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The historical surroundings of Crimean Khans’ capital in Bakhchysarai

Date of Submission: 24/09/2012
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(v)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Ukraine to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
c. Bakhchysarai, Autonomous Republic Crimea
Ref.: 5774
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Khan Palace: N44 34 55 E33 52 55

Chufut-Kale: N44 44 27 E33 55 55

The Bakhchysarai valley has been inhabited by different nationalities and tribes since the ancient times. The oldest cave sites of the Mousterian epoch (50-40 thousand years ago) were located in the territory of Staroselye-Salachik. There are several monuments of the Bronze Age and Early Iron Age in the valley. A large Taurian settlement dated by the 7th-6th centuries BC and situated in the bottom part of the Maryam-Dere ravine has been the subject of the research. Historically the most dynamic process of the Bakhchysarai valley development is associated with the medieval period. In the 6th century, there appeared a fortress on the Chufut-Kale plateau. It was built by the Byzantine engineers for the Empire’s allies that represented Sarmatian and Germanic (Alani and Goths) tribes. The plateau site that keeps the traces of that period is the Middle defensive wall. Among other ancient period monuments are the guards’ cave rooms, the fragments of architectural details of the Early Christian basilica, huge cemetery of the Early Middle Ages (6th – 9th centuries A.D.) on the Maryam-Dere valley’s north-west slope and the Tik-kuyu well.

The Alani tribes, that lived around the Chufut-Kale, are mentioned in the chronicles until the 15th century. The Kyrk-Yer (Chufut-Kale) fortress was both military and administrative center for the so-called “Minor Alani” tribes. Hence, the fortress and its surroundings keep the memory of the monuments belonging to the “Minor Alani” culture that disappeared. “Minor Alani” tribes as well as the tribes of Goths, composed one of the components of the Crimean peninsula population that had been inhabiting this area in the Middle Ages.

Chufut-Kale also keeps the testimony of the Crimean Tatars at the time of this nationality statehood appearance – in fact, it was the first capital of the Crimean Khanate, a political entity independent from the Golden Horde. The testimonies of that time are the mausoleum of Djanyke-Hanim, mosque remains (founded in the middle of the 14th century and renewed by Khan Hadji-Girey a hundred years later, in1455. InSalachik, the mouth of the Maryam-Dere ravine, there is a mausoleum, the shrine of the first rulers of the state – Khan Hadji-Girey and his successor Khan Mengli-Girey. There is also the Zindjirli Medrese, one of the most famous Muslim seminaries, that is situated on the Crimean peninsula. Later the capital of the Crimean Khans – Bakhchysarai appeared here with the city first settlements located in Chufut-Kale valley.

During the period between the 17th - 19th centuries the Karaites became the dominating ethnic and confessional group among the population of Chufut-Kale. The modern view of the city has been formed due to their active building activity. The earliest sacral buildings - kenassas, residential quarters, manor houses and caves, located in this area have been preserved in their initial condition. The urban architectural complex of Bakhchysarai, which started to be formed in the 1st half of the 16th century from the Khan-Saray, the city’s historical core, naturally contained Salachik as the City ofBakhchysarai suburb, and Chufut-Kale, as the town of the Karaites.

TheBakhchysaraiPalaceof the Crimean Khans is a compact architectural ensemble, which consists of 17 buildings and 9 inner closed courtyards. The ensemble was not built in one day that is why the plan of the palace has complex configuration and contains components of different styles. The total area of the ensemble is about500000 square meters(including7190 mof the built-up area).

The initial complex of palace premises was built in the first third of the 16th century. The oldest authentic construction of the initial ensemble dates back to 1532, the first known written reference dates back to 1539. The complex was built as the main residence of the monarchs of the Crimean Khanate - the state of the Crimean Tatar people. In its original status the complex has been used for about 250 years, till the collapse of the Crimean Tatar statehood in 1783.

The architectural ensemble includes two religious buildings (Big and Small Palace Mosques), official halls (Hall of the Divan or State Council, Embassy Hall), living premises of the Khans, their retinue and families (Living and Retinue Blocks, Harem), recreational premises (Summer Arbor, Falcon Tower), subsidiary buildings (chambers for guards, bathes, stables, kitchen yard etc.), small architectural forms (fountains and basins) and closed inner courtyards with gardens and parks.

The architecture of the Palace reflects general cultural traditions common in the Middle East. They are in harmony with original local traditions of the Crimean Tatars. Decoration of the palace buildings and interiors represents various architectural and artistic styles which dominated in the Crimean Khanate art in 16th – 18th centuries. The Palace is the sole example of Crimean Tatar palace architecture, which has preserved.

Bakhchysarai palace of the Crimean Khans, which was the main residence of the state power at that time, together with the surroundings of the medieval town of the Karaits, was the political, religious and cultural center of the Crimean Tatar community in the times of the Crimean Khanate.

The valley of Churuk-Su river has become the organizing natural and historical factor of the architectural complex of Bakhchysarai. It included such components as the palace, mosques, mausoleums, fountains, Salachik building complex, Uspenskiy monastery and Chufut-Kale. All monuments make one organic and harmonious look with the landscape which still preserves its main initial features.

In general, it is a unique natural and cultural complex, the formation of which has taken a long period of time. It still preserves the traits of lost and disappearing cultures - Taurian, Gotho-Alanic, Golden Horde, Karaite, Crimean Tatar, but needs a new push of research and preservation activities to be kept alive for the generations to come.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The cultural and historical landscape of Churuk-Su River (Bakhchysarai valley) is a phenomenon in the history and culture of the Crimea. It is enriched by the monuments that undoubtedly have the outstanding worldwide value. The latter is enforced by the fact that each of these monuments, namely the Palace of the Crimean Khans, Chufut-Kale town and Salachik complex is a unique example of the urban architecture that has no analogies in the world and is a trace of the engineering capacity of several extinct communities (such as Gotho-Alani, Golden Horde and others) that have once inhabited the Crimean peninsula.

The significance of the monuments of Bakhchysarai valley is explained by the role that statues, buildings or other structures played in political, cultural and religious life of the state and its citizens, as well as by their great influence on the events that marked the history of this territory. The objects have preserved their initial integrity and authenticity and are very rare world examples of historical and cultural monuments.

Criterion (ii): The Bakhchysarai palace of the Crimean Khans - is the architectural ensemble of the 15th – 18th centuries that have had a considerable influence on the architecture and monumental art development in the territory of Crimea in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Criterion (iii): Chufut-Kale settlement is a unique example of the ancient urban ensembles with the peculiar system of ground-based fortifications. The town has a planned structure and reflects the particular cultural tradition of the multinational Crimean cultural areal.

The Bakhchysarai palace and the complex of buildings in Salachik - are unique palatial and sacral complexes that embody cultural traditions of the Crimean Tatar architecture of the 16th – 18th centuries. The buildings are the only ones preserved in theterritory ofUkraine and theCrimea.

Criterion (v): The historical and cultural complex ofChuruk-SuRiver(Bakhchysarai valley) with its components: Chufut-Kale, Salachik, the Khan’s palace of the Crimean Khans are outstanding samples of  the harmonious combination of human activities and landscape. Chufut-Kale settlement has become an integral part of the natural environment of the mountainous landscape. Salachik and Bakhchysarai fulfill the same role being situated in the mouth of the picturesqueChuruk-SuRivervalley and surrounded by the canyon mountains’ north and south slopes. In both cases natural landscapes played the first violin while the rest man-made engineering structures and communications, such as access roads, administrative buildings, religious constructions etc. fulfilled their subsidiary role.

Criterion (vi): Chufut-Kale, Salachik and Bakhchysarai have been and remain centers of high political and cultural importance for the communities that are inhabited with. In the Medieval and Late Medieval periods they have become part of meaningful regional and All-European events. Today they regain their importance for the Karaite, Crimean Tatar and other nationalities that live on the Crimean peninsula as well as contribute to cultural and historic integration of the communities that make the Ukrainian nation.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

As the complexes, which were formed in the 16th – 18th centuries, Chufut-Kale and Bakhchysarai, have preserved general features, inherent to that period. They also reflect style, forms and materials, from which the buildings of the complexes were built. In particular, the system of Chufut-Kale urban housing planning is the only example of town planning left from the early times of the Crimean Tatar and Karaite culture formation.  It has been preserved till nowadays. In addition, the landscape surroundings of Chufut-Kale, especially from the side of theJosafatValley, are an example of the complex organization of the environment that has to be the symbol of theJerusalem pilgrim places where natural, historical and cultural components have been fully preserved.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Chufut-Kale settlement is a unique object where natural beauty is skillfully combined with the man-made creative work.

It resembles the City of Jerusalem features due to the desire of the Christianity and Judaism followers (that lived in the 15th-19th centuries) to enrich this location with the sacred elements of this Holy City, those of the Valley of Josafat, Mount of Olives, Joseph’s source, Gethsemane, etc.

The Chufut-Kale area also keeps the historical memory and testimonies of ethnic groups, shows differences in their genetic roots, cultural and ethnic peculiarities as well as proves the dynamics of coexistence of various cultural and social processes typical for Greek, Armenian, Judaic-Rabbinic, Karaite and Muslim communities.

Among the world cultural and natural heritage objects that Chufut-Kale can be compared with there are:

·  “GöremeNational Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia” inTurkey (1985, comparable criteria - i, iii, v, vii);

· “Petra” inJordan(1985, comparable criteria - i, iii, iv);

· “Meteora” inGreece(1988, comparable criteria - i, ii, iv, v, vii);

· “Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of theBamyanValley” inAfghanistan(2003, comparable criteria - i, ii, iii, iv, vi).

Chufut-Kale complex being generally united with the above-mentioned objects in their religious and architectural features has its own peculiarities. Its exceptional individuality is clearly seen in the exotic natural rocky landscape, sacred meaning of the area’s monastic caves, Muslim style complexes and Karaite kenassas, specific style of the ancient city-planning and high level of the rocky settlement remains’ archeological preservation.

Special emphasis has to be given to the historic value of the Crimean nomination. Chufut-Kale complex played an important role in the formation of regional and All-European history. Most prominent events happened in the 13th century, the time of struggle for the Golden Horde throne, and later in the 15th century, the period when Kyrk-Yer received the status of the Crimean Khanate’s capital.

Finally, there is a good reason to speak about the Chufut-Kale landscape component that organically combines natural caves and man-made constructions.

The plateau, where Kyrk-Yer (Chufut-Kale) settlement is located, dominates in the general visual panorama of the Bakhchysarai valley and can be compared in its scale and beauty with Meteora monastery complex in Greece built on the natural sandstone rock pillars or “Cave Towns” in the Crimea.

The comparison of the Bakhchysarai Khans’ Palace with other similar monumental objects in the world shows that this style of palace architecture, though having some traditional peculiarities of the palace constructions of the buildings erected in the Muslim East, preserves original features and is unique as an example of the Crimean Tatar palace complex.

Despite its unique character Bakhchysarai palace can be compared with other similar in style monumental constructions built in the countries of the Muslim East.

The highest level of similarity of the architectural forms is seen in the noble style buildings erected in the geographically closest regions, namely, the countries of the Near East. One will definitely mention here the palaceof Sultan Mehmedof Topkapı in Istanbul (16th-19th centuries) inTurkey.

Other similar but not identical examples of the palace architecture that resemble the Bakhchysarai style exist in:

·  the Arab Maghreb Union countries (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, South Spain). They are the Palaceof Alawitein Meknes(17th-18th centuries, Morocco) and the Palaceof Granada Emirsin Alhambra(11th-14th centuries,Spain);

· the Middle East (Iran,Afghanistan,Pakistan) andCaucasusregion countries. They the Ali-Qapu Isfahani palace (15th-17th centuries,Iran) or the Ensemble of Shirvanshahs inBaku(15th-16th centuries,Azerbaijan);

· Central Asia countries (Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan,Kyrgyzstan,Kazakhstan). One could mention here the Palace of Alla-Kuli Khan in Khiva (1830-1838,Uzbekistan).

All the countries of the South Europe, such as Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania etc. that appeared under the Muslim culture (except royal palaces erected in Spain) have their own architectural style which differs from that of the Bakhchysarai palace.

In Albania (Tirana, Durrёs, 15th-17th centuries) there have been preserved the palaces for the local noble citizens, named “sarays”. In Bulgaria they still use the so-called “konaks”, administrative buildings with residential part, that keep the traces of the Turkish ruling.

The comparison of Bakhchysarai with other monumental forms of the Crimean Tatars’ palace architecture is impossible due to its unique character and the absence of similar cultural objects in the world.