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Muslims in the Motherland

And there, in the inlaid gift box from the khan, was the hand she had lost to the crocodile during her youth's failed pursuit to kill Peter Pan.

It’s a weird thing to see an old Russian babushka sweeping the floor of a mosque. Sure, it’s sexy, but it also feels a little out of place. People in mosques have dark skin. Isn’t that how this works?

After Genghis Khan partied across Asia into Europe, his residual governments and descendents (which, let’s face it, is just about all of us, lucrative lover that he was and all) left the Tatars governing from Crimea. Specifically, Bakchysaray.

But times a-change and the Russians eventually poopooed their dynasty, and Stalin shipped the remaining populations to Siberia. They’ve since been half-heartedly invited to return. You do see a percentage of Central Asian faces, but few and far between (that’s not intended to be a racist comment about the stereotype of Mongolians’ eyes being far apart).

For the most part you’d never know the influence they wielded over the region if not for the remarkable khan’s palace that still remains and illustrates this entry. The palace was also made famous in Alexander Pushkin’s poem, “The Fountain of Bakchisaray.” The fountain was allegedly built by the khan after his Polish lover died, so that the marble would, like him, go on weeping forever. Sissy. Pushkin’s placement of memorial roses on the fountain is a ritual continued today, as seen in the photo at top.

It’s a worthwhile stop if you’re in the Crimea, but I suggest you don’t take a bus that gets in late in the evening and then wander lost for an hour through the dirt roads until you come upon a few full hotels and possibly get lucky when one has a guest departing at 10pm who you can wait for. Just sayin’.

Khan's palace
Khan's palace interior
This photo could be a scene from a historical reenactment of the Soviet Union.
It brought me great sadness that this bar was closed while I waited for my train. I could've really gone for a beer and an apple.


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