From Resort to Ruins: The War-Torn Ghost Town of Gagra

Gagra Resort Before WarPhoto: Daniel Rogalsky

The “Russian Riviera” had a subtropical climate, a gorgeous scenic location on the Black Sea coast, magnificent buildings, and lush forested mountains.

Abandoned Resort on the Black Sea CoastPhoto: trttptm

The resort city of Gagra is now in war-torn ruins and is an abandoned ghost town.

Ruins of resortPhoto: trttptm

Gagra was a popular tourist destination, a health resort in Imperial Russia during the days of the Soviet Union. It is still the warmest city on the Black Sea coast; its beautiful beaches stretch on for miles.

Palace in RuinsPhoto: vesna

Gagra had a population of 26,636 in 1989, but all-out war erupted between 1992 and 1993. Hundreds of thousands of Georgians were expelled from their homes or massacred. Gagra turned into a ghost town due to “ethnic-cleansing and mass expulsion of ethnic Georgians from Abkhazia.”

Duke Peter of Oldenburg Ruined CastlePhoto: trttptm

Duke Peter of Oldenburg, a Russian aristocrat, built a palace and a hotel in Gagra. This made a holiday destination for the rich. The images below show what is left of his dilapidated castle and hotel.

Duke Peter Sea View Office - PalacePhoto: trttptm

Hotel ChaikaPhoto: trttptm

Mountain Debris InsidePhoto: trttptm

Palace of Duke PeterPhoto: trttptm

Ruined Seagull HotelPhoto: trttptm

Due to the countless thousands of murders, an extermination of people, the area has seen more than its share of trauma. Some claim that the overgrown ruins of war-torn Gagra are more than a ghost town; some claim Gagra is haunted with real ghosts.

View down from Duke Peter's PalacePhoto: trttptm

Below is the Fountain of Three Graces.

Fountain of Three GracesPhoto: trttptm

The two sculptures below are located in Gagra’s park. One is surrounded by a mossy pond.

Gagra ParkPhoto: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko

Sculpture in Gagra ParkPhoto: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko

Behind the Gagarin Square is the abandoned Abaata Railway Station. The station and walkway are seen below.

Abandoned Abaata Railway StationPhoto: trttptm

Overgrown Railway Station WalkwayPhoto: trttptm

This is the once grand but now dilapidated cinema.

CinemaPhoto: trttptm

The Gagripsh Restaurant and the wooden “Seagull” Hotel were purchased by Prince Oldenburg at an exhibition in Paris. They arrived in Abkhazia in parts and had to be reconstructed. The photographer does not recommend the food.

Gagripsh Restaurant OverlookPhoto: trttptm

Gagripsh RestaurantPhoto: trttptm

Like any posh health resort in a warm location, both the beach and the surrounding mountains were part of the charm. Walkways like those below existed for tourists.

Health Resort WalkwayPhoto: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko

Tseretelis monstersPhoto: Daniil Dugaev

Waterfront MonumentPhoto: Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko

Mysterious chairPhoto: Daniil Dugaev

Ruined ResortPhoto: trttptm

Below is Prometheus along the mountain walkway of the abandoned Gagra resort.

PrometheusPhoto: annataliya

Joseph Stalin was once a dictator and leader of the Soviet Union. Pictured below are the ruins of his summer home.

Stalin's Summer Home RuinsPhoto: argenberg

The abandoned yellow lift car is all that is left of the ride that once transported visitors from place to place along the resort. There also used to be the remains of a red tram car, but it was blown up during the filming of a movie.

Yellow Tram CarPhoto: trttptm
Even though the resort is in abandoned ruins now, nature is still as gorgeous as ever and surrounds Gagra.

View from the mountainPhoto: trttptm

Waterfall in the mountainsPhoto: argenberg

Zhoekvarskoye RavinePhoto: trttptm

Zhoekvare GorgePhoto: trttptm

Gagra Beach NowPhoto: icqipsy

Gagra Beach at sunsetPhoto: icqipsy

Fantastic Gagra NaturePhoto: vesna

Thank you to the Russian photographers who granted me permission to use their photos in this article. Also thank you Creative Commons photographers. ;-)

Sources: 1,2,3,4