Gonio Apsaros Museum-Reserve
Gonio-Kvariati Area, 55, Apsaros St (Batumi Municipality)
Apsaros was the largest Roman Fort on the east coast of the Black Sea in the first century AD. It was one of the principal forts of the developed Pontic Limes, defender of the Caucasian border. Roman and Byzantine authors related the history and name of the city situated in the estuary of the River Chorokhi and the Black Sea with the myth of the Argonauts. It was believed that Medea’s brother Apsyrtus was killed and buried there. It was Apsyrtus’ tomb that was the main shrine of once a busy city. According to the Georgian tradition, which is based on Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos’ Historia Ecclesiastica (14th century), the Apostle Matthias was crucified in Apsaros and is buried in the fortress.
Built of neatly-hewn blocks of stone, the fortress has survived almost intact. The massive surrounding wall of square shape now reaching 5 meters in height (measurements: 245x195m) covers the area of 4.78 hectares. It used to have 22 projecting towers and 4 gateways. The main gateway was situated on the west side facing the sea. Inside the wall, structures characteristic of Roman Castellum, such as principia, barracks, baths, cisterns, wells, water pipes and sewage systems have been discovered.
Apsaros retained importance until the Middle Ages, and is called Gonio since the 12th century. The fort has experienced several stages of construction and repair. Construction layers date from the time of Emperor Justinian (most towers) and Ottoman domination (battlements and walkways, a mosque inside the fortress area, a hammam etc.). Numerous artifacts discovered during the excavations on the territory and environs of the fort are on the display on-site, in the exhibition hall, and in the Batumi Archaeological Museum Treasury