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The history of the hotel

Sukhum has a stunningly beautiful building which acts as a decoration of the quay and the city. This is the hotel “Ritsa” which also had a name “San Remo” in the past. Why did the authors choose this name? Architecture of the Côte d'Azur, with its striking features of French and Italian culture was perfectly suited as an object of imitation at building Sukhum in the early 20th century. Many objects of Nice, Monaco, San Remo, which are very similar to the building of the hotel “Ritsa”, are the evidence of the fact.

Sukhum with its rich subtropical nature, lush greenery, rich shades of the sea became the perfect background for the white building, elegantly towering its facade towards the sea. The beautiful dome crowns the angular part of the building, the walls are decorated with patterned reliefs. Being built in 1914, the hotel building has been one of the symbols of Sukhum for more than a century.

The construction of the hotel is associated with the name of the Greek Christopher Spanakis (in Russian the name Christopher Spanaki is more common). Spanakis was a merchant of the second guild, timber merchant and he decided to invest in the architectural structure. Construction ended simultaneously with the beginning of the First World War. It was 1914 that is associated with the emergence of another beautiful building, which now houses the City Administration of Sukhum. For some time, the object was used for the City Council and appeared thanks to another Greek - S. Stefanidi. If not for the war, the construction might be continued, and Sukhumi would be even more beautiful than it is now.defaul3t

The built hotel “San Remo” offered accommodation for guests in 25 rooms, bathrooms, and the ground floor housed the best restaurant of that time “Exchange”. In connection with the changes brought by wartime, many Greeks, and people of other nations, the rich stratum of the population left Sukhum.

The family of the Greek Christopher Samuridi also left having sold all their property in 1915. Several significant buildings in Sukhum are associated with this name. Samuridi built a mansion with a dome, which has long served as the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia, the theater with his name, which is better known as a cinema “Apsny” in the Lenin Street, the bank building in the Lakoba Street, which offers a wonderful view of Sukhumi, and some other objects.

The wave of emigration also seized the family of Spanakis. They had to sell their greatest treasure the hotel “San Remo” to a Greek named Theodoros Baltadzhis. He was a well-known contractor in the region, under his management many facilities in Kutaisi, Tiflis (Tbilisi later), Armavir were built. Theodoros Baltadzhis participated in the construction of the railway road Tuapse-Batum. Its construction started parallel to the beginning the First World War, and was completed only a few decades later.

Baltadzhis managed to earn much money on the construction, for it cost nothing to buy such a large object, as the hotel “San Remo”, plus to this acquisition of the ownership of a successful businessman included two villas in Gagra and Yalta. The scale and importance of the hotel “San Remo” can be judged from the fact that it carried out the most important events of the Greek society Sukhumi, and various talks and debates on big politics in the country and beyond.

In 1917, after the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia, there was a redistribution of property in Georgia. The Menshevik government of Georgia decided to dispose of large farmland and nationalize the industry. In this case a number of objects from the category of a small private property were not affected.

Global changes started after February 1921. That's when the Soviet power was forcibly proclaimed in Georgia, and in spring, March 4, the government nationalized all more or less large property and bank deposits were forfeited in favor of the state.

As a result of such measures Theodoros Baltadzhis lost all his real property, as well as 200,000 gold rubles stored in the banks. A building contractor never saw a lot of money already spent for the construction works. Baltadzhis did not want to live in the country that ordered his personal property, so he decided to move to Greece.

All the objects confiscated from the wealthy strata of Sukhumi community, were robbed by the Bolsheviks. Cafés and restaurants of the city, hotels, interiors of which included valuable items, as well as belongings of their owners were fleeced. The hotel “San Remo” also could not escape such fate, because there were valuable items belonging to the former owners.

Very soon the walls of the building began to welcome guests. The hotel continued to be used for its intended purpose. Those who walked along the sea, admired beautiful scenery, listening to the sound of the surf, enjoying the aroma of coffee in the nearby coffee shops, did not think about the former owners of the beautiful building, and those who made the hotel appear.

Now the hotel for different sorts of travelers adorned on the seafront promenade, and in one of the premises with the entrance at the corner of the building, there was a service “Helping your child”. Thousands of people including many world famous persons has stayed in the hotel rooms since that time. The hotel building has gradually become more and more important in the modern history of Sukhum inspiring creativity to the cultural bohemians.

The death of the leader of the world proletariat in 1924 sparked a fiery speech by Leon Trotsky. Visiting Sukhumi, he pronounced the words of the death of Lenin from the balcony of the hotel “San Remo” facing the quay. The poet Marietta Shahinian stayed at the hotel in 1930.

The history of Sukhum is closely connected with the history of Russia. When cruel orders dominated in the country the Abkhaz leader Nestor Lakob was killed. It happened at the turn of 1936-1937, after this event the particularly difficult time started in the history of the republic. The hotel “San Remo” had to change its name. In 1938 the hotel was renamed to the “Ritsa” and the pates with this word replaced the plates with the former name. But some sources say that the hotel on the quay of Sukhum has been called the “Ritsa” since 1929. The new communist government tried to get rid of everything bourgeois, the old name brought back unwanted memories of the past of the hotel.

In the period of the Soviet regime in Abkhazia the hotel worked without major repairs for a long time. When the building was seven decades old, they decided to reconstruct it. The structure could no longer remain in its present condition, as many hardwood floors had rotted for such a long history in the seaside climate, besides the building was inhabited by such satellites of decline as mice and rats.

In the year of its 70th anniversary the hotel was opened after reconstruction. But now the appearance of the building was changed: the wonderful balcony-veranda, elegantly supported at the frame-feet from the embankment was demolished. The balcony was overgrown with exotic plants, which is typical of the Mediterranean countries. Now the building was deprived of such a bright and colorful feature. Nor was the entrance to the restaurant from the corner of the building, along with its certain excitement, always prevailed inside the building was now missing. The windows of the hotel also were changed. Original frames were made in the style close to modern, and after refurbishment, the building began to look at the world trough modern metal frames without any decorative elements.

defaulxftAfter the reconstruction there was not the grille at the bottom of the roof (from the side of the sea), and the overall color of the building was changed from a single white to gray-white. In the post-Soviet era the hotel “Ritsa” was nearly forgotten. In autumn 1992, drunken Georgian soldiers set fire to the hotel, it was completely destroyed: the dome was collapsed, leaving only the walls.

The restoration work in the hotel started in 2001. 15 years after the destruction, in 2007, the hotel “Ritsa” was re-opened to the public. The rebirth of the hotel was due to the Abkhaz businessman Beslan Butba and the firm “Chegem-2000”.

We also plan to build a spa salon, a swimming pool and a meeting room. The hotel “Ritsa” as a monument of architecture of the city has another mysterious and romantic feature - it connects the current residents of the city with people of a bygone era, who lived 100 years ago. After all, in 2014 the hotel is 100 years old.

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