Lighthouses of Abkhazia

Abkhazia is an autonomous republic on the northeastern coast of the Black Sea. The country has a complicated history and an uncertain status. The Abkhaz people resisted incorporation into the Russian Empire, which did not subdue the region until the 1840s. Under the Soviet Union, Abkhazia was recognized as an autonomous republic, initially under direct control from Moscow. In 1931, Stalin attached Abkhazia to the Soviet Republic of Georgia, but again as an autonomous republic. After Georgia regained its independence in 1991, Abkhazia revolted against Georgian rule. A bitter struggle in 1992-93 led to Abkhazia becoming a de facto independent state, guarded by Russian peacekeeping troops. The independence of Abkhazia from Georgia is not recognized internationally.

The capital, Sukhumi, is also the country's major port. Presumably, aids to navigation in Abkhazia are supposed to be maintained by the Port Authority of Sukhumi.

Special thanks to Radek Literski, who toured the Abkhazian coast in 2014 searching for the listed lights. His online report is an invaluable guide.

The Abkhaz language is written in a modified Cyrillic alphabet. The Abkhaz word for a lighthouse is caymzarkyra (цәымзаркыра).

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volume E of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 113.

General Sources
Lighthouses in Georgia
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia (includes Abkhazia).
World of Lighthouses - Abkhazia
Photos by various photographers available from
Latarnie Abchazji
Photos taken in 2014 by Radek Literski. Text in Polish.
Russische Leuchttürme auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse; Abkhazian lighthouses are in the Georgian section near the bottom of the page.

Sukhumi Light
Sukhumi Light, August 2008
Wikimedia Creative Commons photo by Игорь C (Igor S.)

Mys Kodori (2?)
Date unknown (station established 1899). Probably inactive; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); red flash every 5 s. Square skeletal tower carrying a rectangular daymark painted white with a black vertical stripe. No photo available, the tower has not been found in Bing's satellite view of the listed location, and Literski was blocked from reaching this area. Located on a headland near Gulripsh, about 20 km (13 mi) southeast of Sukhumi. Site closed. Admiralty N5734; NGA 19228.
* Sukhumi Passenger Pier (Middle Pier) Range Front (2?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); continuous green light. Post light and a pentagonal daymark mounted on the roof of a 2-story pierhead building. Roberto Viaggiatore has a 2008 photo, Literski has a closeup photo (3/4 the way down the page), and Bing has a satellite view. Google has a satellite view of the rear light, a mast at the bend in the pier 120 m (395 ft) north of the front light; Literski has a closeup photo (2/3 the way down the page). The building appears to include a restaurant. Located at the end of the middle pier in downtown Sukhumi. Accessible by walking the pier. Site open and building open. Admiralty N5727; NGA 19214.
* Sukhumi (Mys Sukhumskiy)
1864. Reactivated (inactive 2000-2008); focal plane 37 m (121 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off, 3 s on, 6 s off. 34 m (111 ft) round cast iron tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. The modern light is mounted on the front of the historic lantern. A photo is at the top of this page, Literski has several photos (halfway down the page), a good closeup is available, there's a distant view of the lighthouse on the cape, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a satellite view. This lighthouse was prefabricated in France by the firm of Ernest Couin. The Russian article says the lighthouse has resumed operation, apparently with a small light mounted in front of the historic lantern. A page posted by the local tourist agency says that the original Fresnel lens was seized by Turkish troops in 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War; a replacement lens was mounted after the war. Located on the point of Mys (Cape) Sukhumi, about 4 km (2.4 mi) southwest of the center of the city. Literski had difficulty finding the lighthouse, so local guidance may be needed. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GEO-003; Admiralty N5726; NGA 19212.
Date unknown. Probably inactive; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white light, 2 s on, 4 s off. Light mounted atop a 27 m (89 ft) building. A photo shows an abandoned a 10-story former sports center that is probably the site of the light, and Bing has a satellite view. Litersky found no evidence of a light here. Eshera is the site of a principal base for the Russian peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia. Located about 8 km (5 mi) west of Sukhumi. Site status unknown. Admiralty N5725; NGA 19209.
* Psyrtskha (Novy Afon)
Date unknown. Probably inactive; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); white light, 4 s on, 2 s off. Light mounted atop a 22 m (72 ft) building. Litersky has a photo (1/3 the way down the page), and Bing has a satellite view of the location of the light. Novy Afon (New Athos) is a historic Orthodox monastery, now a branch of the Abkhazian state museum. Located near the Akhali Atoni beach in Psyrtskha, about 22 km (14 mi) west of Sukhumi. Site status unknown, probably open. Admiralty N5724.5; NGA 19206.
* Souksu (Bambora, Gudauta)
Date unknown (station established 1886). Probably inactive; focal plane 38 m (125 ft); white flash every 3 s. Lantern mounted atop a 35 m (115 ft) building. No photo available, but Bing's satellite view shows tall buildings at the listed location. Litersky was not able to locate this light, if it exists. The light marks Mys (Cape) Souksu, about 3 km (2 mi) west of Gudauta, near a military airfield. Site status unknown. Admiralty N5721; NGA 19200.
* Pitsunda (2)
1902 (station established 1891). Inactive. 31 m (101 ft) square pyramidal cast iron skeletal tower with lantern, gallery, and central cylinder. Entire lighthouse painted white. Pitsunda, in western Abkhazia, has become a very popular beach resort, and Eugene Pertsev's photo at right shows how the lighthouse is now dwarfed by two high-rise hotels. A closeup is available, Vyacheslav Argenberg's photo is below right, another photo taken from the 15th floor of one of the hotels shows heavy rust on the lantern, Huelse has a historic postcard view, and Google has a fuzzy satellite view. Located on the point of Mys (Cape) Pitsunda. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS GEO-002.
Pitsunda Light
Pitsunda Light, April 2008
Panoramio Creative Common photo by Eugene Pertsev
* Pitsunda (3)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 50 m (164 ft); two white flashes every 10.2 s. Octagonal lantern mounted at the south end of a 15-story building; a clamshell Fresnel lens is in use. Vyacheslav Argenberg's photo is at right, another photo and a third photo show both Pitsunda lighthouses, and has a closeup of the lantern. Located on the west side of the historic lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty N5718; NGA 19192.
* Gagrinskiy
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 87 m (285 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 21 m (69 ft) building topped by a square lantern room. Litersky has a distant view (first photo on the page), another photo is available, and Bing has a satellite view. The building appears to be a resort hotel; Gagra has been a resort town since the 1880s. Located about 25 km (15 mi) east of the Russian border. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty N5706; NGA 19172.
#Gyachripsh (Leselidze)
Date unknown. Apparently demolished. 24 m (79 ft) "lantern on white chimney with ladder and platform," according to NGA; the Admiralty describes the light as being on a "white metal pole with external staircase." Litersky was told that the light does not exist any more, and a hotel has been built on its former location. Gyachripsh is a resort town just east of the Russian border. The town was renamed Leselidze in 1944 in honor of a Soviet general; it resumed its historic name in 1992. Site status unknown. Admiralty N5700; NGA 19168.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Pitsunda Lights
New (left) and old Pitsunda Lights, 2004
Flickr Creative Common photo by Vyacheslav Argenberg

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: East: Georgia | West: Russia Eastern Black Sea

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Posted May 2, 2008. Checked and revised June 24, 2016. Lighthouses: 10. Site copyright 2016 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.