Traveling through the ancient settlements of Russia

Traveling through the ancient settlements of Russia

Last year turned out to be a generous year for traveling around Russia. In conditions of closed borders, many began to actively explore their native spaces, and even those who were previously skeptical were convinced from personal experience that there is something to see. In the new year, we propose to continue to develop domestic tourism, regardless of whether the future opening of borders has in store for us or not. Let’s go on an unusual journey through ancient cities and villages, which will definitely be remembered, and not only by architectural monuments.


Traveling through the ancient settlements of Russia


According to official data, Derbent was founded in 438, but the first mentions date back to the 4th century BC. It is not only the most ancient city in Russia, but also the southernmost.

How to get there: The easiest way is to fly to Makhachkala by plane in 2.5 hours. Round-trip tickets cost about 4,000 – 5,000 rubles. It is convenient to get from the capital of the Republic to Derbent by minibus from the Severny and Yuzhny bus stations. The ride takes about two hours, the ticket costs 150 rubles. It may be more profitable by taxi if you are traveling with a group – from 500 to 1,000 rubles.

What to watch:The main attraction of Derbent is the ancient citadel of Naryn-Kala, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Construction of the fortress began in the 8th century; only ancient baths, defensive structures and the ruins of the palace have survived to this day. Unfortunately, the Derbent fortress continues to collapse: for example, in the fall of 2020, part of the wall collapsed due to rains. 

Naryn-Kala stands on the highest point of the city, offering a beautiful view of Derbent and the Caspian Sea. The cost of visiting (100 rubles) includes a self-guided tour of the fortress, the historical museum and an art gallery with works by local artists. There are many souvenir shops on the territory, selling daggers, hats, silverware and traditional teapots. To avoid walking uphill, order a taxi from the station to the citadel.

Then start your journey through the mahals – these are the districts into which Derbent is divided. Take a look at the oldest Juma Mosque in Russia, visit the carpet museum or the house of the Decembrist poet Bestuzhev-Marlinsky. Then go down to the Caspian Sea. The Derbent Bazaar, known for its variety and low prices, opens from early morning. Buy some fruit there and go to the embankment to breathe the sea air and swim, if the weather permits.

Derbent is also famous for its sparkling wines, which have been produced at the local factory since the 19th century. By paying 300 rubles for a tour, you can learn about the production process and taste the wine. Interestingly, the plant produces not only sparkling, but also natural wines of various varieties: aligote, cabernet, chardonnay and muscat.

Where to eat: The most popular place for a snack and relaxation near Naryn-Kala is the Bayat tea courtyard. The owner will personally meet you, give you tea from the samovar and treat you to homemade pomegranates or persimmons (depending on the season). For tea, be sure to order jam made from rose petals, walnuts or white cherries.

Another place near the citadel is the Demir Kapi restaurant with a more impressive menu. The main specialty of the establishment is urdeg palcikhlar (“duck in the mud”) – gutted duck. There is also a large selection of pilaf. Bonus: from all points of the restaurant there is a panoramic view of Derbent. 

In the lower part of the city is the atmospheric Khayal restaurant, which specializes in oriental cuisine, and food is served against a backdrop of colorful carpets with views of the fortress wall and lighthouse. Be sure to try the main Dagestan dish – khinkal.

Where to stay: After getting to know Derbent, there is a high chance that you will want to stay here longer. Housing in the city is inexpensive in the off-season: prices start from 1,500 rubles per day.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top