Ozurgeti (ოზურგეთი, from 1934 to 1989 Makharadze მახარაძე) is the small town in Georgia, capital of Guria region. It is a good jumping off point for nearby beaches, mountain resorts, old monasteries and rural tourism.
Ozurgeti was founded in the Middle Ages, 16th Century. The city was the residence of the Prince of Guria and became a trading center in later centuries. Ozurgeti received its town charter in 1840, after becoming part of Russian Empire. The town was a strategic location in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78). In the 19th century Ozurgeti became the hometown of tea producing and citrus growing in Georgia. In 1905 Ozurgeti was center of Georgian Social-Democratic Movement and capital of so called "Gurian Republic" which existed during Russian Revolution. From 1934 to 1989, the city was named after the Georgian Communist Party leader of the 1920s and 1930s, Philip Makharadze. Today's layout and image of the town was established during Soviet times. The largest employers in the city are government and financial institutions, and nut cultivation is the main economic activity.
The nearest major international airport is in Tbilisi (340km), while Batumi (60km) and Kutaisi (70km) International Airports are the nearest accessible airports. Trabzon airport (250km) in Turkey might be an option, also.
There is a daily train pair each to Tbilisi (night and day trains) and Batumi (day train). The former holds the road, among others in Samtredia, The second one also in Kobuleti. Ticket prices from Tbilisi to Ozurgeti vary between GEL 15-30. Trains leave twice a day and take circa 9 hour. Batumi-Ozurgeti train leaves once a day, only evenings and takes 2 hour. Tickets from both cities can be bought at stations and online.
The station a magnificent and newly renovated neoclassical building, is located approximately 500 m north of the center at the end of the Ilia Chavchavadze Street. There is a ticket office and Mini Bus station over there. Taxis await incoming passengers. A taxi from station to city costs 3 to 5 GEL, to villages 4 to 20 GEL.
There are daily coach arrivals and departures in several directions: Kutaisi, Samtredia, Kobuleti and Batumi, also Tbilisi, as well as easy mini bus (marshrutka) access to nearest villages and sites of tourist interest in the area. The main bus station is situated south of the city center next to the large roundabout.
Ozurgeti lies on the well-developed regional road "შ 2" (Kobuleti - Chokhatauri - Sadzhavakho - Samtredia), "შ 46" Ureki-Natanebi-Ozurgeti and "შ 84" Lanchkhuti - Lesa - Ozurgeti; about 7km east from the regional road 'შ 47" Nasakirali - Schuchuti. Roads are paved with asphalt, except "შ 84" which is paved with concrete. Roads are beautiful, but winding, and are ideal for a scenic drive.
- filling stations
- Wissol (ვისოლი), Takaishvili Str. petrol
- Gulf (გალფი). petrol
- Lukoil (ლუკოილი), Kostava Str. petrol
- Socar (სოკარი), Takaishvili Str. petrol
- Rompetrol (რომპეტროლი), Aghmashenebeli Str. petrol
- Prometegas (პრომეთეგაზი), Takaishvili Str. gas
- Prometegas (პრომეთეგაზი). gas
A small town, Ozurgeti is easily covered on foot. The town has no public transport system. Buses and Mini buses (Marschrutkas) go only in the surrounding area. Cycling can be an option, also, but there are no bike rentals, though. Bikes are sold in "Univermagi" for 250-300 GEL (USD 100-125). Taxi's are cheap and cost GEl 3-5 (USD 1-2) within the town.
Ozurgeti has following districts: the center, where government, financial, shopping and service provider institutions are based, Seri south from the center, located on the small hill, historical part of the town Ekadia, former village, now part of the town, south of river Bzhuzhi; Anaseuli - Soviet-era settlement with former tea factory and scientific institutions and sleeping districts: Lashe-Gakiruli in the eastern part of the town, Zvani in the western part and Moidanakhe on the northern hill, where the town's major cemeteries are located.
The main sightseeing in the town is an archaeological site, remains of Baths, which were built and used by rulers of Principality of Guria - Gurieli. Baths are located on the central square of the town. Ruins are left open-air, so its free to visit. These baths must have been oldest building in the town. The oldest survived building of the town is Palace of Dimitri Gurieli, built in 1863, used to be a residence of the noble family, which is now used as a residence of the local Bishop of Georgian Orthodox Church. XIX century typical Gurian wooden houses, with balconies and tile roofs can be found scattered in the town.
The city center is dominated by a Dramatic Theater- the second largest theater building in Georgia, with statue of Alexander Tsutsunava, famous Georgian movie director, born in Ozurgeti. The city center extends along the Chavchavadze street north to the quite remarkable train station. All around are typical magnificent Soviet buildings of the 1930s to the 1960s, in the classical style, such as Former movie theater - built in 1930s and renovated 1980s, but nonfunctional yet and former hotel - constructivist building from the 1970s. Slightly away from the town center is a industrial complex of a clay factory with glorious Soviet residential and administrative buildings and wall mosaics. Also worthy is a mural at a sports school near the train station. Another Soviet industrial and administrative building can be found in Anaseuli, an outskirt in south-western part of the town.
There are also two newly built, Postmodern architecture buildings: Police Office (2009) and Public Service Hall (2012).
Museums and galleries
- Historical Museum Of Ozurgeti (ოზურგეთის ისტორიული მუზეუმი), Chokhatauri Str, ☎ +995 496 75827, e-mail: email@example.com. 10-18 everyday. free of charge.
Historical Museum of Ozurgeti has been founded in 1936 y. nowadays more than 6000 exhibits are saved in the funds of the museum, which chronology consists the period since IX millennium of BC until today. Numerous unique materials have been accumulated during 75 years in the founds of Ozurgeti Historical Museum, at list there are Neolithic stone weapons, produced 7000 years ago, Best models of Kolkhian culture from Early, Middle and Late Bronze age, collections of Kolkhian axes; burial ground stocks aged with Late Bronze- Early Iron period; Golden and silver things of Antique period: golden breastplate, the fragment of golden bracelet (both of them are beautified with Almandine crystal); silver dish, measuring-glass; The water pipes, heads of the columns, the thing for incense, glass of the window, the brick for building; diversified numismatic collections: Kolkhian Tetri of VI-III centuries from BC, golden coin of Alexander Macedonian; the coins of georgian Kings; Silver, rare European coins; well-known Rapier of Napoleon, many historical photos, documentary materials.
- Ozurgeti fine art Gallery (ოზურგეთის სახვითი ხელოვნების ცენტრი), #6 Shota Rustaveli Str, ☎ +995 496 74542, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Fr 10-17. free of charge.
- Ekvtime Takaishvili Archaeological Museum-Reserve (ექვთიმე თაყაიშვილის სახელობის არქეოლოგიური მუზეუმ-ნაკრძალი), #8 9th April Str, ☎ +995 590880118, e-mail: email@example.com. Mo-Fr 10-17. free of charge.
Here are archaeological artifacts exhibited, as well as an exhibition on the life of Ektwmie Takaischwili can be seen. Museum itself is located in old Gurian type wooden house, with fireplace and balcony.
Parks and gardens
Ozurgeti is known for its gardens, some of them date back to XIX century. Scottish gardener Jacob Mar developed town garden in early 1810s fot his client Principal of Guria Mamia III Gurieli. That garden now is divided into three parts: Platanus garden is in front of Theater building and has access to free WI-Fi, platanus trees make a "მ" (M in Georgian Alphabet) shape; so called Samkuthkha (triangle garden) is on the right side of the Theater building and has an open-air mini-football ground, there is, also, Statue of Alexander Tsutsunava, famous Georgian director, who was born in Ozurgeti and Ozurgeti dramatic Theater is named after him; and former "Beria Park", which is located in front of Dimitri Gurieli's palace. Slightly south of the park, a car-free area with a Soviet-era mermaid sculpture and musical fountain can be found.
Other parks are:
- Park of Culture and Resort (კულტურისა და დასვენების პარკი), #2 Kostava Str, ☎ +995 551106194, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 24/7. Created in 1930, it covers about 3 hectares and is located in front of town hall building, #2 Kostava Str. It is used as Children's Amusement Park. There is free WI-Fi available free of charge.
- Park of 9th April, located in the center of town, below of Museum and Public Service Hall
- Ekadia Forest-Park, located in the south of town, in Ekadia district. Forest-park was developed in 1960s, but now its not used. Good views of the town can be seen from the park
Around the town
- Shemokmedi Monastery (შემოქმედის მონასტერი). This 12th-to-16th-century monastery is located on the hill in the eponymous village of Shemokmedi, about 7 km southeast of Ozurgeti. The monastery complex consists of two church buildings and a bell tower from the 16th century. The main church, a three-aisled basilica without cupola, was built in the 12th century. The walls are built of hewn stone, the floor is covered with marble. The second, smaller church called "zarzma" was built in the 16th century by the prince of Guria Vakhtang I. Gurieli as home to an icon of the Transfiguration of the Lord. In the Middle Ages, the monastery was one of the richest monasteries in Georgia. In the monastery there were several relics, such as very valuable icons, stored. Great views of Guria's villages can be seen from the hill. free of charge.
- Jumati Monastery (ჯუმათის მონასტერი). This 16th-to-18th-century monastery is located on the hill in the village of Jumati, 14 km north of Ozurgeti. The monastery consists of a basilica of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, a bell tower, walls and other monastic buildings. The facility was built in the early Middle Ages, while the frescoes date from the 16th to 18th centuries. The bell tower with a square base was built in 1904 and is partially destroyed today. Jumati Monastery was an important religious and cultural center of Guria. Here valuable icons, relics and documents, some of which also had secular significance, were kept. In the 20th century the monastery was robbed several times. Fragments of several icons from Jumati are now in the Hermitage at St. Petersburg, the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Beautiful views of Guria and Samegrelo lowlands and Black Sea can be seen from the hill.
- Likhauri fortress and Likhauri church church (ლიხაურის ციხე და ეკლესია). These are in the village of Likhauri, 5 km south offrom Ozurgeti. The church is in the center of the village, while the fortress is to the west, on the hill. St. Mary's Church of Lichauri was built in the 12th century of carved stone. It has a free-standing bell tower. The fortress was built in the 12th century, allegedly by Queen Tamar, so it is also called the Fortress of Tamar.
- Church of Achi (აჭის ეკლესია). Early medieval period. In the same village there is a one-nave hall church from the 13th-14th century. It has beautiful and well-preserved frescoes.
- Askana fortress (ასკანის ციხე). With six-meter-high stone walls built in the 4th century. It is located in the village of Mtispiri, 16 km southeast of Ozurgeti
- Vashnari (ვაშნარი). Historic city consists of remains of a basilica, a monastery and civic buildings dating back to the 4th century and is located near the village of Gurianta, 6km west of Ozurgeti.
- Jikheti monastery (ჯიხეთის მონასტერი), a XIX century monastery, is located 40 km northeast from Ozurgeti
- Erketi monastery (ერკეთის მონასტერი) was built in the 9th century and is located in village Erketi, 32km east from Ozurgeti.
- Udabno Monastery (უდაბნოს მონასტერი) consist from two churches, one of them is caved. Monastery is located in village Shua Amaghleba, 35 km northeast from Ozurgeti
- Our Saviors and Saint George churches in Aketi. Village aketi is located 20km northeast from Ozurgeti. Saint George church was built in developed middle ages and Our Saviors church was built in 1899
- Eristavi Palace and garden in Goraberezhouli, 25km northeast from Ozurgeti, is only remained secular sightseeing in Guria. The territory consists a garden, stone fence, and a palace. It is dated from XVII century.
- Chekhedana (ჩეხედანა), vill. Tskhrapona, Kobuleti Municipality (from Kobuleti). Chekhedana church was built in 1609 by Mamia II Gurieli. The building was completely destroyed, then rebuilt in the 1990s. Free of charge.
- Mamukas Castle (მამუკას ციხე), vill. Alambari, Kobuleti Municipality (from Kobuleti). 18th-century castle, which was owned by Mamuka Tavdgiridze, was destroyed in 1959 because of earthquake. Only its south wall is still standing. Free of charge.
- Khino (ხინოწმინდა), vill. Khino, Kobuleti Municipality (from Kobuleti). Khino Cathedral was one among three Eparchial Centers of Guria. Nowadays the village lies in Kintrishi Reserve. Free of charge.
- Konchkati Church and Castle (კონჭკათის ეკლესია და კატისციხე).
- Enjoy the views from Ekadia Church. 24/7. This newly-built (as of 2015) Orthodox church is located on the hill in southern part of the town, where a Medieval Orthodox church used to stand. Excellent views of the town can be seen from there. free of charge.
- Cycle around the town there are no bike rentals. Bikes are sold in "Univermagi" for 250-300 GEL (USD 100-125).
- Swim in the rivers. If you are brave enough, swimming in the river Bzhuzhi in the southern part of the town during hot summer days makes you feel local.
- Fish in the small rivers such as Bzhizhi, Ochkhamura, Achi and Natanebi.
Festivals and performances
- Ozurgeti Dramatic Theatre (ოზურგეთის დრამატული თეატრი), #1 Chavchavadze Str, ☎ +995 496273373. Nowadays the theater is only one working institution. The theatre hosts not only plays, but some concerts and performances as well. Information about upcoming events is available in front of the building on the information board. GEL 3-5.
- Alegro a city festival dates back from XIX century. Allegro takes place in the center of the town in early autumn, September or October
- Giorgi Salukvadze Ethnographic Festival, in which the neighboring countries (Turkey, Ukraine, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan) participate, Is being held in the summertime
Despite Georgia's failure to score a major success since independence, football (soccer) remain the most popular sport in the country, and Ozurgeti as well. The town has two major sports clubs - Mertskhali (the swallow), which has the home ground Megobroba (friendship) and Rugby club Piralebi (robbers), which has the home ground Zvani field. Sports Season in Georgia lasts from September to May.
- Sports Palace (სპორტის სასახლე). 10 AM-10PM. Championships in some sports like Volleyball, Handball, indoor Hokey are being held here. Posters are available in the building facade. free of charge.
- Chess club (საჭადრაკო კლუბი). 10 AM-2PM. Chess and Checkers can be played here for free. Sometimes championships in chess are being held too. free of charge.
Chess, Checkers, backgammon, also domino and card games are very common for Ozurgtei. You can find people sitting in yards and playing games. Feel free to join them, just avoid gambling.
There are two supermarkets in Ozurgeti: "Chemi Marketi" (My Market) in the large shopping center on Guria Street and Moderni on Ekvtime Takaishvili Street. Locally made bread and pastry, named "Vasadze's Bread" can be found on Gabriel Episkoposi Str., below the church. Tee and Coffee House is near it.
- "Bazari" (ბაზარი), Guria Str. everyday, 8-16. An open-air market - among other things there are sold Fruits, vegetables, clothing, meat, cheese. free of charge.
- "Univermag" (უნივერმაღი), G, Chanturia Str.. everyday 9-18. Old Soviet department store where is today Chinese rubbish mostly sold.
- Biblusi (ბიბლუსი), 9th April Park, ☎ +995 593100391, e-mail: email@example.com. everyday 9-18. a small book shop
- Nikora (ნიკორა), #2 Gabriel Episkoposi Str, ☎ +995 595305933. A reasonably well-stocked supermarket chain
Eating in Ozurgeti is very cheap. Prices per person may be vary from 5 to 10 USD. Do not buy wine in restaurants, its better to buy wine in a shop and take it in restaurant. The best choices are Corn bread, cheese, cucumber and tomato salad, eggplant with nuts, barbecue, kebab, Khachapuri, Beef with potatoes (Ojakhuri), fried chicken in garlic (Shkmeruli).
- "Khachapuris Sakhli" (Khachapuri House) (ხაჭაპურის სახლი), #2 Chavchavadze Str. Cafe where Georgian national khachapuri and pizzas are sold.
- Lelango (ლელანგო), Ioane Petritsi Str. Cafe is owned by Georgian Orthodox church. It has its own bakery and take-away service, inside and outside seats.
- Rvas + 1 (რვას+1), #3a Gabriel Episkoposi Str, ☎ +995557602183, e-mail: YPUozurgeti@yahoo.com. 10AM-6 PM. Serves only non-alcoholic beverages, pies and pancakes, has internet and library, is adapted for disabled people.
- Kalakuri (ქალაქური), #2 Gabriel Episkoposi Str. everyday 10 AM-10 PM. An Asiatic restaurant, with live music at evenings.
- Tonus (ტონუსი), #25 Akaki Tsereteli Str, ☎ +995 496 276035, +995 496 273833, fax: +995 496 276035, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. everyday 9-23. Slightly away from the center, restaurant Tonusi has its own brewery. The building is a jewel of Soviet industrial architecture. Beer on tap is sold outside, also.
- Gurge (გურჯი), #25 Gabriel Episkoposi Str, ☎ +995 591239320. Restaurants interior is covered with old items, wooden furniture and photographs from the 19th century depicting life in Ozurgeti.
- Pirosmani (ფიროსმანი), Guramishvili Str. Restaurant with Georgian cuisine.
- Piralebi (ფირალები), Apolon Tsuladze Str. Traditional Gurian style restaurant, Georgian cuisine.
- Gurulebis Ezo (გურულების ეზო), #8 Guria Str, ☎ +995 555327724. 10AM-00AM. You will find here a pleasant and warm atmosphere and delicious Georgian cuisine, specifically Gurian dishes. The restaurant offers delivery service and its own parking place. $.
If you get invited in someones house, your host may also offer you Georgian "chacha," an outrageously potent vodka distilled from grapes.
- Wine House (ღვინის სახლი), Bolkvadze Str. A well-stocked wine shop is located opposite the train station.
- TRAP lounge (ტრეპ ლაუნჯი), #4 Chavchavadze Str, ☎ +995 551703001, e-mail: email@example.com. 11 Am- 01 PM. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks. Payments with Visa, American Express, MasterCard and cash. Take away service.
- Background Bar (ბექგრაუნდ ბარი), #4 Chavchavadze Str, ☎ +995599719991, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-01AM. Bar Restaurant in the middle of Ozurgeti. Here you can explore nice music, staff and comfortable atmosphere. High speed WiFi is included
There is only one hotel in Ozurgeti and some Guesthouses. Guesthouses are good opten for budget travelers. They are clean, safe and cheap and give opportunity, to meet local people. A wide range of accommodation are available in the beach resort towns Ureki and Kobuleti, where, however, many businesses are closed during winter.
- S A M (სემი), #25 Guramishvili Str, ☎ +995 496261126, e-mail: email@example.com. Newly opened, as of 2015, this is the only hotel in Ozurgeti. 60-70 GEL per night.
- Guesthouse, Dimitri Bakradze Str, ☎ +995 593154345. GEL 30-40 per night, breakfast included.
- Guesthouse, #55a David Aghmashenebeli Str, ☎ +995 496275411. GEL 30-40 per night, breakfast included.
- Guesthouse, ☎ +995 496273499. GEL 30-40 per night, breakfast included.
- Guesthouse, Dimitri Eristavi Str, ☎ +995 496275411. GEL 30-40 per night, breakfast included.
- Guesthouse, Gagma Dvabzu, ☎ +995 599787516. Very nice Guesthouse with rural activities is located outside of town, in village Dvabzu. GEL 30-40 per night, breakfast included.
- See also: Georgian phrasebook
Gurians speak much more quickly than average Georgians from other regions, so it is more complicated to understand them. The older generation speaks Russian fluently, and Armenian as well. The younger generation now studies English. Almost every school in Ozurgeti has a native English-speaking teacher. There are some US and European volunteers who speak English as well. When in need for help, look for younger people; they are more likely to know some English.
There are no universities in the town. Only one technical school operates. Wide range of driving schools is in Ozurgeti. It seems easyer to get driver's license in Ozurgeti then in other towns in Georgia.
Working time in Ozurgeti starts at 09:00 or 10:00 and end at 16:00–18:00. Locals like to take an hour lunch break and enjoy their food while socializing with their co-workers. Approaches to punctuality used to be very relaxed. Summer (late July-August) and January are months when people take two weeks or a whole month off work to enjoy vacationing with family. A local wage in Ozurgeti will typically be around 300–400 GEL a month, with only a small section of public servants making in the range of 800–1000 GEL a month.
Foreigners working in Ozurgeti are employed as volunteers. There are volunteers from the US Peace Corps and EVS (European Volunteering Service) volunteers from Poland, Germany, and Lithuania. These volunteers mostly work for the NGOs Young Pedagogues Union, Guria Youth Resource Center and Student Youth Council.
Free wireless internet is avilable in the Platanus garden and Culture and Resort Park, free internet is avialable in Public Service Hall, also.
- USAID Center for Civic Engagement (დემოკრატიული ჩართულობის ცენტრი), #14 Chavchavadze Str, ☎ +995 598538571, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyday, except sunday, 10 Am - 7 PM. Free Internet, desktop computers, wireless Internet, skype and headsets. Free of charge.
- Internet Cafe, #4 Rustaveli Str. Windows XP, slow connection, skype, webcams and headsets GEL 1 per hour.
- Georgian Post Service Center (საქართველოს ფოსტა), #2 Gogebashvili Str. The Postal Code of Ozurgeti is 3500. GEL 1 per hour.
There are 3 GSM operators of mobile phone service: Magticom, Geocell and Beeline. Their offices are near each other on the Chavchavadze Str.
Ozurgeti is very safe for travelers. the crime rate is among the lowest in Europe. Most of the streets are illuminated at night. Police cars patrol the streets in the town and can help with any problem. Call 112 in any case of emergency (police, ambulance, fire).
Tap water is good for drinking in Ozurgeti. Ozurgeti has one of the best tap water among Georgia's cities.
You will find many gym in the Sports Palace, on the second floor. Monthly ticket costs GEl 50 and covers 12 visit to the gym. You can work out in Park of Culture and Resort, where open-air training equipment is available.
There are four pharmacies open 24/7, in front of "Bazari", GPC, PSP, Impex and Aversi.
There is no Tourist Office or travel agency in Ozurgeti. Nearest tourist offices are available in Ureki and Kobuleti, but only during summer.
- Public Service Hall (იუსტიციის სახლი), #9 Petritsi Str. Mo-Fr 09 AM - 18 PM.
There are plenty of buses and minibuses to neighboring villages (generally 0.5 GEL to 2 GEL). Buses and minibuses leave from central bus station in the south part of the town, or from the station on Aghmashenebeli Str, near big roundabout. The best destination may include
- villages and rural tourism
- Mountain resorts
- Bakhmaro (only in summer)
- Gomismta (only in summer)
- beach resorts (only in summer)
Outside of the Guria region, popular destinations may include Kobuleti and Batumi. There are plenty minibuses, they leave in every hour from 8 AM to 5 PM to Batumi. Travel to Batumi costs 5 GEL, to Kobuleti - 3 GEL.