Gonio fortress, previously called Apsaros, or Apsarunto, is a Roman fortification in Adjara, Georgia, on the Black Sea, 15 km south of Batumi, at the mouth of the Chorokhi river. The village sits 4 km north of the Turkish border.

Gonio has been on my radar since I probably first visited Batumi back in the Summer of 2011, but for the first time, I visited this ancient Roman site at the end of April 2019, while doing an easy weekend trip around the region of Adjara.

The entrance fee was 3 GEL (April 2019)

Fortification walls at Gonio Fortress

Fortification walls at Gonio Fortress

For those of you interested in history:

The oldest reference to the fortress is by Pliny the Elder[ in the Natural History (1st century AD). There is also a reference to the ancient name of the site in Appian’s Mithridatic Wars (2nd century AD). In the 2nd century AD it was a well-fortified Roman city within Colchis. The town was also known for its theatre and hippodrome. It later came under Byzantine influence. The name "Gonio" is first attested in Michael Panaretos in the 14th century. In addition, there was a short-lived Genoese trade factory at the site. In 1547 Gonio was taken by the Ottomans, who held it until 1878, when, via the San-Stefano Treaty, Adjara became part of the Russian empire. In the fall of 1647, according to Evliya Çelebi, Gonio was captured by a Cossack navy of 70 chaikas, but quickly recovered by Ghazi Sidi Ahmed, ruler of the Tortum sanjak, with a force of 1,000 Turks and 3,000 "Mingrelians".

Inside the Gonio fortress

Inside the Gonio fortress

The grave of Saint Matthias, one of the twelve apostles, is believed to be inside the Gonio fortress. However, this is unverifiable as the Georgian government currently prohibits digging near the supposed gravesite. Other archaeological excavations are however taking place on the grounds of the fortress, focusing on Roman layers.

Gonio fortress

Gonio fortress

Gonio is currently experiencing a tourism boom. Most tourists come from Tbilisi in the summer months to enjoy beaches that are generally regarded as cleaner than Batumi's beaches (located 15 km to the north).

Free parking in front of the main entrance gates of Gonio fortress

Free parking in front of the main entrance gates of Gonio fortress