How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

Categories: Design and Architecture | History

There are many mysterious places covered with legends on the world map. There are also truly mystical ones among them, where a person feels the presence of certain forces even during the day. One of these places is the "City of the Dead" in the Dargava Gorge in the North Caucasus, in the Russian Federation. This unusual necropolis is more than 700 years old and the most courageous horsemen do not dare to appear on its streets after sunset.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

From the capital of North Ossetia, the city of Vladikavkaz, to the Dargava Gorge is just over 40 km, but there are so many beauties concentrated on this distance that there will be enough impressions for a whole year. There are fantastic mountain landscapes with inaccessible rocks and emerald greenery, and rapid mountain streams rolling over rocks and falling roaring waterfalls from ledges, and a bottomless sky with soaring birds, which is not found anywhere else.

On the way to Dargavs, you should definitely stop at The Giseldon reservoir, whose calm splendor contrasts sharply with the bright and stormy mountain nature. The unusual begins here-if you have a compass with you, it will begin to behave unpredictably due to a strong magnetic anomaly. Another unusual feature of this region of North Ossetia is that it is cloudless and the sun shines 300 days a year.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

But few travelers, once in these parts, are satisfied with the incredible beauty of the landscapes — tourists are attracted here by the mysterious "City of the Dead", which has not yet revealed its secrets and offers both guests and scientists more questions than answers.

The" City of the Dead " in Dargavs is the largest necropolis in the North Caucasus, with 97 crypts. All of them were built in the 14-18 centuries, but you can't tell this from them. From a distance, this cemetery looks like a neat mountain village with white houses decorated with unusual pyramidal roofs. But the dead "live" in these crypts, and there are no conversations and children's laughter on the streets of the village.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

Many people are surprised how the crypts, many of which have been "exchanged" for seven centuries, look as if they were built several decades ago. Neither powerful winter winds, nor temperature changes, nor frequent earthquakes in these parts did not cause damage to them.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

The secret of strength lies in the solution used by ancient masons. Its composition is unique — the masters mixed sour cream, milk, eggs, as well as lime, previously aged for several years in pits dug in the ground. White houses-crypts expand to the base, firmly clinging with their stone foundations to the rocky slopes.

Walking through the streets of the" City of the Dead", you can stumble upon a human skull, vertebra or tibia with remnants of tissue and even pieces of dried flesh. Despite this, it is not scary here during the day and a person who is not burdened with superstitions can easily walk even alone, although the presence of certain forces is felt here all the time.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

This place looks completely different at sunset — visitors have an irresistible desire to leave the necropolis faster. As for the night time, it is believed that this time completely belongs to the dead and a living person who finds himself among the crypts will certainly be in trouble. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but I don't want to check it somehow. Locals do not even go to this place during the day, and even the most desperate daredevils do not wander here at night.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

The inscription above the entrance to one of the tombs reads: "Look at us with love. We were like you, you will be like us." This statement does not frighten, but it leads to philosophical reflections. Who were these people? What were you thinking and dreaming about? Who was loved and hated? What did they leave behind, except for the ashes?

On a sunny day, neither the empty eye sockets of skulls watching the guests, nor the bony hands, as if stretched out from the crypt doors to meet the traveler, cause panic. The main question that visits everyone who has set foot on the streets of the necropolis is how it happened that the dead are not buried in the ground, but lie in neat, but open to the winds, wild animals and immodest gaze houses?

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

A local legend explains the appearance of the" City of the Dead " in a beautiful Caucasian way. Once, about seven centuries ago, a beautiful stranger came to a mountain village in the Dargava Gorge. She was so beautiful that the most beautiful and strong warriors began to fight for the right to possess her. There was also bloodshed — more than once daggers flashed among the rocks and hot blood was spilled on the stones.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

Many men died, until the elders decided to intervene in the tragic events and judge who should get the stranger. When the girl was brought to the wise elders, they were amazed by her beauty and realized that peace would not return to their village, even if she was given to a worthy husband. Therefore, it was decided at the council to deprive the girl of her life, for the sake of saving the residents.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

The girl was declared a witch and executed, but her death did not bring happiness and peace to the mountaineers. A terrible curse descended on the village and the rocky earth stopped accepting the bodies of the deceased, throwing them out of the graves to the surface. Therefore, it was decided to build a necropolis from the crypts standing on the surface.

To atone for the guilt before the dead, who could not be buried according to the rite bequeathed by their ancestors, the funeral in the "City of the Dead" was distinguished by special pomp. The dead were dressed up in the best clothes and placed in carved wooden boats instead of coffins. Coins and things that were dear to them during their lifetime, as well as weapons, expensive utensils, wine and food were placed next to the dead.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

Ossetians believed that small boats with supplies would help their dead to overcome the difficult path to the kingdom of the dead, where the god Barastyr reigns. Money and valuables were intended not only for the deceased, but also for Aminon — a formidable guardian of the gates of the afterlife.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

But the main mystery of these crypts is that not all the dead look like the dead who have passed the funeral ritual. Some of the dead are lying in unusual poses, sitting or even appeared outside the crypts. This fact cannot be explained by the actions of looters or wild animals. What happened in the "City of the Dead"?

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

Of course, the story of the girl and the curse is another beautiful legend that this region is so rich in. Scientists can not accurately explain the origin of the custom of such funerals, but they have a completely realistic option. Archaeologists believe that in ancient times, epidemics were a frequent visitor in these places, the last of which, cholera, wiped out the settlement that owned the unusual churchyard.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

A few centuries ago, there was no one to help the victims of the plague or cholera, and people, feeling the first symptoms of a deadly disease, left their homes for the "City of the Dead" so as not to put their loved ones at risk. They took with them some food and water supplies, after which they took a place in the family crypt next to their deceased ancestors. Some were caught by death at the very entrance to the crypt or even on the way to the last resting place.

How the "City of the Dead" appeared in the Dargava Gorge, where the bravest do not go at dusk

This is the only way to explain why 97 houses contain the remains of more than 10 thousand people, not all of whom are properly prepared for the journey to the afterlife, according to traditions. But this is only one of the versions — the "City of the Dead" in the Dargava Gorge still holds many secrets that have yet to be solved.

Keywords: Mountains | Caucasus | Cemetery | Bones | Crypt | Cholera | Skulls

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