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Anakopia Fortress

Anakopia Fortress is an archeological monument of Abkhazia and one of the world’s cultural heritage sites. The ancient structure was partially destroyed during the Middle Ages, but its ruins can still be seen on the hill above the city. To touch the history and visit the attraction, you have to overcome a steep climb. The route is not easy, but the impressive panorama and the opportunity to take great pictures make up for the effort.

General information about Anakopia Fortress in Abkhazia

The Byzantines erected a defensive structure to defend themselves against invaders. The architects thought of every detail – at the time the fortress was built, it provided 100% security to all who were hiding behind the walls.

Anakopia Fortress

Description of the landmark and what it used to look like

The structure occupies more than 70 thousand square meters. The thick, massive walls are ring-shaped, and two lines of defense are provided. On the side of the gentle slope of the mountain the fortress was fortified with seven towers. One of them – Collar – has partially survived to this day.

The construction was completed gradually until the 7th century. It could only be accessed by extension ladders – the gate was elevated 3 m above the road. White stone and brick were used as the material.

The east tower was to serve as a command post and could shelter all the citadel defenders who survived. From the east side there is a majestic view of the sea coast, where you can admire the coast from a bird’s-eye view. And also on the territory of the fortress remained the temple buildings.

Now the fortress resembles a fairy-tale town – you can see the remains of a steep wall, reinforced by several towers with loopholes, and the church building.

A view of the Anakopia fortress from above

Where is Anakopia and its altitude

Anakopia is located in New Athos, on Mount Iversky. It rises 345 meters above sea level.

History of the Anakopia Fortress in New Athos

The year of the citadel is not established. According to archaeologists, construction began in the II century, the buildings were erected until the end of the VII century. It reflects both the landscape of the area and the multi-level nature of the buildings. The Romans referred to the fortification as a “stony citadel,” which sounds like “Trachea Anacopia.

The first stones – powerful limestone boulders – were laid by the Romans. At the same time, a gate made of monoliths cut out of rock, which was placed above the ground, was installed. From the inside, you can climb the stone steps – their remains are also still preserved.

The first major battle took place in 736-737. The Arab Caliph and commander Marwan II with 60 thousand soldiers besieged the fortress, where the Georgian kings Mir and Archil were sheltered. There were only 3,000 defenders, Abkhaz-Georgian soldiers, and they were able to repulse the attack. The next conqueror, Suleiman ibn Isam, was also defeated.

In the VII century Byzantine monks built the first temple on the mountain and dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the eleventh century it was rebuilt and consecrated. The second church was erected in the seventh and eighth centuries.

The heyday of the fortress can be called the XVIII-XIX century. The monks of New Athos ennobled the territory, built observation towers, paved the road – it has survived to this day. This place welcomed tourists from all over the world – they were eager to touch the history and breathe the clean mountain air.

Legends and interesting facts about the Anakopia Fortress

If you believe folk tales, in the center of the complex with defensive and temple buildings there is a spring with life-giving water, returning health to the sick and even resurrecting the dead. It never runs dry, even in dry years.

Another legend says that the defenders of the citadel are under the patronage of the Iberian Mother of God herself, who sends pestilence on the invaders. Indeed, half of the army of the first invader, Marwan II, died of an intestinal infection within the first days of the siege.

Interesting facts about Anakopia:

  1. The Arabs were attracted to the area because it was the route of the famous Silk Road.
  2. It takes 50 minutes to walk from the foot of Iversky mountain to the fortress.
  3. The date of the last discovery was in the 1960s. The New Athos Cave was discovered in the mountains.
  4. The mountain offers impressive views of Sukhum and Cape Pitsunda.
  5. Beneath Trachea is heaven.

What tourists can see in Anakopia Fortress

People come to Abkhazia to rest, sunbathe, swim, taste delicious homemade wine and cheese. On the way to the sea and back travelers see the fortress on top of the mountain, and once up to it, be sure to get acquainted with all the surviving structures.

The Gate Tower and the East Tower of the Anakopia Fortress


There were seven towers in all. But two of them are better preserved than the others – the Gateway and the Eastern.

The gatehouse is round, with an arched entrance and loopholes. Thanks to the special shape, the defenders had an almost all-round view of the terrain.

The gatehouse is 4-cornered and used to be 16 m high. It also had windows and loopholes.

You can guess that once in the fortress there were 5 more towers, you can tell by the bulge in the walls, located from each other at a distance of 30-60 m.

Church of St. Theodore of Tyrone

This temple is said to be the church in the sky. The structure belongs to the ancient Christian buildings. The walls are lined with limestone and sea pebbles, and the window openings are brick. The last reconstruction took place in the late XIX – early XX centuries, then closed the niches with the burial of monks, reinforced bearing walls. Only part of the altar was not changed. Pilgrims flock to the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is kept in the temple – it is considered miraculous.

Church of St. Theodore of Tyrone

A magical, inexhaustible well on the mountain

Scientists are still arguing about where the water in the spring comes from. It has not yet been possible to fully explore the well, which is 4 m deep and 3.5 wide. The monks explain it by a miracle and say that life-giving water comes from the bowels of Iversky mountain, but there is another opinion that it enters the well thanks to an intricate system of pipes, laid in ancient times, on the principle of communicating vessels. But exactly where the source is located is unknown.

The Inexhaustible Well

New Athos from the observation deck

The citadel stands on top of a mountain, and from there you have a view of Sukhum, Pitsunda and the sea. From the observation deck you can even see the peaks of the Caucasus Mountains, covered with snow.

Ways to get to Anakopia Fortress

Abkhazia is located in a subtropical climate zone. All summer warm sunny weather, rains rarely. Therefore, you can plan a tour in advance.

It is easy to get to the fortress by car or on foot.

By yourself by car

If you decide to choose your own car, you will not have to expect any difficulties in the trip. You have to drive on a modern autobahn. However, you must go up to the citadel on foot, leaving the vehicle on the guarded area. The cost of parking – 100-150 rubles.

The route is as follows:

  • New Athos Park;
  • Passage along the street Khazaria to the turn to the lane Ladaria;
  • Changba Street;
  • Checkpoint of the observation deck.

And then the hikers walk along the trail for hikers. Local residents, to get to the top of Iversky Mount, pass straight through. But those who are not familiar with the area, do not risk – you can get lost.

By bus

To use this mode of transportation, you must sign up for a tour. The ticket price is 150-200 rubles. But if there are empty seats on the bus, you can always negotiate for a ride. But there’s a good chance you’ll have to go back standing up. If you go on your own, the main reference point is the stop “Rakushka.


You also have to pay for your own lift. Tickets are sold at the ticket office, at the foot of the mountain. The address of the beginning of the route is the Athos Cave. This is where the sightseeing begins.

Walking to the fortress

Then you will have to walk along Changa Street, to the parking lot, visit the observation deck, and then together with the tourists who left their cars, move to Anakopia Fortress on a not very steep serpentine. The asphalt road ends after 0.5 km, and begins sidewalk, laid out with large cobblestones. At the edges of the road there are logs fencing off the cliff. Iver Mountain is steep. The dangers are indicated by signs urging caution.

The same warnings are posted all over the territory of the fortress. The structure is collapsing, and even the guides may not be aware of the appearance of a new failure.

New Athos Fortress opening hours and entrance fees

New Athos is in a protected area, and there are no days off when the area is cleaned or tourist routes are changed. Visiting the archaeological site daily – the ticket office and the parking lot are open from 07:00-21:00. The cost of the ticket is 200 rubles.

Popular tours with a visit to Anakopia Fortress in the Republic of Abkhazia

Excursions are formed in Gagra, Sochi, Adler. Reservations can be made during your vacation or online. The most popular ones are tripster and sputnik8.

When ordering, be sure to write the address of the place where the ancient citadel is located: Abkhazia, New Athos, Anakopia Mountain.

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