Tbilisi, Batumi, and Borjomi with its developed infrastructure and fame are beautiful places, but if you want to see the most unusual and off the beaten road place in Georgia, you must go to Chiatura. Chiatura is a little, remoted, industrial town located 220 km away from Tbilis that used to prosper in Soviet times. Before becoming manganese center of Georgia, it was a small settlement. In 1879, mining of manganese started; in 1895, railway was constructed for export of raw material. The town started developing, its population grew up to 6,000 people, share of Georgia in world export of manganese was 50%.
More than half of world steel was produced with Georgian manganese. In 1989, the mining town had population of 30,000 people, but with a collapse of Soviet Union mining industry experienced rapid decline and people started leaving Chiatura. Although, this mining town is one of the most unusual and interesting destination in Georgia, it’s not popular among tourists at all.
Today mining town turned into ghost-town with dozens of cable cars from fifties. The main sight of the town are manganese mines, which are spread throughout the town. Any tourist can observe process of mining. Chiatura cable cars are distributed around mines, they used to take workers from their apartment buildings to mines. These cable cars are the only ones in the world that are used as public transport.
Unfortunately, because this mean of public transport has been functioning for 60 years, there were some incidents with lethal outcomes. Chiatura is the least tourist place in Georgia, but that’s what makes it so unlike any other destination in Georgia. If you want to see unique Chiatura cable cars, immerse in atmosphere of Soviet ghost-town with its abandoned houses and feel of lifelessness, you have to visit Chiatura.