astrakhan – астрахань

Astrakhan sits in the lower reaches of the Volga River, about 100 km from the Caspian Sea. The city was founded in 1558 after the entire Volga River region was taken by Ivan the Terrible from Tatars. The original Tatar town was destroyed and a kremlin (fortress) was built on top of the dominant hill.

The entrance to the kremlin is through the 1912 Belfry Gate.

The Assumption Cathedral was built in 1698-1710.

The 17th century Trinity Cathedral.

Lenin leans away from the gold-plated crosses. The statue is outside the kremlin.

On the opposite side one can see a statue of Lenin's father Iliya Ulyanov who was born in Astrakhan.

A modern administrative building.

You can get your Iranian visa at the Iranian Consulate in Astrakhan.

The AZIMUT Hotel.

The LUKOIL office.

Astrakhan is an important river-sea port.

The nice riverfront promenade with fashionable nowadays quirky statues offers a good stroll.

A monument to Peter the Great who once visited Astrakhan.

Visit the fish market to pick up some delicious snacks.

ASTRAKHAN oblast – АСТРАХАНская область

khazars aka ashkenazi jews

Long before 1556 when Ivan the Terrible defeated the Astrakhan Tatar khanate, two capitals once flourished in this area: Saray-Batu of the Golden Horde and Itil of the Khazar khanate. The nomadic Khazars adopted Judaism as their religion and evolved in what nowadays is called Ashkenazi Jews.  Jews of central or eastern European descent who preserve Palestinian rather than Babylonian Jewish traditions and some still use Yiddish. If interested you can visit the excavations of Itil and pick up some ancient artifacts as souvenirs. The site is located in the Volga Delta next to the village of Samosdelka (Самосделка). To get there by car one has to take a ferry twice.

Jack Goldstein of Colombia has just picked up pieces of centuries old pottery.

The area is infested with snakes.

saray-batu of golden horde

The replica of the ancient Golden Horde capital can be found north of Astrakhan on the left bank of the Volga River close to the village of Selitrennoуe (Селитренное). Once you drove through the village look for a sign showing where to turn. The last 5 miles is a dirt road. The current structures were built as settings for a feature film. Saray-Batu was leveled to the ground in 1556 and all bricks were used for the construction of the Astrakhan kremlin. Nevertheless, the place is photogenic.

the volga delta

The delta of the Volga River bursts into thousands of branches. It is home to flocks of waterfowl and over 100 species of fish and fields of lotus flowers. There are numerous tourist bases in the Volga Delta easily reachable by road which offer quite comfortable accommodation, fishing equipment and where your catch will be cooked for your consumption in a friendly atmosphere.