Ossetia South


South Ossetia-Alania is a sister republic of North Ossetia-Alania. The first state in the Caucasus was created by the Alans, ancestors of modern Ossetians. The state flourished in the 10th century AD and ruled most of the Northern Caucasus. The Alan state ceased to exist after the Mongol invasion in the early 13th century. So came that for many years the territory of South Ossetia was part of Georgia. Unfortunately, the Georgians and Ossetians have a long history of violence between them. Currently the Ossetians are a divided nation. Like the Koreans, Kurds, like Germans between 1945 and 1990. Only the international diplomacy which refers to the so-called international law does not allow the nation to unite. Unlike other Caucasian republics, both Ossetias have always been predominantly Christian. South Ossetia is a pleasant region where you can hike and drive amid mountain sceneries, visit and photograph old monasteries and even small castles. South Ossetia broke away from Georgia and is de-facto an independent state. It is not part of Russia but as of today, the only way to visit the republic is to enter it from Russian territory.

The long and winding road and mountain vistas come soon after passing the Rocky tunnel.

The coat of arms of South Ossetia.

Flags of North and South Ossetia are identical.

tskhinval - цхинвал

The capital of South Ossetia is a small city tucked in a valley between forest grown mountains. Heavily destroyed during the Georgian invasion in August 2008, it is being gradually restored. Currently few traces of war remain visible. The spelling "Tskhinvali" that you find on maps and travel guides is a Georgian way to name the town. When in South Ossetia you'd better stick to Ossetian spelling "Tskhinval".

The cemetery for victims of armed conflicts with Georgia in 1990-s and in 2008.

The national museum apart from regular artifacts has a small but precious collection of paintings by the Ossetian artist Mukharbek Tuganov. The paintings depict very peculiar and interesting customs, rituals and traditions of the Ossetian people. Of course, you need a knowledgeable guide to explain the paintings. It is worth listening to the explanations.

A small exposition is dedicated to the attack launched by Georgian troops on Tskhinval on August 8, 2008 = 08.08.08.

A swastika unearthed in South Ossetia is a proof of close relationship between ancient Alans and Persians.

Before armed conflicts with Georgia, Tskhinval had a sizeable Armenian and Jewish population. All Jews fled. Both synagogues are closed. Some Armenians stayed. Armenian churches continue functioning.

The World War II memorial with the Russian embassy in the background.

The formidable Russian embassy.

The memorial dedicated to the events of August 2008. The cross is circled by car wrecks. The cars with civilians fleeing from the war were destroyed by Georgian tanks.

around tskhinval

The 1000-year-old Tirsky monastery occupies a small terrace.

Two small castles can be found in the vicinity of Tskhinval. One is close to the road.

Another one is hidden in the forest.

When climbing through the forest to see the castle one comes across ruins of a 1500-year-old temple with ancient stone carvings.

Avid travelers Susan and Tony Childs from California are making their way to the castle which at a closer look has remnants of plumbing system. Water from springs located at a higher altitude was once flowing through the castle by clay pipes.

Ossetians are very hospitable people.