Tskaltubo, Georgia. Centuries ago, people flocked to this town for its therapeutic radon springs. During a Soviet-era that standardized restful retreats for the worker, its resorts served visitors from as far away as Moscow. Casinos and theaters with elevators, bathhouses and columned verandas; Stalin himself had quarters there, minting its renown for luxe and respite. The town was also host to multiple sanatoriums, offering healing just inland from the Russian Riviera. Today, elegant structures of the former resort are striated and overgrown. The elements have been weathering local facilities since the early 90s, when state-run spas and sanatoriums were forced to close with the fall of the USSR. Shifting politics sent a wave of tension across formerly Soviet Republics, igniting northern Georgia’s civil war. The affected region of Abkhazia would become an autonomous republic in 1999, but not before bloody clashes claimed more than 8,000 lives and drove hundreds of thousands more from their homes. In Tskaltubo, Georgian government statistics account for almost 6,000 of these displaced people. They were allotted small rooms in the abandoned sanatoriums, a temporary respite that’s now lasted 26 years.

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