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The Most Ancient Cities of Russia, Part 1
November 30, 2014 17:20

It still remains a mystery which Russian city is the oldest one. Archeologists and scientists carry out various researches, but however profound they are, there is still not enough information. Therefore one can mention several versions, according to which there are three cities that might be the oldest in Russia. 

According to the most probable and widespread version, the most ancient city of Russia is Derbent. It is located in the territory of modern Dagestan. The ancient name of this city was the Caspian Gate. The earliest references of the site date back to the 6th century B.C. They were made by the Ancient Greek geographer Hecataeus of Miletus.
In spite of these ancient records, there are still disputes as to what city can be called the oldest city of the Russian Federation. In those bygone times when Derbent was already marked on the world map, there was no trace of the Russian Empire or the Kievan Rus’. Therefore, lots of scientists believe that the Caspian Gate cannot be correlated to Russia in any way. However, now Dagestan is part of the Russian Federation, just like the Moscow Region and the Krasnodar Territory

There is no word “derbent” as such, but it is a derivative from the word “darband” that has Persian roots and means “narrow gate”. Derbent is located in quite a narrow passage between the foothills of the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea. Sometimes this passage is called “the Dagestan corridor”. Once Derbent used to be one of the principal stations of the well-known ancient Silk Way. Therefore lots of rulers wanted to conquer it and carried out a range of bloody fights and battles. The city of Derbent was repeatedly destroyed and ruined. In spite of that it had long-lasting periods of heyday.

The oldest city of Russia is now filled with a great number of museums. More than half of Derbent is a memorial estate with a complex of stone buildings dated to the 6th century B.C. 
Naryn-Kala Fortress is one of the highlights of the complex. Throughout many centuries it served as a defensive checkpoint. Juma Mosque in the complex territory deserves special attention. It was constructed in the 8th century B.C. Juma is the oldest mosque in Russia. The temple was occupied by Arabs turned it into a mosque. But the temple was built long before the first Arabs came to Derbent. Therefore its entrance is not in the north as it should be but in the south. In front of the mosque there is a madrasah of the 15th century. 
Nowadays Derbent tries to keep up with modern trends and organizes tour itineraries. Every year thousands of tourists come to enjoy the sights of the oldest city of Russia.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Dagestan     

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