Lykhny village in Abkhazia, Gudautsky district: in details

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Likhny is the largest village of Abkhazia, which has more than 1500 years of history and in the past was the capital of the Principality of Abkhazia.

Likhny is a rural settlement in the Gudauta district of the Republic of Abkhazia. If we stick to the point of view of the territorial integrity of Georgia, Lõhny belongs to the Gudauta municipality of the Autonomous Abkhazian Republic within Georgia. Regardless of one’s political views, we can say that Lykhny is located in the closest suburb of Gudauta. The distance between the two settlements is not more than 5 km.

Most of the village lies in the flat foothill area, but a part of Lõhny village Bambora comes out to the Black Sea coast.

Weather and Climate

The climate of Likhny does not differ practically from the coastal regions of Abkhazia. It is humid and hot subtropical climate with a lot of precipitations, hot summer and mild winter. It is a little cooler in Lyhny than in Sukhumi and Gagra. The coldest month of the year is January with an average temperature of +9 ° C, the hottest month is July, when the average temperature reaches +28 ° C. There are almost never strong winds, only a few windy days in spring. Precipitation is evenly distributed among all months of the year.

Snow falls occasionally during the winter months, but the snow cover is never established.

Population of Lyhny

The population of the rural settlement of Lyhny according to the census of 2011 is 5,760 people. This is the largest rural settlement in Abkhazia. However, it should be understood that besides the village of Likhny, several other settlements such as Algit, Mzahua, Bambora and others, a total of 9 villages are subordinated to the rural administration. The population of the village of Likhny without subordinate settlements does not exceed 500 people.

The vast majority of residents of the village are Abkhazians (93% or 5,345 people). Other relatively large diasporas in Likhny are:

  • Russians – 3.4%;
  • Georgians – 1,3 %;
  • Armenians – 1.2%.

It should be understood that the events of the XIX and XX centuries significantly changed the ethnic map of the settlement. In the XIX century, after the Caucasian War Lõhni was abandoned by almost all Abkhazians-Muslims, and after the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict a large part of Georgians, Russians and representatives of other nationalities left the village. After the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict a large part of Georgians, Russians and other nationalities left the village and that’s why Lykhny is now practically a mono-ethnic settlement.

Wine and vineyards

The territory of Abkhazia – the second oldest region of winemaking after the Middle East. However, the peculiarities of the climate of Abkhazia do not allow to grow most of the technical varieties of grapes, used in the wine industry. The exceptions are the red grape variety Isabella and the autochthonous white variety Tsolikauri. The vast majority of Abkhazian wines are made from these varieties.

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One of the centers of cultural viticulture in Abkhazia is the vicinity of the village Lykhny. It is from grapes of Isabella variety grown there that “Lykhny” is made – the most famous brand of Abkhazian wine, which has earned the nickname of “prince of Abkhazian wines”. This semi-sweet or semi-dry wine has been produced since 1962.

A trip to Lyhny rarely goes by without tasting the local wine, made at home or in private wineries. Most of them are also variations made from the Isabella variety with the addition of imported wines. Private wineries often have quite decent samples of wine, which can compete with the factory production. And home-made wine in plastic bottles, which are massively sold on the roads of Abkhazia and Lykhny in particular, is almost always a low-quality product.

Sights of Likhny

Despite its status as a village, Lykhny is an ancient settlement that has existed for at least 1500 years. At one time Lõhni was the capital of the ancient Abkhazian principality, and since the 14th century the princes of the semi-independent Georgian principality returned to Lõhni. It was here that the residence of princes for almost 500 years prior to the annexation of Abkhazia to the Russian Empire. Rich history of Lõhna could not fail to manifest itself in numerous historical monuments of the village.

The main attraction of Likhny is Assumption Cathedral (Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary). The cathedral was built in the X century in the style of cross-domed temples. The architecture of the cathedral is very peculiar and in the whole Transcaucasia there is no other similar temple. It is distinguished by its ascetic appearance – the walls are simply covered with slabs of red limestone without any architectural decorations. Its interior is decorated with impressive frescoes of the XIV century in the Byzantine style. Prince George II Shervashidze (Safar Bey), under whom Abkhazia was incorporated into the Russian Empire, is buried in the Lykhny Dormition Cathedral. The temple is located at the entrance directly to the village Lykhny on the right side of Independence Street. Tourists and pilgrims are free to visit the temple, but it is prohibited to take pictures of the frescoes inside the temple.

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Near the Cathedral of the Assumption are the ruins of the palace of Princes Chachba-Shervashidze. There are different versions about the date of the palace: some claim it was built in the X-XI centuries, but most scientists are inclined to believe that the complex was built no earlier than the XVI century, besides it was originally much smaller. The palace was enlarged in size only in the first half of the XIX century, after Abkhazia was annexed to Russia, and Lykhny was declared the residence of Prince George II Shervashidze. The complex was destroyed in 1866 by Russian authorities as a symbol of separatism after Likhny uprising. Now the palace of Princes Shervashidze is a picturesque ruin located in the same place as the Assumption Cathedral.

Another interesting site located near the Cathedral of the Assumption is the pagan sanctuary of Lykh-nyha (Lykhnashta). The turbulent history of Abkhazia contained many interesting pages. One of them was the rise of paganism in the principality, which for 600 years was Christian. In the XV century Abkhazia was de-Christianized and pagan beliefs from the North Caucasus penetrated here. Simultaneously with this process, the feudal system is replaced by tribal with elements of military democracy. A manifestation of this was the emergence of sanctuaries where Abkhazians gathered for prayers and solutions to important issues. Pagan beliefs are still strong among ethnic Abkhaz to this day, regardless of whether they are Christians, Muslims or formal atheists. The annual Harvest Festival is celebrated at the Lykhnashta shrine, and every autumn a barrel of wine is buried and unearthed during the next festival. Lõhnashta is the family shrine of the Shakryl priestly clan, representatives of other clans are not allowed to pray.

Another place of interest, which can be found near the above mentioned objects, is a small chapel, established in the very beginning of the XXI century. It is dedicated to the Cossack volunteers who took part in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict on the side of the Abkhazians.

Another place of interest of the village Lykhny is the ruins of the church Aylaga-Abiku (Abkhazian for “confusing tower”) located in the subordinate village of Bambora. This church was erected approximately in the VI-VII century, which makes it one of the oldest in Abkhazia. Inside the temple there are even remnants of frescos and jug-voices, which improved the acoustics inside the building. Presumably, the temple was destroyed during the earthquake of 1833 and was not rebuilt.

How to get to Lyhny

Lykhny is located in the nearest suburb of Gudauta, so the tourist must first get to this town. Abkhazia has no air communication with any country in the world, so we can say that the main airport of the country is located in the Russian Adler. From Adler to Gudauta you can get in several ways.

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Buses Adler-Sukhum leave from intercity airport in Adler several times a day. The trip time to Gudauta is 4 hours 25 minutes, of which up to 2 hours can be spent for customs clearance and traffic jams. The fare is 850 rubles.

The second option is to take city buses #125P or #173 from Adler to the Psou checkpoint. After passing the border checkpoint you can get to the bus station Psou on the Abkhazian side. From there buses and marshrutkas run in the direction of Gudauta.

Another option is to take a cab directly to Gudauta or Lyhny. However, such way to get to the right place will cost at least 4000 rubles.

There is an electric train connecting Adler and Sukhum, the capital of Abkhazia, which stops in Gudauta annually during the holiday season. The timetable of the train changes annually; the approximate price is 200 RUB. Customs clearance is carried out in the carriage.

Year-round railway station Adler and Gudauta connected trains Moscow – Sukhum and St. Petersburg – Sukhum. Travel time from Adler is about 5 hours, the approximate cost of the ticket is 700 rubles. If you want, you can also go to Gudauta from the starting station, but then the journey will take at least 1.5 days.

The trip by own car goes along the Black Sea coast and impresses with its landscapes. The distance from the border to Likhny is 65 km, the road runs on the only major highway of Abkhazia – Sukhumi highway. When crossing the border you should take into account that Russian insurance policy is not valid on the territory of Abkhazia, so you will have to buy Abkhazian policy. Also you will have to buy a local medical insurance.

The distance from Gudauta to Likhny is 5 km, which can be covered by bus, shuttle bus or cab. The stop of public transport is located 700 meters to the west from the railway station in Gudauta. It does not take more than 10 minutes to get to the village.

Lykhny is a small village, but by the standards of small Abkhazia it is very important, especially from the historical point of view. Tourists are attracted here first of all by its antiquity and architectural monuments, and in the second place – by local viticultural traditions.

The most famous village of Abkhazia and its attractions – Likhny

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Attractions of Abkhazia

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Lykhni (Likhni) is the most famous village of Abkhazia. This is a real monument of antiquity, which age exceeds a century and a half.

The settlement is a favorite place for tourists visiting Abkhazia. The name is translated as “the castle of Lowes” (princes).

On the territory of the famous settlement there are the following attractions:

  • Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary ;
  • palace of princes Shervashidze ;
  • Pagan sanctuary .


Lykhny has a long and rich history. It is known that it existed in the V century, but the exact age of the village is unknown. Once it was the capital of Abkhazia. Nowadays historical monuments on its territory testify to the interesting past of the village.


The key attraction of this place is the Cathedral of the Assumption. It was built in the X century, as evidenced by the popular then dome cruciform system of building. The architectural features make the church unique: nowadays, it is impossible to find a similar building on the territory of the South Caucasus.

The appearance of the church is rather ascetic – there are no decorations on it, and the walls are lined with ordinary limestone tiles. Inside, the shrine is decorated with ancient frescoes, preserved here since the XIV century. The frescoes belong to the Byzantine style.

Everyone can visit the attraction for free, but it’s prohibited to take pictures of the interior decoration of the church.

The princely palace or its ruins

Photo 1

Not far from the Church of the Assumption is the princely palace Shervashidze, or rather what is left of it. There is no consensus about when the building was erected. One group of historians insists on the dating of the X-XI centuries, another argues that the palace could not have been built before the XVI century. The latter version is followed by the majority of scientists. It is known that previously the building was much smaller.

Nowadays, at the site of the palace near the Cathedral of the Assumption can be seen the colorful ruins, taking visitors back to the Middle Ages.

A pagan sanctuary

The Lykh-nyha sanctuary, one of the seven sanctuaries on the territory of the republic, completes the triptych of ancient Lyhny sights. The place is a pagan religious symbol. The history of Abkhazia contains many noteworthy events. One of them is the adoption of the pagan faith by the principality, which for 6 centuries adhered to Christianity.

Abkhazia abandoned the Christian religion in favor of the pagan religion in the 15th century. The changes are attributed to the influence of the North Caucasus. Along with Christianity goes feudalism, which is replaced by a tribal system with a bias towards military democracy. As evidence of those times, on Abkhazian land there are several pagan sanctuaries where believers came to pray. Also traces of paganism can be found among local residents of various denominations in the form of beliefs and traditions.

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Lykh-nyha is the site of the annual autumn harvest festivals. On this day, it is customary to bury a barrel of wine, which is retrieved a year later for the next festival.

The sanctuary belongs to the family, so it is allowed to pray in it only to the representatives of one family – the priests of Shakril.

How to get there?

Visiting Abkhazia and South Ossetia from the Russian side, you violate Georgian law. Officially, these territories are considered occupied.

During the holiday season, you can get to Gudauta – the city next to which the famous village is located – by train from Adler to Sukhum. The average fare is 200 rubles. Customs inspection is carried out in the train itself.

You can also get to the place by transfer, but the cost of such an option starts at 4000 rubles.

Another way is to use your own transport. The road along the Sukhumi highway along the Black Sea coast will leave a lot of impressions about the local beauty. The distance from the border is 65 kilometers.

Lykhny is just 5 km from Gudauta. You may reach it by public transport – shuttle bus or bus. The bus stop is located just west of the train station. You can also take a cab. But whatever you take, the road will not take more than 10 minutes.

Photo 2

The place is the most important point on the map of winemaking in the republic. This is the place where berries for one of the most famous varieties of local wine – “Lyhny” are grown. which is also called “the prince of Abkhazian wines”. The drink belongs to the red ones and is made in two variants – semi-dry and semi-sweet. The first bottle was released in 1962.

A visit to the village is unlikely to go without a glass of local homemade wine. Like the famous drink of the same name, it is made from Isabella. Sometimes other varieties are included.

Don’t neglect the opportunity to try a small, privately produced drink: they are often no worse than those produced in factories. And what you should definitely avoid is buying wine on the side of the road, which is poured in plastic bottles. It has little in common with real Abkhazian wine.

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