Batumi today is a low-rise, palm-tree lined, provincial capital on the Black Sea. It first attracted international attention in the late 19th century as the railway terminus of a line that carried one-fifth of the world’s oil production, over time developing into a fashionable Russian resort town. Nearby is Kutaisi, first famous as home to the Bagrati Cathedral, a masterpiece of medieval Georgian architecture; and the 12th century Gelati Monastery, set amidst woods and fields of green, and home to many fine mosaics and frescoes. Kutaisi today is also the brand new capital of Georgia, its parliament building inaugurated only in May 2012.
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