The North Caucasus

The North Caucasus

photo of The North Caucasus view

Introduction


The North Caucasus is a part of Russia located in the mountains and foothills of the Caucasus.
Geographically, it is located in Asia, south of the European part of Russia. This region can boast the most fertile land, the most important resorts and the highest peaks in the country. The North Caucasus is called the Pearl of Russia. At different times it attracted travellers, artists, poets and writers. The natural wealth of the North Caucasus is combined with its historical and ethnic diversity.


Historical Overview

 

The most ancient tribes lived in the highlands and had to cope with steep mountain routes. The first primitive population began to settle in the Caucasus Mountains in the 26th-19th centuries BC. The first civilisation, formed in the 13th century BC, was called the Coban culture of the Bronze Age.
The Coban culture was very rich for its time. In the areas of its settlements, archaeologists have found bronze axes, daggers, belt buckles, elbow pads and bracelets. Bronze objects were decorated with chased geometric patterns or images of animals. People also made figures of animals and humans. The villages of the Coban tribes were located on the hills, on the tops of the rocks and steep ledges above the valleys. The Coban culture existed until the 3rd century BC. In addition to metallurgy and metalworking, the Coban tribes developed pottery-making.
With the growth of production and the increase in the population, the tribes of the Coban culture began to develop trade relations with neighbouring peoples, the population of the Transcaucasus and then the Scythians. At the same time, the Cobans began borrowing cultural elements and technical achievements
from their neighbours. Later, ethnic communities that formed on the basis of the ancient Coban culture continued their independent development. Gradually, a number of nationalities were formed in the mountains of the Caucasus. Although they retained the legacy of the Coban culture, they began to speak other languages. The descendants of the tribes of the Coban culture are today’s nationalities like ​​Abkhazians, Western Georgian sub-ethnic groups, Ingush, Chechens, Batzbians and others.
In the 13th century, the Mongol-Tatar Yoke invaded the North Caucasus. However, many native Caucasians did not want to submit to the khans and moved to the mountains, where they lived under the protection of forests, rocks and steep slopes.
The Caucasians learned to fight in small groups, using ambush tactics, sudden raids and rapid retreats. Tatar troops felt very vulnerable there. Caucasian peoples became powerful soldiers. The Islamic state of the Ottoman Sultans grew stronger and expanded its holdings in the 15th century. In 1453, Sultan Mehmed Fatih crushed the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman troops arrived in the Western Caucasus. Preachers from the Ottoman state actively disseminated Islam among the
Caucasians.
In the 17th century, a significant section of the Adygs of the Western Caucasus and the Azov Sea supporting the Crimean Khan adopted Islam. The main military actions moved to Kabarda in the Central Caucasus. But Kabarda was supported by Russia. The Russians built fortresses in the North Caucasus, and many servicemen from the Cossacks migrated to these places.
At the end of the 18th century, the Crimean Khanate was defeated by Russian troops. Later, the Russians began to colonise the Caucasians. Today, the North Caucasus is part of Russia.


Where to Stay


The main resorts of the North Caucasus are Kislovodsk, Mineralnye Vody, Arkhyz, Prielbrusye, Zheleznovodsk and Essentuki. Most tourist stay at campsites, recreational centres or cottages.


Bars and Restaurants


Caucasian cuisine includes Armenian, Georgian, Azerbaijani, Kabardian and Ossetian national dishes. It mainly consists of various meat dishes (chachobili, shashlik), hearty soups (shurpa, kharcho) and sauces (tkemali, adzhika). Don’t forget to try delicious pastries (kozinaki, pakhlava) and famous Georgian wines (saperavi, rkatsiteli) and Armenian cognac.


What to See


Arkhyz

 

Arkhyz is a popular tourist destination. The mountain resort of Arkhyz is located in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, in the region of the Arkhyz gorge. The resort is surrounded by high, steep mountain ranges. The Arkhyz region is part of the Teberda Reserve. The unique mountainous landscapes and plenty of lakes have contributed to the development of ecological tourism, cycling and horse riding. The resort also provides various opportunities for mountaineering and rafting. You will see the ancient settlements, ancient temples and other attractions in the vicinity of the village of Nizhny Arkhyz.


Dombai


The Dombai ski resort is located in the Karachaevo-Circassian republic in the North Caucasus, within the valley of the Teberda River. The well-developed infrastructure within the resort means tourists can relax and engage in mountain skiing with an excellent level of comfort. For the convenience of guests, a cable car has been built, ski slopes are well-equipped, and sports equipment is available for rent. Excursion walking routes mean you can fully enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery and learn many interesting facts about the area.


Essentuki


Essentuki is a resort located in the Stavropol Territory, 17 kilometres from the city of Pyatigorsk. The nature is picturesque and colourful here. In addition to medical and spa treatments, the city has a lot of entertainment facilities: cafes and restaurants, nightclubs and discos, parks and museums, and even parachuting. At the end of August, Essentuki celebrates its birthday, and you can see folk festivities, air shows with aerobatics figures and fountain shows. In the city, there are lots of park areas such as Victory Park and Medicinal Park. You can also swim and sunbathe on the beach at the Big Lake.


Mineralnye Vody


Mineralnye Vody is another charming resort with a special atmosphere and plenty of amenities. Tourists love walking along its quiet streets and squares, visiting museums, churches and cathedrals and enjoying the mountain views.


Pyatigorsk


Pyatigorsk is the largest city in the region. Here, you can see Mount Beshtau. From the height of its peaks, you can enjoy fabulous panoramic views: almost all the resort towns, a lake, a chain of snow-capped peaks of the main Caucasian mountains. There are more than 40 mineral springs, differing in chemical composition and water temperature.


Mount Elbrus


Mount Elbrus is the highest peak in Russia and Europe, located north of the Greater Caucasus Range on the border of two republics: Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria. Elbrus is a two-peak extinct volcano. The height of the western peak is 5642 m above sea level, while the eastern one is 5621 m.


Transport


The easiest and most convenient way to get to the North Caucasus is by plane. There are direct flights from Moscow to Vladikavkaz, Pyatigorsk or Nalchik. To travel between the resorts, use minibuses or trains. You can get to Arkhyz by bus from the airport of Mineralnye Vody or the railway station in Cherkessk. If you are going to Dombai, take a bus from Mineralnye Vody Airport or from the railway station of such cities as Nevinnomyssk, Cherkessk or Nalchik.

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