Abkhazia’s ‘Seagull Hotel’

The castle at Gagra, Abkhazia, was completed in 1902 – it belonged to the Prince of Oldenburg, built to an Art Nouveau design by the architect I. K. Luteranska. Originally the castle was roofed in red tiles, its towers just visible over the tree line above Gagra: then, one of the premiere beach destinations along the Black Sea riviera.

Later, the Soviets would nationalise the castle, transforming it into the ‘Seagull Hotel.’ The building enjoyed a brief heyday as a hotel, but after the Soviet period ended the former castle would go the same way as so many other buildings caught in the crossfire of the (1992-93) Georgia-Abkhazia War.

Today this opulent castle-turned-hotel is little more than an empty shell, a cluster of skeletal turrets and mossy balconies that rise, almost forgotten, behind the beaches of a war-torn breakaway republic.