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Georgia letting Turks in to pray and have a wash2011-02-02 21:41
In Bendukidze's times, everything was sold in Georgia except one's conscience. Now conscience is sold here as well. The freedom of conscience is bought by Turkey. Saakashvili's government has allowed the Turks to reconstruct four mosques, two of which will spite Georgian Armenians, while the rest will enhance Ottoman economic influence over Adzharia. Ministry of Culture assures that this is the only chance to prevent the destruction of the ancient Georgian temples in the Turkish territory. Georgian Orthodox Church is opposed to it, for Ankara could be pressed upon via UNESCO. The juiciest point of the new agreement, however, is the reconstruction of a Turkish bath-house in Batumi.
agreement, however, is the reconstruction of a Turkish bath-house in Batumi.
If the Turkic-speaking peoples are actively building mosques in Georgia it speaks of the Islamic expansion, to which the entire Christian world is subject, but if the Turks restore their bath-houses in Batumi it means they have come to the Georgian land with serious and long-term intentions.
There is the ancient Goniyskaya fortress in the neighbourhood of the capital of Adzharia which was announced an open-air museum in 1994. Its layout can be clearly seen from cosmos, including the space for Roman thermae - bathing establishments of the Byzantine Empire times. However, in XVII century, Adzharia was conquered by Ottoman Empire and the fortress was captured by Turkish troops. During their two-century dislocation, the thermae were turned into hammam, which ruins still attract tourists.
Generally speaking, the Turks were never famous for clean habits. Still, getting accustomed to the territory conquered from the Byzantines, they also fell for hot steam baths, having added massage, belly-dancers and tea-drinking. That's the way the "Turkish bath", or hammam, appeared.
In Batumi, which is still "occasionally" marked as Ankara's territory in Turkish maps, such bathing establishments are numerous. Each respectable hotel considers is necessary now to open a hammam. The city is transformed and improved due to the Turkish capital, hoping to attract tourists from beyond the southern boundary of Adzharia.
The tourists, however, feel special affection for the ancient bath-houses. The restoration of one of them erected at the beginning of last century started three years ago by Arsi development company, which is famous all over Georgia. Director of its Adzharian subsidiary Arci Batumi Gela Vasadze wrote the following in his blog: "Many years ago, Tengiz Abuladze shot an episode (Repentance, 1984 - ed.) in a Turkish hammam in Batumi.