Before the start of the holiday season in Abkhazia in 2019, Deputy Minister for Resorts and Tourism Astamur Bartsits spoke on the air of Sputnik Abkhazia radio about the nuances of conducting excursion activities in the republic and about the requirements that apply to those who work with tourist groups. Foreigners are not allowed to conduct excursions in Abkhazia.
Let me remind you that three years ago, the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism of Abkhazia obliged everyone working as guides or instructors of mountain hiking in the republic to take specialized courses, depending on the confirmed work experience. For this, special categories were introduced. Tour guides with little work experience had to receive a license again every year.
Today, the register of guides on the website of the Ministry of Tourism of Abkhazia has data on 211 specialists of the first and second categories. In total, according to the deputy. Minister in Abkhazia certified more than 700 guides. Starting from May of this year, the Ministry of Resorts and Tourism, together with the tax authorities, have been conducting checks for the presence of badges, vouchers and other permits. During the raids, employees of the ministry identify illegal immigrants, that is, those who are engaged in excursion activities in violation of Abkhaz law.
Such checks are certainly necessary. Indeed, the guide is responsible for the safety of the tourist group accompanied by him, is obliged to provide tourists with objective and professional information about the past and present of Abkhazia. Astamur Bartsits also drew attention to the fact that a certain part of the excursion market in Abkhazia was occupied by Russians working without permits.
There are really a lot of such guides. It is not the first year that both Sochi excursion companies and individual individuals have undertaken to conduct excursions in Abkhazia. Someone does such an activity well, but some fully justify the fears of the Ministry of Tourism due to the poor organization of excursions and insufficient professional training of the guides themselves. In 2005, your humble servant just got on a sightseeing tour of Abkhazia, organized outrageously, and a resident of Sochi was simply untenable as a storyteller.
On the other hand, any restriction of business in favor of one or another direction of the economy, as a rule, does not work, if it is not some strategic area such as energy, which, however, has also been clever. Competition helps development, and control over the activities of excursion companies improves the quality of services and replenishes the country's budget with tax deductions. I am more than sure that if a local guide knows and loves his job, he will not lose the competition. And it is more profitable for excursion companies to hire a local than to issue a work permit for foreigners.
However, the protection of national business by the state also evokes understanding. Considering the unemployment rate in Abkhazia, of course, one should think about its citizens first of all. They know how to conduct excursions in Abkhazia, and I personally know real professionals in their field.
Despite the difficult epidemiological situation in the world, Abkhazia continues to receive guests this year. Tourists who miss the sun and the sea enjoy relaxing on the sandy beaches of the Black Sea, getting to know famous natural sites and visiting cultural attractions.
Since August 1, the authorities of the republic have lifted the restrictions on entry that were in force during the pandemic. Now Russian travelers can freely cross the Abkhaz border. It is also not required to conduct tests for Covid-19 at any stage of the trip. According to Russian rules, returning from Abkhazia does not need to be tested. Thus, for those who doubt whether it is possible to go to Abkhazia, we recommend not to postpone the planned vacation and boldly go to the Black Sea resorts.
When crossing borders, vacationers should not have ARVI symptoms; all tourists need to have medical insurance of an international format or a policy valid in the territory of the CIS.
To get to the republic, you must go through the border control in the village of Psou. The process takes about 30 minutes. The checkpoint is open around the clock, every day. Twice a day, half-hour shifts are carried out at the checkpoint (from 7-40 and from 19-40), which reduce the throughput.
Those who plan to cross the checkpoint on foot are advised to avoid busy periods: morning hours (from 08-00 to 11-00) and evening (from 19-30 to 21-30). Those traveling by private car will have to stand at the entrance to the republic from 8-00 to 12-00, at the exit - from 18-00 to 21-30. The queue during rush hours extends the border crossing by 1-3 hours.
The following documents will be required at the border:
A visa, as well as a permit for the export of a minor in the absence of one of the parents, does not need to be issued.
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We all have hopes for the development of our country in the field of tourism, each of us involved in this business is interested in this. Each of us, whether it be hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour operators and excursion bureaus, doing difficult business, wants to attract tourists to our country as much as possible, prepares and waits before each season ... Expectations are different: we are waiting for a successful season, assistance from administrative bodies, and support from the state. Whether these expectations are justified depends on many factors and on ourselves.
There is a lot of talk today about innovation in tourism. What does this mean for Abkhazia? In my opinion, this is to get away from the chaotic and unstructured market of tourist services. We need to determine where the niche that we can occupy, determine where Abkhaz tourism can compete.
I think that the future lies in two directions, which are now enjoying great success in the world. And so, two directions of tourism development in Abkhazia, which can bring it to a new level:
1. Sanatorium and medical resorts.
We must continue what began in the 19th century, when doctors built sanatoriums for their clients.
According to our market research for these services, there are doctors in Russia who want to build guest houses for their patients. They are ready to bring their own equipment, create small boutique clinics with high-class specialists, and in all directions, including simply wellness with yoga, special diet and sports activities, as well as clinics for weight loss, traditional medicine, etc. attractive conditions for the purchase or lease of premises by such doctors, give them guarantees for a long-term business. This will largely solve the problem of seasonality, since it is a year-round business.
All that is needed from Abkhazia is hydrogen sulphide springs, mineral waters, air, eucalyptus and pine groves. And we have it.
Abkhazia is a small and not universally recognized state, which is located on the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and is very reminiscent of Crimea in its history and nature. This article will draw parallels between the two regions. Recently we have already compared Crimea with Armenia in this way.
Crimea from 1954 to 2014 was a part of Ukraine. Abkhazia from 1931 to 1990 was part of Georgia. At the referendums in 1991, 93% of Crimeans supported the restoration of the Autonomy of Crimea, as a subject of the USSR and a participant in the Union Treaty. 99% of Abkhazians supported the Union Treaty as a way to preserve a centralized state instead of the USSR. The Ukrainian authorities ignored the will of the Crimeans, and the Georgian authorities did the same with respect to the citizens of Abkhazia.
Similar parallels are observed in relation to the infringement of the native language and culture, the introduction of alien ideological postulates, the choice of the country's development course, the appointment of external friends and enemies. So the Republic of Abkhazia and Crimea are very similar in many issues.
The history of Abkhazia has turned over many interesting pages. On the territory of modern Abkhazia, the first people appeared in ancient times, in the era of the Lower Paleolithic. This was facilitated by the warm climate, sufficient food, the presence of many caves, forests and rivers.
The first historical monuments date back to the Bronze Age, in the II-III millennium BC. These are dolmens - tombs made of stone blocks, sometimes serving as a sanctuary. Most of the dolmens are houses built of large stone slabs with holes (holes) in the facade, which were closed with a stone plug. In dolmens, researchers found spearheads, bronze axes, ceramics and all kinds of jewelry. About 3000 dolmens were known in the Western Caucasus, most of which, unfortunately, have not survived to this day.
At this time, agriculture and cattle breeding, weaving, ceramics, processing of stone, copper and bronze were developing in Abkhazia. The ethnic composition of the population of these places was quite diverse: various tribes of ancient Abkhazians, Scythians, Svans, Mengrels.
In the 6th century BC, the Greeks appeared in these places, who founded the cities of Pitiunt, Gianos and Dioscuria on the coast. The Greek period of development lasted until the beginning of the new era. A shipyard operated in Dioscuria, coins were minted, and trade flourished.
Since the beginning of our era, the Romans have been fortified in the coastal regions of Abkhazia. They built fortresses in former Greek settlements, were engaged in trade and the expansion of their culture. At this time, local independent tribal formations began to take shape - the principalities of Sanigia, Abazgia, Apsilia, Mishiminia, which adopted Christianity as an independent religion.
From 4 to 10 centuries AD on the territory of Abkhazia, the interests of the two greatest powers of that time collided - the Byzantine Empire and the Arab state of the Sassanids (modern Iran and Iraq). This resulted in many wars, destruction of cities, occupation of land and the interpenetration of different cultures.
References to the article: G. Trebeleva, S. Sakania. Christian temples of medieval Abkhazia. Gagra district//Humanitarian research. 2017. No. 7 [Electronic resource]. URL: . nauka. u/2017/07/24230 (date accessed: 15.9020).
Background: Abkhazia today is a rapidly developing region, both in terms of tourism and agriculture, which poses a certain threat in terms of the preservation of monuments of historical and cultural heritage. There is a need to organize the sparing operation of historical monuments and their preservation for future generations, with the most complete information about the object. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, Abkhazia is a unique region, where monuments of the Middle Ages, including the early ones, have been preserved in a fairly large number and sometimes to a height of several meters above the level of the daytime surface. Including numerous Christian churches. However, the urgency of the problem lies in the fact that descriptions and plans of medieval temples of Abkhazia, with rare exceptions, are absent in the scientific literature, and the vast majority of them have not actually been studied at all, or have been studied fragmentarily.
In general, the history of the study of medieval antiquities in Abkhazia dates back to the works of Dubois de Montpere . Their value lies, first of all, in the qualitative fixation of the then state of the monuments described by him for the first time. P. Uvarov [67-69], and V. Chernyavsky  and A. Pavlinov , and N. Kondakov , and V. Sizov,  and the famous Archimandrite Leonid (Kavelin) [8-10]. The archaeological study of the medieval antiquities of Pitsunda and New Athos was continued in the first post-revolutionary years - the work of A. Bashkirov . After the end of the Great Patriotic War, a period of especially intensive archaeological study of the monuments of this historical period began, which became possible largely thanks to the activities of the famous Abkhaz archaeologist M. Trapsh. . An important role in the history of the study of medieval art in Abkhazia was played by the outstanding art critic and archaeologist L. Shervashidze [82-95]. This man made a serious contribution to the study of the architecture of the Abkhazian kingdom and introduced some religious monuments into scientific circulation. At the same time, the process of discovering and studying new monuments of medieval temple architecture (Katsia, A., Pachulia V. [30, 31, 46-49]) continues, as well as excavations of the late antique layers of the Pitsunda temple complex (Agrba Z. , Logdkipanidze G., Yakobson A. [1-3, 38-39, 96]). The process of accumulating material on individual sites leads to attempts at systematization and analysis, which begin a decade later. So, L. Rcheushvili [52-55] publishes a generalizing work concerning the medieval domed churches of Abkhazia. The process of fruitful study of medieval Christian antiquities in Abkhazia, which reached its peak in the 60-80s of the XX century, was interrupted due to the Georgian-Abkhazian war of 1992-1993. During the war, many of the most valuable archival materials were lost and the monuments themselves were damaged.
Research of monuments resumed only in the new millennium. Archaeological research of medieval churches was resumed by the staff of the AbIGI and the Department for the Protection of the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Abkhazia. (Agumaa A., Bgazhba V., Bgazhba D., Sakania S., Bartsyts R., Kandelaki D., Khondzia Z. [4-5, 11-13, 66, 70]).
E. ... Endoltseva [24-27] in her works dedicated to the Christian antiquities of Abkhazia considers them from an art criticism point of view. She draws parallels between the pictorial plots of the Abkhaz temples with the plots of Armenia and Cappadocia. Very interesting is the work on comparing some of the features of the Abkhaz religious medieval architecture and the architecture of Alania, done by D. Beletsky and A. Vinogradov . Just as interesting and very important is the book of the same authors, dedicated to the temples of the late VIII-X centuries.  It well presents the data available in science on these temples. L. Khrushkova made an attempt to generalize the accumulated material, however, in her monograph , the main emphasis is placed on late antique monuments. As a result, early medieval Christian churches still remain outside the field of vision of scientists. The team of authors tried to fill this gap. In general, the project involves the creation of a catalog of churches throughout Abkhazia. But the implementation of the project was only at the beginning: in 2016, work was carried out in the Gagra district of the Republic of Abkhazia. To date, during the analysis of archival and literary data, as well as direct reconnaissance on the ground, 9 independent architectural complexes, numbering 19 temples, have been identified.
Fig. 1. Map of the temples of the Gagra region (the numbers correspond to the numbering in the text).
For almost all temples, data on the analysis of the binder solution were obtained and systematized. A total of 40 samples (several samples from each temple). The idea is taken as a basis that things that are a priori simultaneous in a specific limited area have the same chemical composition, and that things that are different at different times are different, that is. different deposits of minerals are used (gypsum, sand, clay, limestone), different methods of mixing and proportions of the components of the mixture. T. for example, the chemical composition of the binder solution in the masonry of the walls of simultaneous monuments will not be quantitatively, but qualitatively the same, and for different times they will differ significantly from each other. This was done in order to attempt a preliminary dating of those temples on which full-fledged excavations were not carried out, and there is no other dating material.
In the proposed article, the authors present a description of the temples of the Gagra region. First part of a large project:
1. TSANDRIPSH TEMPLE.
Fig. ... Tsandripshsky temple: plan. photo and analysis of the solution.
The temple is mentioned in the works [6, 20, 23; 28; 34-37; 46-48; 53, 54, 56;] Excavations at the temple were carried out by L. Khrushkova. in the 1980s. [71, 75-77; 98-99].
The temple is located on the western outskirts of modern Abkhazia, a few kilometers from the state border with Russia. It is a three-aisled basilica with three protruding apses in the east. The central apse is pentahedral on the outside and semicircular on the inside; the lateral apses are semicircular outside and inside. The main altar part of the temple is illuminated by three wide altar windows, the side apses are illuminated by single windows. Most of the temple has been destroyed. The vaults of the naves and the narthex and the vestibules are missing. In the northern apse, in the altar semicircle, there is a trefoil-shaped baptismal chamber. The original total length of the temple was 27 m. Width 16. m. Four pairs of square pillars in cross-section divide the interior of the temple into three naves. The central nave as the dominant part of the temple is 2. times wider than the side naves. The apse is pentahedral. The side aisles in their eastern part are emphatically widened, which gives the plan of the temple a "T" shape. An archaeological study of the temple revealed two construction periods in this temple, as well as narrowed down the probable versions of the dating, referring its construction to the Justinian era (6th century AD). The uniqueness of this monument was found out. In the process of archaeological research, previously unknown architectural details of the temple were revealed, such as the western and southern porticos - the vestibules, the baptismal font, fragments of Greek inscriptions, tombs and the presence of numerous marble decoration details. In the late era of the early Middle Ages, the temple underwent a number of constructive changes, which gave the monument a slightly different shape. The inner nave was narrowed due to the strengthening of the nave columns. A stone vault appeared instead of a wooden structure. A fragment of a marble block was found with the inscription "Abazgios" in Greek, which translates as "Abazgian". In the late Middle Ages, part of the Abkhazian people lived on this territory - “Tsandy” sadzy. Representatives of the princely family, the surname Tsanba, were servants of this temple, as one of the main temples in this territory of Abkhazia. But due to the expansion of Ottoman Turkey in the 16th - 17th - 18th centuries, the Christian religion in Abkhazia has seriously suffered. Many temples were destroyed. The overwhelming majority of the family family of Tsanba turned out to be evicted in Turkey during the Russo-Turkish and Caucasian wars. The temple was built of hewn limestone, laid out in two rows, between which there is a backbone of chipped stone and mortar. The solution is lime, the admixture of sand in the samples is 8% and 27%. The vault of the konkha is made of carefully worked limestone, one stone thick. The walls go to the foundation by means of a plinth, the width of which is 0.2 m on each side. The width of the foundations is 1.4 m, the depth is 1.8 m. The foundation is made of cut stone, like the walls, only the stones are smaller here. The foundation of the central pentahedral apse is semicircular, like other semicircular apses. The walls of the narthex continue the walls of the main volume. The overlap was supported by two rows of supports, four in each row. The pillars, almost square in cross-section, stand on massive stylobates connected to the foundation of the walls. Low pillars are interconnected by semicircular arches, the eastern pair of arches rests on pillars and pre-altar pilasters. And the western pair - on the pillars and pilasters in the western wall. Khrushkova L. suggests that the original basilica had a wooden roof truss. Amphoras were used to lighten the vault.