Planning a trip to Georgia (the country) and looking for unique things to do? Go on an urbex adventure in Tskaltubo. This city was once a much-loved sanitorium destination. A sanitorium was a cross between a spa and a medical center. Soviet elite as well as the workers loved spending time here. In 1936, the Soviet Union gave every Soviet citizen the ‘right to rest’. This meant that they got two weeks of vacation every year and most people spent those weeks in a sanatorium. Tskaltubo became popular after Stalin visited it in 1931. At its peak, Tskaltubo had 19 sanatoriums and 9 bathhouses. Today, most of the sanitoriums and bathhouses are abandoned. Tskaltubo is an urban explorers’ dream. In this blog post, I’ll show what an urbex adventure in Tskaltubo looks like.

Read next: 14 Things to do in Tbilisi, the charming capital of Georgia.

What is Urbex?

Urbex is short for ‘urban exploring’ and it focuses on visiting and photographing abandoned buildings. The decay is what makes these buildings interesting to explore. For most people, visiting abandoned places gets the adrenaline pumping. It is an adventure: how do I get in and what will I find? However, as fun as urban exploring is, it is not without danger. A few general tips: put on a pair of closed shoes, always be on the lookout for weak spots in the floor, and don’t go by yourself.

Urban exploring in Tskaltubo: a few things you should know

If you decide to go to Tskaltubo, there are couple of things you need to know before you go.

  1. Tskaltubo is (slowly) changing. The local government wants to restore the city’s spa image. As a result, a number of sanatoriums have been bought by investors. The places I mention below were accessible during my visit in 2019. But when researching for this blog post, I noticed one place was already shut off.
  2. A number of buildings are occupied by Internally Displaced Persons from Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Around 9000 people were relocated to Tskaltubo after the civil war in the nineties. Out of respect, I don’t recommend visiting these buildings.

Best urbex places in Tskaltubo

Bath house number 8

Status: still accessible at the time of writing.

The Tskaltubo Central Park forms the center of Tskaltubo. All bathhouses can be found in this park and the sanatoriums and hotels are located around the park. Bathhouse number 6 is one of the last bathhouses which is still operating. This bathhouse was built especially for Stalin himself. On the left side of this bathhouse, a path leads to the abandoned bathhouse number 8. From the outside, it doesn’t seem very interesting, until you step inside. Because of the large round hole in the ceiling, the building almost looks like a UFO.

Bathhouse number 5

Status: still accessible at the time of writing..

At the edge of the park, you will find bathhouse number 5. It is near hotel Savane. I personally have not seen this abandoned bathhouse. The sky above us was getting darker with the minute and I wanted to see sanatorium Iveria before it started to pour. You can check out photos of bathhouse number 5 at the blogs of Kami and Kathmandu & Beyond. It looks impressive!

One of the entrance gates of the city park.

Sanatorium Iveria

Status: since fall 2019 closed off.

Sanatorium Iveria was the highlight of my Tskaltubo trip. The building is fenced off, but there was a door in the fence. We quickly checked if we saw a guard or a ‘do not enter’ sign, but all looked good. So we went in. We were immediately impressed when we got to the entrance hall of the sanatorium. The hall is dominated by a large circular opening in the ceiling. For the first time, we also saw other urban explorers. There were three French guys exploring the building as well. It didn’t surprise me, since this is the number 1 building you see when you search for Tskaltubo on Google.

Hotel Savane

Status: still accessible at the time of writing.

When we left Iveria, it started to pour. We decided to quit the urbex hunt, flag down a marshrutka, and go back to Kutaisi. This meant that we, unfortunately, had to skip hotel Savane. Judging from photos of other bloggers, the semi-circular entrance looks very impressive, but the building itself is quite overgrown.

Soviet statues around Tskaltubo Central Park.

How to get to Tskaltubo?

Visiting Tskaltubo is easy. It is located 10 kilometers from Kutaisi and there are regular marshrutkas (= minibusses) making the journey between the two cities. Walk from the Kutaisi market to the Red Bridge, cross the bridge and you will find a parking lot with minibusses on the left side. Take marshrutka number 30 or 34, it leaves every 20 minutes. The drive takes 20 minutes and costs 1.20 GEL. Pay to the driver when you get out.

Have you been to Tskaltubo recently and do you have updates for this list? Buildings closed, buildings opened back up? Please let me know in the comments.

Author

"Don't let your dreams be dreams. Go live your dreams. Go travel", is het motto van Esther. Ze is hopeloos verliefd op al het moois wat deze wereld te bieden heeft. Op Go Live Go Travel combineert ze de liefde voor reizen met haar passie voor schrijven.

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