Bakhchisarai and the Assumption monastery.

Bakhchisarai is a district town situated in the picturesque valley of the Churuk-Su River 32 km from Simferopol. The territory of Bakhchisarai was settled 40,000 years ago. There are the rests of two settlings of the Early Paleolithic Age.

Bakhchisarai (“palace in a garden”) appeared in the 16th century when khan Khadji Ghirey transferred their capital from Eski-Kyrym (Stary Krym- “Old Crimea”) to a bank of the River Churuk-Su (“Fouling Water”) The narrow valley stimulated a picturesque lay-out of the city, which harmonized well with the lush greenery.

Streets ran parallel the river to the ensemble of structures of the khan’s palace, which became the city’s center. Several monuments of Crimean-Tartar architecture have been preserved in Bakhchisarai.

In the outskirts of Bakhchisarai in Salachyk (now Basenko street) there are sepulchre of Khadji-Ghirey and Menglis-Ghirey and the Zindjirli Moslem school. In the former Podgorodnoye there is complex of four mausoleums.

In the Mairam-Dere ravine stands the Assumption (Dormition) Cave monastery, and further on a fortress and the cave town of Chufut-Kaleh (“Jewish Fortress”), the family nest of the Karaites.

The city’s vicinities are very rich in archeological landmarks and monuments of medieval architecture. They are the cave towns of Tepe-Kermen(“Top Fortress”), Kyz-Kermen (“Girl Fortress”) and Kachi-Kalyon (“Camp of Nomads”).

Further to the south-west there are the Syuren Fortifications, the town of Mangup, the Kyz-Kule (“Girl Tower”) and Eski-Kermen (“Old Fortress”) Fortifications.

Bakhchisarai has always been an attraction for men of science, letters, art and travellers. Some drawn here by the Khan’s palace, glorified by the great poets Alexandr Pushkin and Adam Mickiewicz, others by the famous cave towns, still others by the picturesque scenery.

Half a million visitors a year — such is statistical evidence of the popularity of Bakhchisarai. The most celebrated sights of the town have always been the Khan’s palace and Chufut-Kale.

The Khan’s palace was built in the 16th century. There were gardens, which made a part of the palace complex and gave its name to the town. The palace is situated on the right bank of the small river Churuk — Su.

One of the most remarkable parts of the palace is the Iron door, or the Portal of Aleviz. The Portal was erected by the prominent Italian architect Aleviz Novi in the spirit of mature Renaissance.

The interiors of the Bakhchisarai Khan’s Palace with its brightly painted walls carved ceilinas and festive window frames are rich and magnificent.

The fountain yard came into being in the 17th century. There are two fountains:the «Golden Fountain» erected in 1733 and the «Fountain of Tears» created in 1764, cut of marble by the Persian sculptor Omer in 1764. It has become a poetic image; symbol of live human sorrow embodied in cold stone.

lauded by A.S. Pushkin in 1824 in «Bakhchisarai Fountain» and «To the Fountain in the Palace of Bakhchisarai»:

Love’s fountain, living fount of life!

This gift! bring to you — two roses…

The building of the harem erected in the 18th century has an enfilade planning and two tiers of windows, rectangular in their lower part and keel- like above.

Of particular interest is the State Council and Court Hall (“Divan”). The most important internal affairs of the Crimean Khanate were discussed and its foreign policy outlined here. The upper stained glass windows of the Hall are of rare beauty.

One of the early structures is the Small Mosque. Its architecture is of the Byzantine character. All has survived in its original appearances.

In the Bakhchisarai historical museum there are rich collections and a library comprising books on history, ethnography and art.

In the nearest vicinity of Bakhchisarai, 3-4 km to the south — east from the Khan’s Palace Museum the Assumption monastery is situated. It is a church hewn in the rock with ground structure* the former house of the Father Superior with a belfry and the remains of a small chapel. However these structures as well as the rock paintings pertain to our time dating back to 1850’s.

Dating the Middle Ages are the caves and the Church of the Assumption — hence the name of the monastery. There were monk’s cells.

The springing up of the monastery is supposed to date back to the time of the commencement of the feudal relations in the Crimea and was connected with the iconoclasm in Byzantium.

In the 8th century the Byzantine clergy gained such an importance, that the monasteries and churches had in their possession the major part of the state lands. The monkshood assumed threatening proportions — almost one third of the male population became monks.

Emperor Leo III and Constantine V who ruled in the VIII- th century began the persecution of clergy under pretence of the struggle against the iconolatry. It was condemned in 754, and churches containing mural paintings were being demolished, icons destroyed, monasteries’ lands confiscated. Monasteries were closed and monks as well as lay iconolaters fled to the North, to the Crimea in particular. Here in the mountains of the Crimea numerous monasteries appeared. Most of them ceased to exist in the 13 th century. The Assumption monastery existed ever since almost for 7 more centuries. The caves appeared in the Middle Ages. From the XV century the Assumption monastery was the center of the Orthodox Church in the Crimea. The government of Russia s gave it a pecuniary aid, and the Russian ambassadors to the Crimean khan often visited it.

Across the monastery there was a village of Mariampol. When the Christians were moved from the Crimea in the 18th century, the villagers settled in a new place on the Azov sea coast. They called a new settlement Mariupol, known now as an industrial city of the Donetsk region where now there are also Yalta Gurzuf, Stary Krym … After the Christians moving the monks left the monastery too^ It was completely abandoned. It 1786 only one monk resided there. Now it is being restored and services are being conducted by Christian clergymen.




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