Number of inhabitants: 13 746

Area (km²): 54.5 km2

Chiatura was created in the 19th century, with the extraction of rich manganese deposits, and flourished as a Soviet industry throughout the 20th century. The town territory has rich archaeological evidence from the prehistoric period, medieval monasteries and historic urban fabric dating to the end of the 19-20th centuries. However, its outstanding value is in its industrial heritage. These important buildings give a unique representation of an ultimately important period of Georgia’s history.

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Statement by the Governor about COMUS Statement by the Governor about COMUS

"I am happy that Chiatura, which is a unique town from the point of view of cultural heritage, was selected as a pilot town for COMUS, and thus, became partner with the Organization of World Heritage Cities. During the next two years, we look forward to implementing new methodologies and approaches offered by the Council of Europe and the European Union. I think the project can improve local living conditions and support social cohesion. COMUS will also assist in improving the town’s appearance and in rehabilitating the historical environment, helping in the same way to overcome challenges in the field of urban planning and spatial organisation. Chiatura is remarkable for its ropeway infrastructure and industrial heritage related to manganese extraction, but the town needs solid financial assistance to preserve and adequately develop these resources. We hope that COMUS will assist in transforming these heritage assets into a resource for economic development, inter alia through tourism potential, and that ultimately this will have a positive impact on the local socio-economic conditions of the local community."

Governor of Chiatura Municipality

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Heritage specificities

Chiatura is one of the few towns in Georgia which emerged for industrial purposes. The spatial distribution of the town is interesting, as for example its complex ropeway system which was an innovation at the time of the Soviet Union and remains unique in Georgia and in the post-Soviet space. The stations are from different periods and architectural styles from Constructivism to “Stalinist” and late modernism. It is the landscape and the ropeway system which give the town a unique appearance. There are numerous other industrial heritage assets: mines, tunnels, bridges, plants as well as the earliest railway line in Georgia. The town also boasts a 150 year tradition of drama theatre, medieval ecclesiastic architecture and karst caves with rich prehistoric archaeological findings.

Local challenges

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the manganese extraction has become a privately owned business. Deregulated policies allowed extraction to take place with little or no environmental or social responsibilities. The once prosperous town has been on the brink of ecological and economic collapse. As identified by local stakeholders, the ultimate problem of the town is environmental degradation, unemployment and deteriorated infrastructure (the unique public ropeway infrastructure needs urgent renovation) all of which drive inhabitants to leave the town. COMUS is expected to assist in identifying possibilities for using heritage as an alternative resource for the town’s development, and thus facilitate the improvement of local living conditions in the long run.

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