5 Reasons to Visit the North Caucasus
By: The PH Team
The North Caucasus is a region in southern Russia, encompassing seven federal subjects of the Russian Federation (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kardino-Balkaria, Stavropol Krai and Karachay-Cherkessia).
The region is known for its mountainous landscape, which has created fertile ground for the development of various ethnic groups and local languages. It is the most diverse region of Russia and is home to dozens of ethnic groups and languages.
Although most people know the region from political turmoil in the 1990s, today the region is quite safe and travellers are free to enjoy its rich history, culture and breathtaking scenery.
1) The Caucasus Mountains
The Caucasus Mountains are mountains at the intersection of Europe and Asia, spanning in the territories of various ex-Soviet states and unrecognized countries.
Stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, it surrounds the areas known as the 'Caucasus region' and is home to Mount Elbrus, arguably the highest peak in Europe - it lies on the border between Europe and Asia.
Many mountain areas near the border, require visitors to obtain special permission in order to visit. The mountainous border regions are extremely beautiful and far away from the regular traveller trails.
2) It's the Most Diverse Region of Russia
The North Caucasus region is by far the most diverse region in all of Russia. The region is home to dozens of ethnic groups and dozens more languages, many of which are endangered.
Dagestan, with a population of about 3 million, is very ethnically diverse and Russia's most heterogeneous republic, with the largest ethnicity constituting less than 30% of the total population. This is a result of its mountainous terrain and its ability to impede travel and communication. It is the most diverse republic in the most diverse region of Russia!
3) Grozny, Vladikavkaz & Makhachkala
The capital cities of Chechnya, North Ossetia and Dagestan are both beautiful and entirely off-the-beaten-track!
Grozny is the capital of Chechnya. Once known for its separatist nature, today the region is securely under the control of its regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and the Russian government.
As such, Chechnya and in particular its capital Grozny, have experienced a large influx of federal investment to rebuild and refurbish what was ruined during the 1990s.
Today, Chechnya's capital Grozny is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Russia and definitely one of its most modern.
Vladikavkaz is the capital of North Ossetia. Just across the border from its southern counterpart, the unrecognized country of South Ossetia, Vladikavkaz is a cultural and historical masterpiece.
The city is a good location for travellers wishing to continue to either South Ossetia, Chechnya or Dagestan, and is also one of the largest by population in the region.
Makhachkala is the capital city of the Republic of Dagestan, in southern Russia. It is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea and is home to the Makhachkala Grand Mosque, one of Russia's largest.
As of 2010, the city had a population of 572,076, making it the largest in the North Caucasus Federal District.
4) The Hospitality
The republics in the North Caucasus region are famous for their hospitality. Although many of the people of this region don't have much, they are more than happy to to be hospitable to guests.
In many places throughout the North Caucasus, being around foreigners is not an everyday occurrence and will surely warrant some of the region's renowned hospitable nature.
5) Vainakh Tower Architecture
Vainakh tower architecture is a characteristic feature of medieval architecture of both Chechnya and Ingushetia in the North Caucasus.
Vainakh tower architecture was also distributed to parts of neighboring Georgia, by Chechen builders. Some towers were used as living spaces, while others had a military purpose; some combined both functions.
The oldest fortifications in the North Caucasus date from the 3rd millennium BC. The oldest remains of buildings with the characteristics of Vainakh towers date from the 1st century AD.
Construction greatly increased in the 12th and 13th centuries. Vainakh tower architecture and construction techniques reached their peak in the 15th–17th centuries.
Today, Vainakh tower architecture is a symbol of the region and one of the most attractive sights for foreign visitors to the region.