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Akarmara – The Mining Town Reclaimed by Nature in Only 20 Years

Trees and vegetation have invaded houses and streets. Welcome to Akarmara, the former Soviet city of Abkhazia, a Caucasian territory claimed by Georgia. Actually it is an independent region - and in recent years it has become a forest. It was once a mining town, but in the 1970s, due to war and economic change, people started to leave the city. As a result, nature once again took control of what belonged to it and invaded the town, which today has only 35 inhabitants.

Akarmara

Trees and vegetation have invaded houses and streets. Welcome to Akarmara, the former Soviet city of Abkhazia, a Caucasian territory claimed by Georgia. Actually it is an independent region – and in recent years it has become a forest.

How Nature Reclaims What Man Has Built

Akarmara is located in Abkhazia in Eastern Europe. It was once a mining town with complex Soviet architecture. In the 1970s, however, due to war and economic change, people started to leave the city. As a result, nature once again took control of what belonged to it and invaded the town, which today has only 35 inhabitants.

However, the locals who still remain do not seem to care.

“If this is a ghost town, then we are zombies,” says Igor Kishmaria, a resident.

Life is slow here and time seems to have stopped. The cows graze on the abandoned railway in front of the abandoned factory. In the streets there are only mosses and hydrangeas. The windows and the roof are a blaze of nature. The few remaining children play happily in the streets. Many housing estates that once had 4 and 5 floors are now inhabited by one or two families. The large Soviet facades and wide streets of the city are slowly disintegrating. In fact, time and bad weather consume everything.

However, this almost ghostly landscape also attracts many tourists. In recent years, in fact, Abkhazia has become the target of international photographers and artists in search of “disappeared civilizations” scenarios. There are those who would like to make the city a resort that celebrates the old Soviet forgotten splendours. To do this, however, it takes too much money that Abkhazia, being an unrecognized republic, will probably never have.

The Story of Akarmara

Once in Akarmara lived several thousand people. However, with the indefensibility of the coal industry in the Perestrojka era, together with the end of the USSR shortly afterwards, the numbers decreased dramatically. This also led to the closure of the mines.

In the early 1990s, the siege of Tkvarcheli meant the effective exclusion of Akarmara from the rest of Abkhazia. There was in fact only one main road in and out that cut directly through Tkvarcheli and lead to the city. The siege of Tkvarcheli remains the greatest war trauma for many Abkhazians. Due to this, for 413 days the city was cut off. As a consequence, it could only count on supplies brought by helicopter by Russian and separatist forces.

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