Karachay-Cherkessia: a source of inspiration for life

Main facts:

  • Administrative center: Cherkessk

  • Federal District: Caucasus region

  • Language(s): Russian, Circassian, local

  • Population: 466,000

  • Timezone: UTC+3

  • Main religion: Islam, Orthodoxy

Top 10 attractions:

Sights map of Karachay-Cherkessia

Travel around Karachay-Cherkess Republic

Karachay-Cherkess Republic is one of the most beautiful areas in the Caucasus. A small Caucasian republic is unite in itself the high impregnable mountains, marvelous gorges, pristine lakes and virgin forest wilderness. On the territory of Karachay-Cherkessia, there are many peoples who have their own language and ancient history. They come to these territory in different ways: someone originally existed in these lands as heirs of the Alans, someone came here with the Tatar-Mongol invasion (like the Nogais), someone migrated from the territories of Turkey and Abkhazia (Abaza), and some came here as nomads from the Middle and East Asia (Scythians, Polovtsy, etc.). The inaccessibility of this remote land from the trade routes formed enclaves of independently living peoples, which rarely intersected with each other, not like with other civilizations. As a result, they were very small in number and literally cut off from the extensive development of neighboring countries and often fell under their influence, already being conquered. So it was during the time of the Tatar-Mongol invasion, the reign of Tamerlane, the militant raids of the Turks and the Crimean Tatars, and later the Russian government. When, in the 15th century, Turkish khans and Crimean Tatars began to raid the territory of Karachai and Circassia, life in these parts became quite unbearable, and the local people began sending embassies to a strong neighbor, Russia, one by one. It so happened that at the end of the 16th century, this land voluntarily joined the Russian Empire, and in the early 19th century, after the Russian-Turkish war, Turkey renounced its rights to the Caucasian lands, which eventually led to the final accession of Karachai and Circassia to the country.

After the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, strong White Guard detachments were formed in the Caucasus, not resigned to the killing of the tsar and the country's transition to the Soviet form of government. Having gathered an army from many Caucasian nations, including among the peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia, they took control of the local territories and kept them until 1920, when General Denikin's troops finally broke all the White Guard formations. From that moment on, a peaceful existence was established in the republic, industry and the agrarian sector began to develop. In Teberda, for example, several health resorts and a center for mountain tourism in the Caucasus were built. Roads were built throughout the territory, transport and housing infrastructure developed. But during the Second World War, the territory of Karachay-Cherkessia was captured by German troops, who established a regime of brutal terror here. Most of the local population died, and some were forced to cooperate with the Nazis under the threat of execution. After the liberation of the territory by Soviet troops, the Karachays and Balkars were accused by the Soviet authorities of aiding the Nazis and deported to Central Asia; the same happened with many other peoples of the Caucasus. This was the black page of history of the Karachay-Cherkessia people. In 1957, Balkars were able to return to their homeland, but it was completely dependent on the neighboring Stavropol region until 1990, when the requirements of local residents satisfied and the republic gained autonomy. At one time there were options for creating a multitude of autonomous regions (in the territories of different peoples of Karachay-Cherkessia), but in the end, after the referendum, the population voted for the united republic of Karachay-Cherkessia. Since then, the republic is part of Russia as a full-fledged subject of the federation.

Karachay-Cherkessia for some Russians is known for its breathtaking mountain landscapes. However, I noticed that the majority is little known at all. Meanwhile, in these parts one can meet such beauties, for the sake of which some travel thousands of kilometers from home, to other countries and even continents. For example - the mountain gorges of the Caucasus, which stretch for tens of kilometers in different directions from Dombay valley. The gorges Amanauz, Alibek, Dombay-Ulgen are breathtaking - so much so there are majestic and impregnable mountains. They have snow even in the summer, and the glacial masses hang on the sloping slopes and sometimes break down. By the way, the main tributary of the Kuban river - the Teberda River - originates directly from the Dzhuguturluchat glacier ("land of the tours"), which can be observed in all its glory from mount Mussa-Achitar. From the village of Dombay you will be taken to the top by the ropeways, and from there you can feel the greatness of the Caucasus in its entirety. Just do not forget the rain coat and warm clothes - even in summer there the temperature does not rise above +10 Celsius. Not far from Dombay there are several other natural beauties - Sufrudzhinskij waterfalls, Baduk Lakes, Karakel Lake and the spurs of the Caucasus mountains. The landscapes here are incredible, and the lack of people and poor infrastructure make this area a bit “wild”, which creates a full sense of the discoverer. Coming here means going on a hike, enjoying peace and tranquility, feeling harmony with nature and being in the role of a real traveler.

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Unlike some other republics of the Caucasus, in Karachay-Cherkessia there are very few historical evidence of the cultures of different peoples inhabiting the republic. The most ancient surviving buildings are the Senty and Shoana churches, which are located on the mountain slopes near Karachayevsk. Due to the great distance from the trade routes, small resource wealth and periodic devastation during wars and revolutions, this territory was rarely especially prosperous, and the local people mostly sought to survive, rather than preserve the heritage of their ancestors. Today, ancient history lives here mainly in the national food, folk traditions and rare myths and legends that are known by rare highly educated inhabitants of mountain settlements. An interesting fact: once the region of the Caucasian Mineral Waters belonged to the Cherkess republic, and they received a large source of income from health resorts and numerous rich guests who visited them. However, after the events of 1943, this region was placed under the authority of the Stavropol region, and Karachay-Cherkessia was left without a huge amount of financial resources, as well as without a constant flow of tourists.

 

Although it is already 21st century, there are very few good roads in the republic, a low population and there is practically no work that allows to live here. On the one hand, this leads to an outflow of the local population from the republic, and on the other, to the absence of tourists who could breathe new life into these places. Attempts to create ski resorts (Dombay and Arkhyz) on the slopes of the Caucasus Mountains have not yet brought a serious improvement in the living standards of local people. Because of inconvenient transport accessibility (far from airports, train and bus routes), most tourists prefer more affordable resorts and natural attractions. Although in Karachay-Cherkessia there is a huge amount of natural beauty (take at least Bermamyt plateau), their inconvenient accessibility and lack of tourist infrastructure make them unfamiliar to most people. Although this also has its charm, right? Not all the time you should hike the hills around Sochi...

The most beautiful city of the republic (and the most populated - 125 thousand inhabitants) is the capital Cherkessk. There are several places that are nice to see here, such as the Green Island city park and the city’s pedestrian Pervomayskaya street, the buildings of the City Hall and the Republic Government, the Cathedral Mosque and the Pokrovskaya Church. For those interested in the history of the peoples of the region, I advise you to visit the Museum of Local History. But, of course, next to such a beautiful surrounding nature, any city will fade!

 

Although Karachay-Cherkessia cannot boast of a large number of bright sights, be sure to visit it if you will be in these lands - here are very hospitable people and incredibly beautiful nature that inspires good thoughts and an active positive life.

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