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Tskaltubo Georgia: Healing Waters & Abandoned Sanatoriums.

What’s the appeal of Tskaltubo, Georgia? Close to Kutaisi, Tskaltubo carries a rich history. It was a hot vacation spot in the Soviet Era, famous for its therapeutic mineral springs. Today, while the sanatoriums are still there, many stand as echoes of their past grandeur.

Whether you visit the still open and operational thermal baths in Tskaltubo or you’re there for the majestic, yet long-abandoned sanatoriums. Either way you are bound to have an interesting experience to tell your friends back home about.

the abandoned beauty of Tskaltubo Georgia
the abandoned beauty of Tskaltubo Georgia

Key Takeaways

  • Tskaltubo was a famous spa resort in the USSR, known for its healing hot springs and ability to welcome 125,000 visitors each year. The luxurious Tskaltubo Hotel Prometheus was its standout attraction.

  • The town’s architecture blends Modernism and Socialist Realism, showcasing the Soviet Union’s emphasis on health and efficiency. Iconic structures like Sanatorium Iveria and Bathhouse No. 8 stand as prime examples of this design style.

  • Tskaltubo today still has a variety of accommodation options where you can indulge in spas and hot tubs, as well as massages and other treatments.

Discovering Tskaltubo: A Healing Haven in Georgia

tskaltubo georgia
tskaltubo georgia

Imagine stepping into a time machine and being transported to an era where wellness and rejuvenation were a part of state policy. That’s Tskaltubo for you. In its heyday, it was one of the largest resorts in the USSR, where it welcomed around 125,000 travelers each year.

But what made Tskaltubo such a sought-after destination? The secret lies beneath the earth. The town’s thermal springs have been renowned for centuries for their healing properties, drawing visitors seeking wellness and relaxation from far and wide.

The healing springs of Tskaltubo, known as the “Waters of Immortality,” have a long history dating back to the 7th-9th centuries. The development of Tskaltubo as a spa resort began in the 1920s when the territory became state property. By 1931, it was designated as a spa resort and balneology center (the science of the therapeutic use of baths) by the government of the Georgian Soviet Republic. The natural temperature of the water is 33–35 °C (91–95 °F) which means it requires no additional heating – it’s perfectly toasty warm all on its own.

During the Soviet era, Tskaltubo flourished as an important spa destination, with the construction of numerous sanatoriums, baths, and other facilities. Here’s a fun fact for you: “Spring No. 6,” still the biggest thermal bath in operation today, was originally constructed in 1950 just for Joseph Stalin, who is actually Georgian and was the Soviet Union’s leader back then.

But despite its Soviet-era prominence, visitor numbers dwindled after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The History of Tskaltubo Georgia

Haunting beauty of the abandoned sanitoriums in Tskaltubo Georgia
Haunting beauty of the abandoned sanatoriums in Tskaltubo Georgia

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, Tskaltubo’s sanatoriums served a bigger purpose than just providing a spot for relaxation. They were actually tools used to promote political ideals, aimed at boosting worker productivity by encouraging collective leisure activities.

These impressive buildings were a key aspect of the Soviet government’s postwar welfare strategy, showing their “dedication to citizens wellbeing”, which included initiatives for better health and sanitation.

Inside one of the former spa hotels in Tskaltubo
Inside one of the former spa hotels in Tskaltubo

During the peak of Soviet rule, a train connected Moscow to Tskaltubo, offering travellers a direct route to the spa town in Georgia. This journey provided passengers with a scenic ride through Russia’s landscapes, ending with a vacation of relaxation in Tskaltubo’s healing waters. Although this train route is no longer operational, it’s often mentioned by many local guides when discussing Tskaltubo, and remains a nostalgic reminder of the town’s former glory days.

The sanatoriums of Tskaltubo, took on a completely different role after they were abandoned. In the early 1990s, during the conflict in Abkhazia, these grand buildings became makeshift homes for thousands of people who had to flee their homes. What used to be a holiday spot for relaxation and healing transformed into a refuge for displaced families.

Today, as you walk through these dilapidated structures, you can sense the layers of history, from luxury to sanctuary, all set against the backdrop of Georgia’s complex past.

Accommodations and Amenities

While most tend to visit Tskaltubo as a day trip from Tbilisi or Kutaisi, Tskaltubo still offers a range of accommodation options where you can book a room for a few days to experience the healing waters for yourself. Popular resorts include Tskaltubo Hotel Prometheus, Tskaltubo Plaza Hotel & Resort, and the Legends Tskaltubo Spa Resort. Every room in these hotels offers modern comforts and are equipped with amenities like air conditioning, televisions, minibars, en-suite bathrooms, and complimentary WiFi.

But a stay in Tskaltubo is more than just a comfortable room. It’s an experience that rejuvenates your body and soul. And that’s where the town’s wellness facilities come in. From:

  • hot tubs

  • spas

  • saunas

  • fitness centers

  • outdoor pools

These offer a relaxing retreat for guests to help let go of the stresses of everyday life, especially in their well-thought-out public areas. And if you’re looking for a little extra indulgence, Tskaltubo has you covered. Additional services available at a charge include:

  • Massages

  • Room service

  • Health care packages with medical consultations

  • Electrotherapy

These services offer a comprehensive wellness experience.

So, whether you’re soaking in a hot tub or unwinding with a massage, Tskaltubo ensures that your stay is not just comfortable, but truly healing.

Making the Most of Your Visit

Visit Tskaltubo Georgia
Visit Tskaltubo Georgia

When in Tskaltubo, do as the history buffs do – explore! Visiting the town’s many abandoned sanatoriums in Tskaltubo and hotels offers a unique and historical exploration opportunity. Each of these buildings is a silent witness to Tskaltubo’s past, holding stories of a time when the town was a bustling wellness destination.

As you wander around, remember that safety should be your top priority, and it is not advised to let yourself into a property that is fenced and locked up just to get a photo. Remember – They are privately owned properties! It’s always a good idea to ensure you have travel insurance so that you’re fully covered before you set out on your adventure. Don’t forget to check in with your insurance provider to confirm your coverage details and check out their additional safety recommendations for travel in Georgia.

abandoned sanatorium in Tskaltubo
abandoned sanatorium in Tskaltubo

Walking is the best way to explore Tskaltubo, so remember to pack a good pair of travel shoes. Walking the town allows you to soak in the town’s historic atmosphere while getting an up-close experience of its abandoned sites, and I do recommend hiring a local guide to help explain some of the area’s past.

What Else is there to do in Tskaltubo?

Prometheus Caves - Things to do in Georgia Country
Prometheus Caves – Things to do in Georgia Country

Tskaltubo’s charm isn’t limited to its historic spa resorts. The town is also a stone’s throw away from other fascinating attractions. One must-visit is the Prometheus Caves, located just 15 minutes from Tskaltubo. This mesmerizing cave is worth an additional 1.5 hours of your time.

Also if you are exploring Tskaltubo, make sure a visit to Otias Ezo is on your list. This family-run winery, nestled in the Imereti wine region, offers more than just a taste of traditional Georgian winemaking; it invites you to explore its craft beers as well. The winery is set in the former home of the Georgian writer Otia Loseliani, now transformed into a museum run by his grandson, Otia Otosa Loseliani.

Otias Ezo - wine, beer and brandy
Otias Ezo – wine, beer and brandy

The museum offers a unique glimpse into local history, making your visit not just a tasting, but a deeply personal family experience. Otias Ezo is a perfect blend of authentic Georgian culture, interesting history, and genuine hospitality, ideal for anyone looking to enhance their travel experience to Tskaltubo.

Tskaltubo, Georgia’s timeless spa town, is a treasure trove of history, healing, and hospitality. With its rich Soviet heritage, therapeutic thermal springs, and architectural splendor, it offers an experience that’s truly one of a kind. So whether you’re seeking wellness, exploring history, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Tskaltubo promises a journey that’s as enriching as it is memorable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the famous sanatoriums in Tskaltubo?

Some of the famous sanatoriums in Tskaltubo are Sanatorium Iveria, Sanatorium Metallurgist, Sanatorium Medea, and Bathhouse No. 8, as well as Sanatorium Sakartvelo in the central park area.

What amenities do the hotels in Tskaltubo offer?

The hotels in Tskaltubo offer amenities such as air conditioning, televisions, minibars, en-suite bathrooms, complimentary WiFi, hot tubs, spas, saunas, fitness centers, and outdoor pools for a comfortable and enjoyable stay.

How can I reach Tskaltubo from Kutaisi?

You can reach Tskaltubo from Kutaisi by taking a marshrutka, a local minibus service. It’s a convenient and affordable way to travel. Or hire a guide/driver with Gotrip for a private experience.

What is included in a guided tour of Tskaltubo?

A guided tour of Tskaltubo usually includes visits to Sanatorium Medea, Bath N 6 or Stalin’s Bath, Sanatorium Metalurg, Sanatorium Shakhter, and Sanatorium Imereti, offering a comprehensive experience of the area’s attractions.

What additional sites can I visit near Tskaltubo?

You can visit Prometheus Cave, a popular site just 15 minutes from Tskaltubo. It’s definitely worth checking out during your trip!

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