Chiatura

A captivating town in Georgia. A place where time stopped 60 years ago. Since the 1950s, a system of cable cars has been operating here, possibly the only one of its kind in the world. Their technical condition raises many concerns, and riding them is definitely an adrenaline-filled attraction. I had the opportunity to ride several of these cable cars, perhaps even the oldest one, remembering the Stalinist heyday. Since their creation in the 1950s, they have certainly not been modernized. Those that have been completely destroyed by time and rust have simply been closed. The rest, which have not succumbed to corrosion, still serve the people—currently, there are reportedly about 16 in operation.

The outdated cable car system continues to function, serving the residents and workers of the manganese ore mines to move between different parts of the town. The town is situated in a valley with fairly steep slopes where the mines were located. As the town began to expand, more and more buildings were constructed on the slopes. Therefore, the Soviet authorities devised such a communication system in this place to enable faster movement.

Ciatura, Kindergarden
Ciatura, Kindergarden

I would gladly return to this strange place for a longer stay to get to know it better. To see how people really live there. A city from another era. A relic of the past. Abandoned blocks of flats, and some parts look as if they were never inhabited. My impressions from my stay in Chiatura reminded me of encountering a ghost town in Ukraine – the city of Pripyat.

As Agnieszka and I wandered through this strange place, we stumbled upon an overgrown playground. I saw rusty swings, a carousel, a few climbing devices, and what looked like an abandoned building. I called out to Agnieszka that there were swings here, and she said she felt like swinging! Of course, so did I. We entered the fenced area with the rusty fence, and I started taking pictures of the building, the decayed fire safety sign on it. Suddenly, a woman emerged from the building and asked me what I was doing there? Very surprised to meet someone there, I replied that I was taking pictures. I asked her what she was doing there, to which she replied that it was a kindergarten. Very surprised, I asked:

  • are there any children here?
  • Of course – she replied
  • Can we come in?
  • Please! Together with Agnieszka, we accepted the invitation. We were very surprised that over 20 children are being taught in this strange place. Beautiful black eyes, dark skin, black hair. All playful, joyful, but also obedient to their teachers. We were treated to strong, black Georgian coffee with sugar. We could take photos, record videos, and play with the children. An incredible thing. In our country, this would hardly be possible. Besides, you would have to fill out a lot of paperwork, get parental consent, and sign everything in sight, and there would probably be a big problem with publishing the recorded materials. I liked that Georgian children, untouched by advertising, living in such a reality, are delighted with a paper airplane. They don’t need Barbie or Lego because they don’t know them. The teacher showed me the best game for children in kindergarten. It was a cardboard theater from the fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood.” The teacher said the kids love this game. It reminds me a lot of my childhood, although my generation already knew Lego blocks. As the meeting came to an end, Agnieszka and I went outside with the teachers. There was a garden in a concrete planter. Herbs planted by the children. I tasted a few leaves that tasted like radishes. And I saw something that resembled a mini-pool. And indeed, it was a pool, even open in the summer. The teacher informed me that when it’s warm, they pour water into it, and the children splash around in it. I must admit that this information shocked me very much. Because the pool looked like an abandoned one in Pripyat. Falling tiles, chipped concrete… and the children splash around in it.

Our pleasant meeting came to an end, and Agnieszka and I set off on our journey. And if this place has piqued your interest, come and touch Chiatura, see it with your own eyes!

Ciatura, Kindergarden
Ciatura, Kindergarden
Ciatura, Kindergarden
Ciatura, Kindergarden
Chiatura, Cableway
Chiatura, Cableway

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