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Rocks above the town
Rocks above the town

As for me, it's one of the most amazing places in Ukraine among Kamianets, Pidkamin and Czerwonogrod. This small Crimean town is extremely popular between tourists. In its narrow streets you may entounter guests from other countries and - sometimes it seems like from other times. Crouds are attracted by the khan's palace glorified by poets and by no less renowned though in many respects as yet enigmatic "cave towns". And we should mention the picturesque natural scenery of the environs. It's Ukrainian piece of Turkey - somethinng like that.

Don't pay much attention to the new parts of Bakhchisarai: it's typical post-Soviet "raytsentr" with grey buildings, crowdy market near railway- and bus-stations, some old hotels and shops "Back to USSR"-style. But the old part of the town is amazing. It's situated in the narrow valley of the river Churuk-Su at a less than one mile's distance from the Simferopol-Sevastopol highway.


Khan's palace

The former khan's palace making now the town's focal point of interest is suppised to be erected in early 16th century.

See more pics of the palace here.


The former khan's palace making now the town's focal point of interest is suppised to be erected in early 16th century. Later on it underwent many rebuilding and alteration. So present-day aspect of the palace gives no idea of how it looked at those times. Now the Khan-Sarai occupies an area of 4 hectares, in the 16th century its area was a great deal larger. The fence and western gates were adjoined by gardens, that made an integral part of the palace complex. In fact, they gave the town its name (Bakhchisarai means palace-garden or palace in the garden, both words "bakhcha" and "sarai" that form this toponym being derives from the Persian). Beyond the gardens there was a palace meadow where khan's horses browsed and further at the foot of a clayey hill was a large town's cemetery.

The town for the most part huddled on the steep right bank of the river; on the left gently sloping one it recededrespectfully from the bend of the river Churuk-Su with its spacious terraces occupied by the complex of the palace structures.


Durbe of Dilara Bikech (1764) at the palace's fence. The tomb "Eski-Diurbeh" (15th c.). And those amazing rocks...
Durbe of Dilara Bikech (1764) at the palace's fence.
The tomb "Eski-Diurbeh" (15th c.).
And those amazing rocks...

The both the town and the palace were being created side by side at approximately the same time, they are of the same or almost the same age and this irretrievable connection between them has been imprinted in the name irself - "Palace-garden".

The picture of the medieval Bakhchisarai would be incomplete without mentioning the earliest monuments that have been preserved to our days. The locality not far from the railway station (this part of the town used to be called Azis or Azistar) is a kind of preserve, a site where numerous mausoleums are concentrated.

The most ancient of them is the Mausoleum Ben-Yudeh-Sultan which, the scholars believe, dates from late 14th - early 15th centuries. The monument can well be seen from the road - to the left on the way to the new town: it was built on a square ground plan transforming into an octagon surmounted by a semispherical cupola. Three more tombs are located near the Mausoleum.

A typical monument reflecting Asia Minor traditions which pennetrated into the Crimea through Syria is the Ahmed Bey's Mausoleum in all likelihood dating from the 15th century. Despite its small dimensions it looks rather imposing.

There is a mosque's pulpit (mimber) in the neighbourhood of the mausoleum. It's remnant of the unpreserved meeting-house of dervishes, Muslim wandering friars.

The Mausoleum of Khan Muhammed-Girey II (late 16th c.) is remarkable for its architecture. Despete the thickness of the walls (180 cm) and simplicity of the decor it is distinguished for an inimitable elegance of proportions.

Near the palace

At the palace tourists can examine some old mausoleums located on a hillock a stone's throw away from the schoolhouse. The complex is called Eski-Diurbeh ("old tomb"). These buildings are differ from those of Azistar by the form of the cupola - it is slightly elongated. There is no entrance from anywhere else but from inside the mausoleum. The monuments dates back to the times of the Golden Horde and was constructed in the 14th-15th centuries.

Unfortunatelly there are no dwelling houses dating from those time in the town.

The monument in honour of Russian Tsarrine Catherine the Great. She was in Bakhchisarai on 14th of May, 1787. Monument to Russian poet A.Pushkin. Some modern dwelling houses. A tank near the palace.
The monument in honour of Russian Tsarrine Catherine the Great.
Monument to Russian poet A.Pushkin.
Some modern dwelling houses.
A tank near the palace.

Khan Palace

In the museum

The chief object of sightseeing is just a stone's throw away from Eski-Diurbeh.

The earliest structare of the complex is the so-called Iron Door or Alvise's Portal. It was created in early 16th century by the Italian sculptor Alvise Novi. The portal is a unique monument with noble elaborated details that would have done credit to any European structure. The Iron Door is slightky gone into the earth - the best proof of it's age.

The Hall of the State Council and Court of Law and the Little Palace Mosque are date from the early construction period. The traditions of the Orient have mingled in Bakhchisarai with the elements of European art, the stamp of coalescence is everywhere. In the murals of the State Council and Court of Law Hall one can encounter the Ukrainian folk motifs of the 18th - early 19th centuries.

The Hall's stained-glass windows date from late 16th c. The ornament and colour of the glass panels are not repeated in any of these windows. Dating from the 16th c. is the parquetry in the ceiling's centre.

The earliest description of these rooms was made in 1736. It said that the floors were of marble, the walls were laid with many-coloured ceramic tiles and in the centre a fountain spurted. Here the state affairs were being discussed and settled, the war plans suggested by the Sublime Porte.

In the Little Palace Mosque one can see the arch of local stone, relief rosettes and other ornaments date from the 16th c.

The Fountain Courtyard is associated with the initial construction period (16th-17th cc.). Here are two fountains: the Golden Magzub, 1733) and Fountain of Tears (Selsebil) This example of Oriental architecture created by the Iranian master Omer in honour of the Khan Krym-Girey's beloved wife who died in her young years. The fountain was glorified by Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin in the poem "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai".

The names of some palace's rooms speak for themselves: the Envoys' hall for example.

In the depth of the palace garden there stands an outbuilding, all that has been left og the once larger khan's harem. In it's four appartments but a few articles reproducing the domestic atmosphere of the palace have been gathered.

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