Historic highlights of Astrakhan
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Astrakhan is one of Russia’s most diverse cities, with cultural influences ranging from Persian cuisine to Chinese design. This southern centre on the shores of the Volga is jam-packed with historical gems for you to uncover.
Back in the days of the old Silk Road, Astrakhan was a thriving trading post thanks to an enviable position in the Volga Delta just north of the Caspian. Today the region is nicknamed “Russia’s kitchen garden” after its bounty of fresh produce, and since it’s a popular destination for hunting and fishing, there’s plenty of good food to go around. There’s a renewed foreign interest in the city and it’s definitely up-and-coming as a tourist destination. Considering a jaunt to the south of Russia? These enchanting sights might just convince you.
The great protector
Perched high above town on the tallest hill, the Astrakhan Kremlin offers the best views of the city below. Throughout Astrakhan, you’ll catch glimpses of the green and gold domes that cap the fortress as they reflect the morning sun, glimmering like a jewel of Russian architecture. With its elegant white-washed bell tower stretching 80 metres high, it’s an imposing building – but that’s only fitting for a 16th century bulwark against foreign invasion. Once inside the Kremlin’s high walls, be sure to check out the 18th century Assumption Cathedral – head inside and look up for a stunning interior view of the domes.
Back, white and red all over
Pick a colour. Thanks to the city’s diverse religious and cultural makeup, you’re spoiled for choice with countless beautiful, historic mosques to explore in Astrakhan. How will you decide which one to visit first? A short stroll across the Pervogo Canal from our Park Inn by Radisson Astrakhan (and directly opposite the Kremlin), the elegant White Mosque is a good place to start. Dating back to 1810, this is the city’s oldest mosque – and with its glittering blue dome, one of its most iconic sights. In stark contrast, the nearby Black Mosque is still undergoing reconstruction after the Bolsheviks reduced it to rubble in 1939. Originally built just six years after the White Mosque, today it’s a symbol of Russia’s turbulent history. Keep the colour theme going with a visit to the Red Mosque; its stunning facade marries traditional Russian architecture with Middle Eastern influence.
An easy day trip from Astrakhan, historic Sarai Batu was the first city of the Golden Horde. This Mongol kingdom ruled much of mediaeval Russia during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Palace of Batu Khan was recently reconstructed, offering you a glimpse into life under this warrior civilisation. Explore the terra cotta constructions, including mosques and mausoleums.
Dig a little deeper
Plan a visit to the impressively named Astrakhan State United Historical, Architectural Museum Reserve – it’s one of Russia’s oldest museums. Here you’ll find ancient treasures and relics from the archaeological site of the Golden Horde, as well as artefacts depicting Astrakhan’s military, medical and architectural history.