North Ossetia - Alania: worthy heirs of Uastyrdzhi

Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Vladikavkaz

  • Federal District: Caucasus region

  • Language(s): Ossetian, Russian

  • Population: 701,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religions: Orthodoxy, traditional Ossetian beliefs

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of North Osetia - Alania

Travel around North Ossetia - Alania Republic

North Ossetia - Alania attracts many tourists and travelers. It's because of a large number of bright sights in the republic, as well as the incredible hospitality of the Ossetian people and in a wide variety of their culinary masterpieces, known far beyond the borders of the republic. For a long time, Ossetians have inhabited their lands, and the history of this courageous people is estimated in thousands of years. In the vicinity of the village of Koban in the mountainous Ossetia, ancient archaeological finds were found that allowed dating of human presence in these places for thousands of years BC and hence the name of the first Caucasian culture - Koban. And also the ancestors of the Ossetians - the Alanian people - were the strongest people in the Caucasus, who kept this territory under control right up to the invasion of the Huns and the Great Migration of Nations. And even after that they did not lose the stronghold on the lands of Ossetia; Moreover, the Alans settled throughout Eastern Europe and Asia. Great Alanya was an ally of the Khazar Khaganate in the Middle Ages, and the army of the Alanian commander consisted of up to 30 thousand horse soldiers. It was truly a great power! The source of the prosperity of the Alans lies in geography: the Silk Road passed through the Alagir gorge, along which rare and therefore expensive goods from distant Asia reached the markets of Europe and the Black Sea region. Alans were well-enriched because of this, but it was the only passage through the Caucasus Mountains that led to their destruction. In the 12th century, a powerful army of Tatar-Mongols invaded from the south, overcame the Caucasus Mountains and managed to shake the borders of the Alanian kingdom, and then the great invasion of Tamerlane (Timur) in the 14th century completely destroyed this state. The Alans were simply crushed by the enemy, but fought till the last. The memory of this is in the archeological finds and military wit of the Alans, who managed to rebuild the hidden mountain fortresses in the gorges for their protection. Example - Dzivgis cave fortress in the village Dzivgis, which today is best preserved. Another example of the history of the Alan kingdom is the Alansky Uspensky Monastery, built in the 10th century by Armenian and Byzantine missionaries in Fiagdon gorge. This ancient monument, which was not reached by the troops of the Mongols and Timurids, is still one of the main holy Orthodox places in the North Caucasus.

After the military invasions, the Alan kingdom lay in ruins, but the mountain Alans were not subdued. Over time, they returned to attempts to revive agriculture and animal husbandry, but due to the small number of suitable land, they increasingly sought to land in the plains. This happened at the end of the 18th century, when the Alans were among the first in the Caucasus to join the Russian Empire. For Russia, their accession was strategically important, because they controlled the only transition through the mountains in the Central Caucasus. Thus, in 1784, the fortress of Vladikavkaz was founded to protect the passage. Most Ossetians moved to the flat areas allocated to them, but some remained in the mountain gorges, where to this day on the slopes you can see the remains of the mountain terraces used by the ancient Alans for their crops. By the way, from the moment of their accession to Russia, they began to be called "Ossetians" - in a word, close in Georgian to the word "axis" ("aces"), i.e. "Alans". In the 21st century, most Ossetians were in favor of returning to the people its historical name "Alans", and the name of the republic to "Alanya". Hence, the two-part name of the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania is carried out: the first word is traditionally called by the Russians, the second - by the Ossetians themselves (Alans).

In the 19th century, the whole Ossetia existed under the control of Russia, while in South (mountain) Ossetia, active attempts were made to implant the administration of Georgian governors, which, however, did not lead to success. However, since the formation of the Soviet Union, the territory of Ossetia was artificially divided into two parts: the north remained part of the RSFSR, and the south came under the control of Georgia. Subsequently, the northern part received autonomy, as did the southern part within the Georgian ASSR. During the Russian Great Patriotic War on the territory of North Ossetia, one of the toughest clashes between the Soviet and German forces took place. A huge number of Russians, Ossetians and other peoples were killed in military operations in the Ossetian gorges, but it was on the outskirts of Vladikavkaz that the German war machine was stopped and then reversed. For their feats of arms, the Ossetian people received recognition throughout the Soviet Union, and the city of Vladikavkaz received the status of a "city of military glory." During World War II, the territory of the deported Ingush people crossed over to North Ossetia, to which Ossetians were forcibly resettled from mountainous areas. However, in 1957 almost the entire territory was returned to the Ingush, and the Ossetians returned to their homeland. Only the territory of the Prigorodny district of North Ossetia (the neighborhood of Vladikavkaz) did not return, because of which in 2002 an armed clash broke out between the Ossetians and the Ingush, who demanded that the historically established lands should be returned to them. As a result of conflict more than 600 people died, the entire Ingush population of Ossetia was forced to move to Ingushetia, and relations between the neighboring republics were irretrievably damaged. To this day, extremely cold relations are observed between the republics, which are not expected to warm in the near future. Consider this if you plan to visit these republics - there is no transport connection between them, and even local taxi drivers will not take you.

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South Ossetia, which after the collapse of the USSR wanted to become an independent state because of a wave of nationalism in Georgia, was attacked by the Georgian military and fought with them for three years. The region won its partial independence, but in the 2008 year Georgian troops re-entered the republic. As a result, Russia was forced to help the Ossetian people with its troops, and since then they have been guarding the borders of South Ossetia, which does not want to be part of Georgia, although the latter does not seek to give the republic independence.

If you are going to see the whole territory of the Ossetian people, you should know that North Ossetia is part of Russia, and South Ossetia, although there are many Russian-speaking people, is nominally part of Georgia. Nevertheless, the shortest and one of the most beautiful automobile routes of the Caucasus - from Vladikavkaz to Tbilisi - passes through the Georgian Military Road connecting two republics. To visit Alagir and Darial gorge is a must, because it is one of the most majestic mountains in the North Caucasus. Also in North Ossetia, I highly recommend visiting the Kurtatin gorge, where there are evidence of the history and monuments of the ancient architecture of the Alans, as well as the Koban gorge, where the majestic necropolis "City of the Dead" in Dargavs situated. This building has a long history, and the harsh spirit of the people who lived in such a distance from civilization among the desert land can be felt today. The most severe landscapes and the most impressive monument of the history of ancient Alans today are, of course, the necropolis in Dargavs, which is definitely worth a visit.

And, of course, do not forget to visit the capital of the republic - the city of Vladikavkaz. Created as a military fortress, today Vladikavkaz is a center of culture and education in the republic, attracting not only by its beautiful embankment, the romantic Prospect of Peace and the National Museum of the Republic of Alanya, but also by the breathtaking panorama of the Caucasus Mountains, which can be seen from the symbolic "Chugunny" bridge. Vladikavkaz is a great place to learn more about the Ossetian people. In general, my visit to North Ossetia left a feeling of unshakable spirit, people's resilience in the face of difficulties and the majestic beauty of nature, for which I want to come back here again and again.

Welcome to North Ossetia-Alania - the republic of hospitable, proud and worthy heirs of the great Alans!

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