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Semikarakorsk - Strong Black Fortress
May 15, 2015 15:47


What can be special in a green town at a hundred kilometers distance from the capital of the Don region, on the left bank of the Don River, with a population of less than 30 thousand people? However, its unusual name immediately attracts attention. According to one version, the word with Turkic roots means something like “strong black fortress”.

This very fortress - or what is left of it - is located in the vicinity of Semikarakorsk. It is a unique monument, a real Khazar settlement.

Myths and reality merge on a sloping hill above the Salak River, ancient Scythian spirit is felt in the Don steppe. The attractions of Semikarakorsk are few. These are the Memorial of Victory and the Eternal Flame at the Heroes’ Square named after Ivan Levchenko. The native of the city, a young conscript Levchenko was surrounded near Orel, but he preferred death to captivity - he blew himself and fascists up with a grenade.

The most well-known enterprise of the city is the ceramics factory where a museum is open. Semikarakorsk is famous for its painted pottery. Dishes and souvenirs are hand-made of local white clay, painted and covered with glazing. The paintings are bright, the sunny colors depict ornaments of Don flowers, scenes from Cossack life.

On customer’s request, pottery can be produced by order, you can take a unique cup with you. By the way, Semikarakorsk can boast of excellent dairy products, organic vegetables and very delicious crabs. In addition to Khazars, Cossacks, ceramics and crabs, UFOs were noticed in the ancient Semikarakory. UFO chronicles describe the case in 1974, when an object consisting of three luminous ellipses appeared in the sky above the town.

The engineer Viktor Mishchenko, who observed the phenomena, was not injured - “he experienced only mild curiosity”. The town can be remembered also by film lovers: the crazy characters of the film by Aleksandr Kaidanovsky “Juicer’s Wife” wanted to go to Semikarakory - a quiet green paradise”.


It is commonly believed that this area was once occupied by the Huns, then Scythians and Khazars lived there. The Cossack town of Semikarakory was first mentioned in 1594 in the “List of all Cossack towns situated on Don”. 1672 is considered the year of its foundation. It is one of the oldest Cossack villages of Don.

It was repeatedly transferred to new locations due to floods during wide overflows of Don. Its modern location has been as it is since 1845. The floods stopped only after the construction of the Volga-Don Canal. According to local legends, the village was named either in honor of the seven brothers-founders with the surname Karakorsky or in honor of the Cossack Ataman Semen Karakorov. There are also several scientific versions, the most convincing one goes as follows: the word with Turkic roots means “strong black fortress”.

This relates to the deep history of the settlement. The Semikarakorskoe settlement which gave the name to the village belongs to VII-IX centuries BC. Constant raids of hostile neighbors periodically united the neighboring villages for withstanding the attacks of Circassians, Tartars and Turks. A guard mound was equipped near the village for constant monitoring. The residents of the village successfully engaged in traditional agriculture - raised cattle, grew bread cereals and grapes. After the revolution the village was transferred from the white army to the red army, as elsewhere in the Don, with a considerable number of victims.

During the Great Patriotic War the village was occupied by the fascists and completely destroyed – the equipment of mechanical workshops, livestock and grain were sent to Germany, the vineyards were cut down. The partisan detachment “Groza” acted on the district territory - it defeated the German garrison and held the city until the arrival of the Soviet troops. In 1943 the settlement of Semikarakory was released. The status of the town and district centre was given to the village in 1972.

The ruins of the Khazar fortress built in VII-IX century BC are preserved near Semikarakorsk on an island formed by the Salak Channel and small rivers. Once there was one of the gateways of the Silk Road in this place- the goods from Asia were transported by water. As far as they chose the sloping, not the steep river bank for the construction, the main purpose of this building was trade and transportation of goods, not defense.

The excavations conducted in 1972 allowed to determine the structure of the fortress: a citadel or a temple in the centre, a pentagonal shaft, a huge tower on the eastern side, several burial mounds and circular structures of unknown purpose. The remains of a moat, a rampart and a large tower, as well as burial mounds are preserved.

The island and the fortress are rather mysterious places, as well as the Khazar state itself that flourished for several centuries but did not survive the struggle with the Pechenegs and the Prince of Kiev Svyatoslav. It is still unclear, if this island is of natural origin or its water borders were created artificially. The Khazar name of the fortress is also unknown.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Semikarakorsk     

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