Sunday, September 12, 2010

Crimean Tatars

This is a detail of the Khan's Palace in Bakhchisarai, Crimea. The Crimean Tatars controlled this region until the time of Catherine the Great. A Turkic tribe, they converted to Islam in the 14th century and ruled as vassals of the Ottoman Empire. They were noted for raids into Russian territory, and even occupied Moscow briefly in the 16th century.
The Khan's Palace is one of the loveliest examples of Islamic architecture in this region, and a major tourist draw of Crimea. Today guides at the palace include a number of Crimean Tatars, although their ancestors were deported en masse by Stalin during World War II to Uzbekistan and other far-flung parts of the Soviet Union.
Many of them and their descendants have returned to Crimea, only to find their former homes occupied by Russians. However, re-settlement seems to have been much easier for this ethnic group than for some others, notably Chechens.


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