Bakhchysaray, Crimea, Ukraine Week 28 22nd - 25th October 2011
The Crimea was settled by the Tatars.

Part of the Golden Horde of Mongolians.

Some time after WWII Stalin moved the entire Tatar population to Siberia.

Some of them have returned since Ukrainian independence but are having a bit of difficulty with property rights and other minor vestiges of living.

We have entered a part of Europe which has had a tumultuous distant and recent history.

Bakhchisaray looked much more interesting to us than reminiscing about the impact of the British on the Crimea.

It was the Tatar capital of Crimea. This is the inside of the Khan's Palace.


One of the living rooms.
And the back gate.

There was an art museum through the door.

Minarets as befits an eastern muslim influence.
The main entrance. Ticket office on the left, museum entry behind us!

The museum was large and showed many aspects of Tatar life. Particularly their craftsmanship.

We've seen a few different building materials on our travels.

These are blocks of volcanic stone. About twice the size of bricks. They've been cut with a saw.

We saw houses built with these, then an external plaster veneer applied.


Described as a cave city which had us sort of excited.

For us perhaps better described as a hill top fortress with some cave dwellings. Then again, maybe we missed most of the caves.

Like most things on this journey we had to go see to figure out what the descriptions really meant. We don't feel the least bit in touch with the thoughts of the guide book and travel writers.

The ruins of a 1346 mosque built by Khan Canibek (of the Golden Horde).

Our first clue that perhaps most of the city was above ground.

The city was first settled by Christianised Sarmatian tribes somewhere in 6th to 12th centuries. Then the last of the Golden Horde took over after being defeated elsewhere, around 1346 before establishing their Khanate in Bakhchisaray a century later. As the Tatars moved out the Jews moved in.

Sounds like that at some time everyone had to hide from everyone else!

The mosque had also been rebuilt once since being first built.

Chufut-Kale is on a plateau which rises gently towards 200m cliffs. A bit like our Aussie "jump ups" with a hard surface preventing erosion of the softer rock underneath.

Ideal for cave dwelling.

There's a village in the bottom of the valley.

Another plateau to the north, that village is down to the left.
The main drag!

Those grooves are of cart wheels.

We've seen pedestrian ways either side in other places around the Mediterranean.

The wheel marks of course reminded us of wheel marks we saw in the ancient road in China.

Different here though. Perhaps the lack of standardisation of wheel track width meant the road lasted a few years longer. Though I'll bet it was just as rough to ride over.

Looking back towards Bakhchisaray.
The east gate was locked.

The wheel ruts are deep enough to challenge the best of 4wd clearance.

The buildings either side are a paper thin facade.

On the far side of the gate a car was parked. We'd walked a couple of km to the main entrance.

A bit intrigued by this small cistern.

It drained from the main road and looked like it was a water supply.

Outside of the main entrance was a large well, dug 120m into the rock below the cliff.

We could have climbed down the spiral stairs to the bottom but decided not to (we would have to climb up again!).

The stonework was interesting.

The rock must have been cut to whatever size it looked like it could be best cut to. Then fitted together by cutting bits out and adding small stones.

A 14th century prayer house. Kanesa - karaite.

On the way down we stopped briefly at the Uspensky Monastery. Built partly into the side of the cliff. Lots of "no photos" signs.

Our time in the Crimea was coming to an end as we headed north west towards the Carpathians.

We found a convenient canal with a track off the main road alongside it.

After a couple of km we camped beside an old pump house.

Having left the mountains of southern Crimea behind us we are back in wheat country.
This is number 31.

Not Acacia Avenue. We know not what.

They look vaguely military.

From our perspective something useful to do with military aircraft is to put them on a stand somewhere. 
We've seen a few WWII war memorials.

This one caught our eye in passing.

Another campsite in the woods.

Near a reservoir, which was a bit restrictive, and near a tip, which was potentially a bit polluting.

But quiet.

We haven't a clue what this rather large factory produced.

There was heaps of electrical connection to it and lots of waste heat.

The road crossed the cooling pond for the factory.
As we progressed through central and western Ukraine we couldn't help but notice the number of churches. All in good condition.

Presumably we were seeing the results of rebuilding organised religion after attempts at suppression by the Soviet Union.

Can't help wondering how the suppression of Tibetan and other minority cultures in China will end.

In disaster we suspect.

We've found it easier camping on the smaller roads. We are headed generally towards Kamianets Podilsky.

And so to the woods again. Somehwere west of Vinnisya.

Next morning was a bit of a slow start.

We patiently followed the cattle through the village as the herd was progressively made bigger.

I did once herd a few cows along a main road in England so could see the world from both sides. At any rate, these sort of cattle are not to be hurried - they behave very differently to Asian beasts.

People appeared with cows in ones and twos from their garden gates and joined the procession.

It had a feel of individual ownership communal herding. A sort of baby sitting service for cows.

We later saw small milk tankers on the roads.

Kamyanets- Podilsky, Ukraine Week 28 26th - 27th October 2011

Sorry, comments closed.