Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

The region has been comparatively safer for centuries than the coastal towns subjected to constant raids and destruction, and therefore both traditional Tatar and and Christian monuments

July 31, 2022

Mountain Crimea with its cave monasteries, the Khan's palace and ancient cemeteries is no less interesting than the South Coast.



>Photo: Marchenko Artem (CC BY-SA 4.0)/Wikimedia Commons


With the collapse of the Golden Horde in the middle of the 15th century, an independent Crimean Khanate was formed, headed by the Girey (Geraev) dynasty. After the Turks captured the Crimea in 1475, the khanate recognized itself as a vassal of the Ottoman Empire.

There is a legend about the foundation of Bakhchisaray

Once the son of Mengli Giray Sahib was sitting on the river bank and saw a fight between two snake. When one of them became exhausted, a third snake crawled out of the bushes and attacked the winner.

In excitement, the fighting snakes did not notice how the defeated snake plunged into the river and healed. Sahib Giray saw this as a good sign.

And indeed, having returned home, he received the news that the Horde Khan Akhmet, who had once exterminated the army of Giray, and drove him into the fortress, was defeated and left the Crimea. A palace was erected on the site of the vision, and the image of snakes was placed on the Khan's coat of arms.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

The old city stretches almost 5 km along the Churuk-Su river. The area of ​​the Khan's Palace is the most interesting. From the palace to the Assumption Monastery and the cave city of Chufut-Kale can be reached on foot or by minibus.

Medieval tiled houses give the city an oriental flavor. The French ambassador who accompanied Catherine II on her journey wrote:

French ambassador to the court of Catherine II

The unique complex in Bakhchisarai is the former residence of the Girey Khan dynasty, from the middle of the XV century, who ruled in the Crimea by appointment of the Turkish Sultan.

Khan's Palace(XVI century) were surrounded by gardens that gave the name to the whole city (Turk. bakhche & nbsp; – “garden”, barn – “palace”). footer” data-v-941a3c78>

“This palace is like paradise, and if a person looks at it carefully, he will be surprised and amazed and involuntarily put his finger to his mouth, his mind will be clouded – this is such an extraordinary and amazing palace.”< /p>

Evliya Celebi, a famous Turkish traveler

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

The appearance of the building in general terms resembles Topkapi – the Sultan's palace in Istanbul. During the renovation of the palace in 1822–1824, the old murals were painted over and elements of European architecture were introduced into the design. During the Crimean War, a military hospital was located here.

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The oldest building & nbsp; – the portal of Aleviz (1503) & nbsp; – was built by the Italian architect Aleviz Fryazin, known in Russia as Aleviz the New. Ivan III invited him among other architects for construction work in the Kremlin. Aleviz got to Moscow through the Crimea.

By order of Mengli Giray, he was detained in Bakhchisarai for almost a year and a half to build and decorate the Khan's palace. Later, Aleviz Novy became famous as the author of the Archangel Cathedral in the Moscow Kremlin.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

To the vast complex The palace-museum includes several buildings – the main, residential, harem, the Small Mosque, the Falcon Tower, the large Khan's mosque Biyuk-Khan-Jami, the Gireev family cemetery, etc.

In the 1960s, a scientific restoration was carried out. The carved portal of Aleviz, the paintings of the 18th century on the walls of the Khan's secret lodge and the paintings of the master Omer in the Summer Pavilion were cleaned of later layers. The khan’s office, the ceiling of the Council and Court Hall, the original decoration of the palace mosque, and the fountain courtyard have been recreated.

In the Council and Court Hall with a painted ceiling (end of the 16th century) and two rows of stained-glass windows, a sofa was assembled (council of elders ).

Small Palace Mosque (XVI century) – one of the earliest buildings of the palace. A very narrow circle of people prayed in an ascetic room: khans, members of their family, dignitaries during meetings.

The fountain courtyard with two fountains became famous thanks to the poem by A.S. Pushkin “Fountain of Bakhchisarai” The Golden Fountain was built in 1733 under Khan Kaplan Giray. The name of the fountain is due to the gilded ornament on the marble lining.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

However, more remarkable the modest Fountain of Tears  is a monument to the love of the cruel Khan of Crimea-Girey for the mysterious Dilyara-Bikech, created by master Omer. At first, in 1764, the fountain was installed near her mausoleum outside the southern gate of the palace, and only then moved to the Fountain Courtyard.

In the harem (only one building out of four survived), the stained-glass window and the wooden portal in the room of the chief eunuch were preserved in their original form. palace.

Behind the Biyuk-Khan-Jami mosque (1740), painted by Omer, there is a cemetery. The earliest burial dates back to 1592. Behind the cemetery are the Sary-Gyuzel baths (1532), which worked until 1924.

An exhibition of Eastern and Western European edged weapons and firearms is open in the palace.

In front of the palace gates, the so-called Catherine's Mile is installed – a stone column with an inscription in Russian and Tatar: “Empress Catherine II of noble memory deigned to be in Bakhchisarai in 1787 on May 14.”

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

Bakhchisarai Palace< /h3>

    The Palace Gate and the Count's Building

    Ticket Offices

    Entrance to the Palace

    Main Palace Building

    Fountain Courtyard

    Harem Building

    Great Palace Mosque

    Palace Cemetery

    Northern Dyurbe Mausoleum

    Mausoleum “Southern Dyurbe”

    Sary-Gyuzel bathhouse

    Stable building

    Mausoleum “Dyurbe-Dilyary-Bikech”

    Catherine's Mile

Bakhchisarai surroundings

Between Simferopol and Bakhchisarai in the village. Scientific is located founded in 1955 Crimean Astrophysical Observatory. In 1960, the largest optical telescope in Europe at that time with a lens diameter of 2.6 m was installed here.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

To the Holy The Assumption Monastery and the cave city of Chufut-Kale are led by a forest road, to which minibus No. 2 runs from the city. From the Khan's Palace in Bakhchisarai, you can walk along the street. I. Gasprinsky past the existing ancient mosque Tokhtali-Jami (1707).

In the Kanly-Dere gorge, archaeologists discovered a Paleolithic human site (50-40 thousand years BC). The found skeleton of a one and a half year old child, according to anthropologists, belongs to the type of person, transitional from Neanderthal to Cro-Magnon.

From the parking lot at the entrance to the Assumption Monastery (to the right of the Mariampol cafe) there is a road to the mausoleum (1501). The first Crimean khans are buried in it – Hadji-Devlet-Girey and his son Mengli-Girey. Near – Zinjirli Madrasah (1500), Muslim theological school.

Above the entrance hangs a chain that gave the name of the building (zinjir – “chain”): everyone entering here had to bow his head before the wisdom of Allah.

Bakhchisarai, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

Assumption Cave Monastery

The name of the active male monastery is associated with a miraculous appearance on the rocks of the image of the Virgin. Steps were carved to the image in the rock, and then a temple appeared, around which a monastery was formed. Having escaped the defeat perpetrated by the Tatar-Mongols, the Assumption Monastery during the time of the Crimean Khanate became the center of Orthodoxy in the Crimea.

The monastery was revered by both Christians and Muslims. The founder of the Girey dynasty, before a military campaign, asked for help from the Most Holy Theotokos. In 1475, after the capture of the Crimea by the Turks, the monastery remained a stronghold of Orthodoxy in the Khanate.

During the First Defense of Sevastopol, an officer's hospital was located here. A few tens of meters from the skete is a fraternal cemetery of Soviet soldiers. The monastery was closed in 1921.

In 1993 the monastery was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church. Three of the five monastery churches, cell buildings, the rector's house, the bell tower were restored, a water source was equipped, the famous staircase was reconstructed (the last scene of the feature film “Hamlet” was filmed there).


< p>From the Assumption Monastery, the forest road will lead to the cave city of Chufut-Kale. The road passes by the collapsed entrance to the once tekie (Muslim monastery) that used to stand here. Among the thickets, you can see carved stone tombstones from the 1st half of the 14th century.

In ancient times, the city, inhabited by Alans and Sarmatians, was called Kyrk-Or (Turk. Forty fortifications). Before the construction of the Khan's Palace in Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale was the temporary residence of the Crimean khans.

During the struggle of the Crimean khans with the Golden Horde, the fortress served as a fortified residence for the Gireys. After Mengli-Girey moved his headquarters to Bakhchisarai, Kyrk-Or became a place of imprisonment for noble captives.

Bakhchisarai, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

From the many names the name of Chufut-Kale (“Jewish fortress”) was attached to the city, since the last inhabitants were the Karaites.

The small gates of Kuchuk-Kapu (XV-XVI centuries) are open for tourists. They are also called secret: they are not visible until you come close to them. The gate was a cunning trap: even if the enemy broke through into the fortress, he found himself in a narrow corridor with an overlap, on which the defenders of the fortress were located.

In 1999-2001, a mysterious well was opened and cleared near the southern slope of Chufut-Kale . What it was intended for is not completely clear. It is possible that water accumulated there, which eventually disappeared.

The well could also be part of the defensive system of the fortress — some Karaite legends speak of warriors “appearing from the ground”. Since 2001, the well has become a tourist attraction.

Two buildings of Karaite kenasses (Karaite temples) have also been preserved. On the left – Big Cathedral kenesa (XIV century), on the right – Small kenesa (XVIII century), built by Karaites who moved from Mangup.

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Not far from the kenasses is the ethnocultural center “Kale”, where you can get acquainted with the exposition about the life of the Karaites and try national cuisine. The owners claim that Nicholas II was treated here (he was sitting at the far right table) during his visit to Chufut-Kale.

On the square where three streets converge, the remains of a mosque (1346) are visible. Nearby is an almost completely preserved mausoleum of the 15th century.

In the depths, on a stepped elevation, there is the tomb of Janyke-Khanym (1437), the daughter of Tokhtamysh Khan. The Muslim world was greatly impressed by her pilgrimage to Mecca in 1416.

At the edge of the northern cliff there are two large caves of Chaush-kobasy – the basement of the Karaite estate of the 17th century.

On the edge of the cliff, 50 m from the Middle defensive wall, there is a dungeon. Here, for 20 years (1661–1681), the Russian boyar and voivode Vasily Borisovich Sheremetyev (one of the first “captives of the Caucasus”) languished in captivity.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

The city closes the East defensive wall (XIV-XV centuries, length 128 m). There was a market in the square in front of the gate. The Main Street leads to them, the stones of which are cut by deep ruts.

Josaphat Valley – Karaite cemetery (500 m from Chufut-Kale). The name is borrowed from the ancient Jerusalem cemetery, where, according to legend, the Last Judgment will take place. The oldest tombstones date back to 956–1048. The centuries-old oaks at the end of the cemetery are considered sacred.

The road crossing the cemetery leads to a plateau from which Mount Tepe-Kermen is visible, where the cave city is located.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide


    Gate Kuchuk-Kapu (southern)

    Siege well

    Karaim kenasses

    Ruins of a mosque

    Dzhanyke-Khanym tomb

    Medium defensive wall. Fortress gate Orta-Kapu

    Caves of Chaush-kobasy

    Economic cave (dungeon)

    A.S. Firkovich

    The estate of S. Beim (Chal-Boru)

    Eastern fortress wall. Big Gate (Biyuk-Kapu)

    Ruins of the bathhouse

    Prison casemate

    Karaite cemetery in the upper reaches of the Josaphat Valley

Eski -Kermen

The road to Eski-Kermen lies through the village. Red poppy. There are buses from Bakhchisaray to the village. You can also get to Eski-Kermen by walking along the forest road from the village. Zalesnoe.

It is better to climb the Eski-Kermen plateau from the south side, where the main gate was. To do this, you need to bypass it from the east. Along the way, you can see the Temple of the Three Horsemen, carved into a stone block. On the northern wall of the temple, a fresco depicting three horsemen has been preserved: the middle one, George the Victorious, strikes a serpent with a spear, the other two hold spears with their points up.

Slightly above the temple there is a small cave church of the Assumption.

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

Eski Cave City -Kermen was one of the centers of the uprising against the Khazars in 787. After the suppression of the uprising, the city was destroyed.

The siege well is located at the edge of the eastern cliff. 95 stairs lead to a 10-meter gallery, where water seeped from the ceiling. The square with the basilica (VI century) has been preserved.

Walking along the southern part of the Eski-Kermen plateau and rounding the Kyz-Kule tower, in the neighboring valley you can see a rock, in the upper part of which a temple of Donators (donors) is carved.

Fragments of fresco painting have been preserved. Perhaps, on the western wall one of the Theodorian princes with his wife is depicted, at whose expense, apparently, the temple was built.

North of s. Bashtanovka is the cave monastery of Kachi-Kalyon. The small church of St. Sophia, Faith, Hope and Love is built in a block torn off from a common rock and can accommodate 10-15 people.

In the nearby grotto there is a source of St. Anastasia. The water is considered healing, and the fruits of the cherry growing nearby, according to local belief, help with infertility.


A bus goes from Bakhchisaray to the village. Zalesnoe. The shortest (about 1 hour), but steep trail is laid along the bottom of the middle ravine Gamam-dere. You can also get to Mangup (including by car) along the old road that goes around Cape Teshkli-burun (Leaky Cape).

Bakhchisaray, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

From the hill near the southeastern cliff, where the highest point (628.3 m) is marked with a geodetic sign, a panorama of almost the entire mountainous Crimea opens from the Sevastopol raid to Chatyrdag.

You can see the city itself, trace the direction of the main street , crossing it from the entrance gate to the Tabana-dere gate, and the outlines of other streets and quarters.

One of the oldest buildings of Mangup  is the Church of St. Constantine and Helena (VI century).

< p>The citadel on the eastern cape of Teshkli-burun was erected on the site where in the 10th century there was a cemetery and a church. In the carved rock, you can see the contours of the church and the crypt adjoining it, where you can go down the stairs.

A three-story building, strongly protruding forward, is called a castle, or a palace. The upper floors served as a fortified residence for the rulers of Mangup and its garrison, the lower floors served as an arsenal and a prison. After 1475, noble captives languished in it.

A carved staircase leads under the base of the “tower”, into a spacious cave, the front wall of which collapsed, forming a through hole, which is why the cape was nicknamed Teshkli (Leaky).

Bakhchisarai, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the mountainous Crimea: the most detailed guide

Two stairs lead down from the cave on the edge of the cliff: the right one – to a stone ledge – “balcony” hanging over the road, the other – to a large “cave-prison” with a retaining pillar worn to a shine in the middle. If you hit it even lightly, a sound resembling a drum is heard. Hence the name of the whole complex -Drum-koba.

The most interesting cave church of Mangup is located above the main road to the eastern gate: you need to go down the path from the geodesic sign to the foot of the cliff, turn right, and after 200 m the cave church will open gallery and stairs leading to the temple. The walls are decorated with cornices and arches. Fragments of the painting survived in some places.

The Grand Canyon of Crimea

Millions of years ago, a giant stone slab broke in two, the waters of the rivers deepened the bottom, and a gorge with sheer walls formed. The river Auzun-Uzen flows along its bottom.

The height of the walls of the canyon reaches 300 m.Bakhchisarai, Chufut-Kale, the Grand Canyon and other pearls of the Crimean mountains: the most detailed guide

Getting to the canyon you can from the railway station Bakhchisaray by bus to the village. Falcon. From Sokolinoye you need to walk 6 km to the sign “Grand Canyon”.

Foresters charge an environmental fee, and locals offer guide services. You can do without a guide: the trail has been trampled by numerous tourists.

The material was published on the Vokrug Sveta website in December 2015, partially updated in July 2022

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