of visitors.
This interest particularly escalated since the 1880s when a railway linked Batumi with Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and Baku, Azerbaijan's capital. The city was frequently visited during this period, prompting the operation of approximately thirty hotels in Batumi at the dawn of the 20th century. Foreign travelers and researchers often drew parallels between Batumi and the Riviera, given its natural conditions, and predicted a promising future for the city. Renowned researcher and traveler Nicholas Veru once remarked, "In Batumi, the splendor of the Riviera and the majestic mountains of Switzerland harmoniously converge. The wind here is less intense."
The earliest known reference to Batumi is attributed to Aristotle in the 4th century BC. Some scholars interpret the term "Batea" (Greek for "depths") to denote Batumi. Jean Muriet, a noted historian, stated that Batumi was a recognized city as early as 400 BC. Further, it is also mentioned by Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) in the form of "Bata" and "Matium".
The second Roman writer and statesman, Arian, who, like Pliny, explored the coasts of Colchis and Kartli, does not mention any settlement in Ajara except for Apsaros. However, a river known as Batisi, present-day Korolistskali, which is phonetically similar to Batumi, is referenced. It's plausible that Arian did not focus on Batumi as there was no Roman military garrison there during his time.
On the Roman road map, the so-called "Tabula Peutingeriana" from the 4th century, the geographical point "Portus Altus" is marked in the approximate location of modern Batumi. Renowned historian Kaukhchishvili, after analyzing ancient sources, concluded that Batumi's inclusion on the world map in the 2nd century signifies its importance as a city and port during that period.
Undoubtedly, maritime transport was critical to the foreign trade of feudal Georgia. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Batumi could have been the most crucial harbor on the Black Sea in Georgia. Only Batumi had a bay situated at the major trade intersection of East and West, making it an exceptional natural harbor for ships.
In the 19th century, Batumi's port was granted porto-franco status (Free Port) and connected to the international community via railway. This significantly amplified the city's expansion and increased its influence. This era saw the flourishing of trade and artisan crafts, leading to the construction of libraries, schools, gymnasiums, factories, and more. Since 1881, harbor development has been ongoing. The city was swift in adopting modern means of communication: on April 1, 1885, the first telephone call in Batumi was made. The population of Batumi grew steadily during this period.
By the close of the 20th century, Batumi had rightly earned its place as the third most significant city in Transcaucasia, following Baku and Tbilisi. This industrial development was mirrored by a corresponding population growth.
Today, Batumi stands as one of Georgia's most beautiful cities. Its charm is continually blossoming, yet it retains its rich history. Restored 19th-century buildings, structures adorned with intricate railings and balconies, quiet cobbled streets wafting with the aroma of coffee, citrus and sea breezes characterize the city. Batumi's well-developed tourist infrastructure appeals to international visitors.
As evening descends, Batumi sparkles with modern night lights and the glow from luxury hotels of international renown. The city transforms into a sea of illumination, with even the beach brightly lit. A bustling hub of tourist activity, Batumi's streets are a meeting point for visitors from across the globe. Numerous restaurants and cafes provide an excellent opportunity to savor traditional Georgian and Adjarian cuisines. Among many tourist attractions, Batumi boasts one of the world's longest boulevards, spanning 7 km, where one can rent a bicycle for a scenic ride.
Batumi's locals are renowned for their hospitality and friendliness, always ready to assist. They affectionately refer to Batumi as the "city of love".
The city's subtropical climate, the therapeutic warm Black Sea, the extensive tourism and resort infrastructure along the coastline, and the unique blend of mountains and sea coalesce to create the ideal vacation conditions in Batumi. Those who visit Batumi are likely to find it an unforgettable experience.