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Daily Mail: 'Riviera of Stalin's Soviet Union': Incredible crumbling spas and sanatoriums in Tskaltubo now inhabited by thousands of war refugees
The spa resort of Tskaltubo in Georgia - once known as the Riviera of the Soviet Union - is a unique place. Around 9,000 ethnic Georgian refugees from the 1992-3 conflict in Abkhazia are housed here, in several of the town's state-owned sanatoriums. Radio Free Europe photographer Amos Chapple visited for three days in the end of January. His photos of the crumbling grandeur are a stark contrast with the poverty of the war refugees who have taken up residence.
Mr Chappel told MailOnline Travel that the town contains a mixture of working spas and sanatoriums in various states of decay. He said: 'In the fully abandoned sanatoriums it's a very sad atmosphere. Georgia was hit harder than most of the republics in the wake of the Soviet collapse, so it's an illustration of a country that's really yet to find its feet economically.' Pictured here: an abandoned theater in one of Tskaltubo’s Stalin-era sanatoriums.
Madonna Mushkudiani (pictured with her granddaughter) has lived in a Tskaltubo sanatorium since fleeing Abkhazia in the 1990s. 'In the occupied sanatoriums the inside of people's apartments - I saw inside two - were very cozy. When you step inside there are TVs on, cozy furniture, everything you'd see in a middle-class apartment in the capital,' Chappel explained.
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Mr Chapple explained that two of the spas in the town are still working and in 'beautiful condition' and that he 'took a stinking, hot mud bath in one of them'. He added that he spent two nights in one of the Soviet-era hotels, but said it's 'a lonely-feeling place, especially in winter'.
The crumbling Hotel Sakartvelo is partly occupied by refugee families, according to Mr Chapple.
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