Balkar towers

Bezengi tower balkars nothern Caucasus mountains

Bezengi valley

The Balkar people built their own towers up in the high Caucasus mountains, in what is today’s Kabardino-Balkaria republic. The Balkar tower in Bezengi valley is built and furbished in typical Balkar style: the carpets, furniture, pottery, guns etc, while at the same time having modern amenities for tourists.

Other Balkar towers – Upper Balkaria

Click below to take a 3D tour of the beautiful Bezengi valley and to visit the tower

безенги

Karachay and Balkars – Turkik people of the Caucasus

The Balkars and Karachay are a Turkik people who arrived and settled in Central Caucasus around the XII century. Although having their own Turkik languages, they adapted to local Caucasian culture – dressing, dance, customs; also, values like hospitality and honor, prevalent throughout the Caucasus, are essential part of Karachay-Balkar culture.

Karachay-Balkar language is divided in 2 dialects: Karachay-Baksan-Chegem and Balkar. The Kumyks, their ethnic cousins who speak the same language live in today’s Dagestan.

 The Balkars live in Kabardino-Balkaria republic, mostly in the high mountainous regions which are also some of the highest in the world.

The Karachay live in neighboring Karachay-Cherkessia, at the foothills of the Caucasus mountains.

The Karachays and Balkars are followers of Islam.

Deportation

Both the  Karachay and Balkars were deported in 1943-1944 at Stalin’s order, together with the Ingush, Chechens and Digor people (muslim minority of North Ossetia). Like all other deportees, many perished due to unbearable conditions (cold, starvation, hard labor, lack of medical help etc). The survivors were allowed to return in 1957 after Stalin’s death.

A particularly bloody episode took place in 1942, when over 1.500 villagers were killed in Upper Balkaria by NKVD – Stalin’s secret police.

TV report on the Balkar people
Karachay dance called “Abezek”

Karachay song
Dance ensemble “Balkaria” live performance
Balkar dance (couple)

Upper Balkaria

Kyunlyum village north caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery eastern europe

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful l scenery

Upper Balkaria is a historic region and rural settlement in Cherek district, Kabardino-Balkaria republic. It is located in Cherek-Balkaria valley of the Western Caucasus mountains and it’s rich in medieval dwellings, stone towers and castles which make up the archaeological and tourist complex “Upper Balkaria. Sadly, most were destroyed by the Soviets after the deportation of the Balkars in 1944.

In 1942, the NKVD (Stalin’s secret police) lynched up to 1.500 people in 2 villages from the Cherek valley in Upper Balkaria – mostly women, children and elderly, as the men were fighting on the front.

In 1944, the Balkars were deported by Stalin to Central Asia and about half of them died due to the unbearable conditions. The survivors returned in 1957 after Stalin’s death but found most of their villages destroyed.

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus beautiful natural landscapes

Ruins of Kyunlyum village and its rock battle tower

Rock tower Kyunlyum village north caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery eastern europe

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains

Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains natural scenery eastern europe

Abayev tower Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus

Medieval crypts

Medieval pagan crypts

Cherek canyon Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus beautiful natural landscapes

ruins Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria village caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Cherek canyon Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria mosque and north caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria north caucasus canyon

Верхняя Балкария

Upper Balkaria mosque north caucasus

Upper Balkaria village north caucasus

village upper Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains natural scenery

Upper Balkaria caucasus mountains eastern europe

Medieval crypts

Medieval pagan crypts

Amirkhana rock fortress

Amirkhana rock fortress

Amirkhana rock tower Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria stone towers fortresses caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful natural landscapes

Upper Balkaria village caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria villages north caucasus eastern europe

Boziev castle ruins

Boziev castle ruins

View from rock castle

View from rock castle

Remains of the battle tower near the village Zylgi

ruins in Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains

castle fortress Upper Balkaria caucasus mountains

Castle Boziev Cherek canyon Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria canyon caucasus mountains

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus landscapes

Cherek canyon north caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria Cherek canyon caucasus mountains natural landscapes

Upper Balkaria canyon caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery eastern europe

Cherek canyon Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains landscapes

abaeva tower Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains natural scenery

Cherek canyon Upper Balkaria north caucasus landscapes

Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful natural landscape eastern europe

Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery eastern europe

rock towers Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria rock towers caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria Kabardino-Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria north caucasus mountains beautiful natural landscapes

Upper Balkaria villages caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Upper Balkaria village caucasus mountains beautiful natural landscapes

Upper Balkaria Kabardino Balkaria north caucasus mountains landscapes eastern europe

Upper Balkaria caucasus mountains beautiful natural landscapes

Upper Balkaria Abayeva caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

old tower Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains

Kabardino-Balkaria north caucasus mountains eastern europe

Kyunlyum village 1936 (before deportation and destruction)

Kyunlyum village 1936 before deportation and destruction – although some towers has been destroyed by Tsarist armies one century earlier, the residences were still intact. They were blown up by soviets in 1944.

Kyunlyum before destruction

Kyunlyum villagers

Kyunlyum villagers

Balkar women of Kyunlyum

Balkar women of Kyunlyum

Kabardino-Balkaria Kyunlyum past north caucasus mountains landscapes

Upper Balkaria Kyunlyum deportees past north caucasus mountains landscapes

Upper Balkaria night caucasus mountains beautiful natural scenery

Chegem, Kabardino-Balkaria

Chegem river valley is situated in the Central Caucasus mountains, in Chegemsky district of Kabardino-Balkaria.

Tyrnyauz, Kabardino-Balkaria

 

Tyrnyauz (which means”narrow gorge” in Balkar language) is a small city located at the foothills of western Caucasus mountains, 40 km from Elbrus mountain (the highest of Europe).

It first appeared on the map as settlement built around Tyrnyauzsky mine, which is no longer operating and sits in ruins. In 1955, the settlement received town status.

In July 2000, a succession of three massive mudslide virtually buried the city, but the media reports on the incident were scarce – a move taken most probably in order to not discourage tourism in the area. The authorities were blamed for negligence in alerting the local population. More info here Rescue Workers Fear Mudslide Death Toll Could Rise

The town’s infrastructure was restored quickly as it is the main stopover on the way to Elbrus mountain.