27 Best Sights of Dagestan – descriptions and photos

Top 22 Best Sights of Dagestan

Dagestan is rich in interesting places. Among the sights of the republic are natural monuments that have no analogues in the country and the world. Skeptics may say that the mountains are beautiful, but can Dagestan surprise anyone else? It can and certainly will.

The republic has high mountain rivers, lakes and waterfalls. You can swim in the Caspian Sea, see ancient auls with unique architecture, meet local craftsmen. We offer descriptions of the 22 best sights of Dagestan, which are a must-see for the tourist.

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Are you going on vacation to the sea, the mountains or planning to rush in winter to the Kuzbass? You may benefit from purchasing a unified travel card for these trips. It’s valid for flights and buses, or trains and buses at the same time. Learn where you can go on vacation with a single ticket and how to buy it.

Attractions in Dagestan on the map

1. Sary-Kum Barkhan

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Do you remember the scene with Said buried up to his head from “The White Sun of the Desert”? It was filmed on the Sarykum barkhan in Dagestan. Scientists argue why a sand dune suddenly appeared 18 km from Makhachkala, surrounded by stone mountains. Sary-Kum has perfect sand, unique plants and animals typical of the desert. Therefore, for tourists paved a wooden eco-trail to the top of the barkhan – so as not to harm the natural monument.

2. “The second market”.

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Oriental bazaar in the center of the capital of Dagestan, not only the main shopping point for locals, but also a full-fledged tourist attraction. You should go here for the colorful pictures of trade and the most delicious fruits in the republic. At the same time to buy sweets for yourself and for gifts. You can spend hours haggling at the market.

3. Gamsutl

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The territory of the republic has its own lost Eldorado – the highland village of Gamsutl. No one lives there now, although in ancient times and even during Soviet times it was a prosperous aul. Now only ruins of old houses are left of it. The road to Gamsutl turns into a memorable journey, because one can reach the top only on foot. This is at least an hour climbing a steep serpentine road.

4. Gimry Tower

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There are ancient defensive constructions at the foot of Gimry ridge. Connoisseurs of history can recall episodes of the Caucasian War of the 19th century, in which this complex appeared. It is associated with the life of Imam Shamil, a fighter for the independence of mountaineers. Time has not spared the tower, today we see a new one, built in 1997, and have the opportunity to climb to the top and admire the gorge.

5. City beach in Makhachkala

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One of the favorite vacation spots of Makhachkala residents. The beach has free simulators, playgrounds, pavilions and recreational areas in the shade. Near the green pedestrian boulevard and the city garden. Swimming is prohibited because of the peculiarities of the city’s drains. For many years, the authorities have been promising to fix the situation, but so far everything remains the same. However, for recreation and sunbathing on the beach, the city beach is suitable.

6. Gunib

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A large village high in the mountains. There are hotels, cafes, and several places of interest here. For example, the monument “White Cranes”, which embodies the words of the famous song to the verses of Rasul Gamzatov. There is a small waterfall in the center of the village, and at its highest point is the Gunib fortress, which is called the last stronghold of Imam Shamil.

7. Irganayskoe reservoir

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It was decided to build a hydroelectric power station on the course of the Avarskoe Koysu River in the Soviet era. The works were completed in our days. Due to technical peculiarities of the hydroelectric power station, a picturesque reservoir was created. There are recreation areas, picnic places and a store on the bank of the reservoir.

8. The Stone Bowl

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Attraction in Dagestan, which is still rarely reached by tourists. Not far from the village of Matlas there is a picturesque gorge. Like a cocoon, the mountains shelter this place from the sun, so even on a hot summer day you should take warm clothes there. And do not come without comfortable shoes. To see the natural monument in all its glory, you have to climb the boulders.

9. Karadakh Gorge

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To get to this mysterious place one has to walk along a narrow isthmus over the river spillway. Even before Christ the mighty mountain stream was flowing here. Now it has almost dried up, but left behind a unique relief. Between the narrow passages of the gorge, the boulders of stone hang out. You want to take pictures of them every 10 meters.

10. Kubachi

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Traveling around Dagestan, you will constantly come across signs “Kubachi”. This is how stores tell you that you can buy products of artisans from this village. If you like jewelry and silverware, be sure to visit here. There are also several museums in Kubachi, where they hold master classes in handicrafts and tell you about the traditions of the peoples of the republic.

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11. Naryn-Kala

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This is one of the best museums of Dagestan – a fortress overhanging the ancient Derbent. It will take you at least an hour to walk around just its part and walls in the open air. Do not spare money for a tour: there are people working here who are ready to relentlessly tell tourists about the history of the monument. In addition to the museum, there are recreation areas, cafes, and a souvenir shop.

12. “The Salmanovs’ Garden

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Outstanding example of agrotourism in Russia. An ordinary garden in the mountains, where they grow fruit, the family turned it into a brand of their native land. The vine-covered gazebos are set up with generous dastarkhanas. If you are not hungry, you can drink tea from a real samovar on the fire or a cup of coffee made on the sand. The best time to visit the garden is in the second half of summer, when the harvest begins. The hosts give tourists a basket and allow them to pick all kinds of fruits. The local pride is peaches.

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The best and most beneficial time for recreation is summer. This can be fully felt at the resorts of the Caucasian Mineral Waters. Everything treats and restores strength: special programs in health resorts Pyatigorsk, Essentuki, Zheleznovodsk and Kislovodsk, the unique mineral water, summer warm clean air and stunning nature. This can be said about all four resort towns of the CMS. Learn about features of summer rest in each of them, choose and plan a trip for summer already now!

13. Lenin Square

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The center of the capital of Dagestan. Opposite the monument to Lenin are the administration of the republic, a mosque and an Orthodox church. Nearby are several public gardens and a green boulevard named after Rasul Gamzatov. On weekends during the summer, the square is the venue for free concerts. There are several cafes and souvenir shops.

14. Salta waterfall

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It is a magnificent sight: water is flying from the mountain top right into the cave. Tourists approach the attraction by sneaking through a non-handmade tunnel. Unfortunately, in recent years, Salta waterfall dries up, and you can observe the flow only after heavy rains. However, good weather is not a reason to refuse visiting this natural monument. Extreme hike on slippery stones and bizarre vaults of the cave awaits you.

15. Sulak Canyon

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The canyon stretches across half of the country, so you can look at it from different points. Book a boat ride on the Sulak River to admire at least part of the natural monument from the water. Fans of extreme sports can go on a jeep tour: the route will take you through the mountain off-road.

16. Terraces of the aul Chokh

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On the way to the mountain aul Chokh you can admire the terraces. They were once used for farming: the rocks were removed and covered with earth, and gardens were cultivated on them. Now the terraces are abandoned, but they look very picturesque. In the warm season, the artificial steps on the slopes are covered with green grass.

17. Tobot

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Several waterfalls between the villages of Hunzah and Arani. They flow into the river, which flows further along the Tobot River valley. A picturesque place where you can make more than a dozen vivid shots, and on the slope you can have a picnic. There are guest houses here, too.

18. Central Juma Mosque

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Its second name is “Yusuf Bey Jami”. The main mosque in Makhachkala and one of the largest Islamic temples in Europe. It contains up to 15 thousand worshippers. Several thousand more can pray in the park and on the square in front of the mosque. Inside there are beautiful chandeliers and ornamented white walls. Remember that before entering the mosque you have to take off your shoes, no shorts allowed. It is better for men to wear a shirt, but you can also wear a neat T-shirt. Women – in a scarf and closed clothes, to enter from a separate entrance.

19. Chirkey Reservoir

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The largest artificial lake in the North Caucasus. Here you can swim, fish and go boating. Sulak River flows into the reservoir and continues its course. Right in the rock are the control halls of Chirkei hydroelectric power station. If you drive from the reservoir along the highway in the direction of the village of Dubky – there is a great view of the Sulak Canyon.

20. Extreme park Matlas

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Not a bad tourist location, which is actively developing. There are horseback rides, buggies, and a ziplines attraction: daredevils are tied to a steel rope by an insurance rope and sent flying over an abyss. In the park you can just admire the stunning views of the mountains and waterfall, there is a reconstruction of an ancient mosque and a monument to Hadji Murat. Working canteen, you can stay for a couple of days, renting a house.

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The “Moon” cranoplane will impress anyone. The flying ship occupies 74 meters on the beach near Derbent. This giant was once part of the Russian Navy and could take off and land in a 5-point storm on the water. Since 2020 the “Lun” is the centerpiece of the new “Patriot” military park under construction on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

22. The 8th shop of the plant “DagDiesel

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The abandoned shop No. 8 of the DagDiesel plant is located in the Caspian Sea. Even from the shore the huge structure looks simply fantastic. Not for nothing the locals and tourists nicknamed it “Caspian Ford Boyard”. Today, the former testing station, where torpedoes used to be tested, is a famous landmark in Dagestan. Excursions to “DagDiesel” are an extreme adventure, and sometimes romantic evenings are also organized here.

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“Brother, if the ponts were glowing, Dagestan would be visible from space!”

The correspondent of Komsomolskaya Pravda tests the Caspian republic, talking to the locals and finding out: is it possible to go here to rest, what you must know if you are going to Dagestan, what to take with you and, of course, what to bring back.

Why come to Dagestan and why not fall in love with it

Every year more and more tourists come to this amazing region and bring a lot of vivid impressions. About the magnificent nature, mountains, rivers and the cleanest air. Ancient cities, where you can not only see but also touch the history. The tastiest dishes of national cuisine. And, of course, the cordiality and Caucasian hospitality of the locals. We have collected the main reasons why you should visit Dagestan. Come, and you will definitely want to add your own to this list.

Answers to Popular Questions about Dagestan

There are many travel agencies in the republic, organizing excursions to the most popular sights. You can also use the services of a guide-driver (from 6500 rubles per tour) or rent a car (from 1800 to 2500 rubles per day).

The most popular are edible gifts: Urbech and herbal teas, you can buy them at numerous markets. Of memorabilia, the hallmark of Dagestan are metal items – knives and silver jewelry.

When traveling in the republic one must follow the most usual tourist rules. Of the peculiarities we can note the fact that Dagestan is a predominantly Muslim republic, so women should avoid provocative and open clothes, men should preferably walk in pants, not shorts.

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Many people, when they hear “Caucasian Mineral Waters”, immediately imagine health resorts at the foot of the mountains and healing water. But this region is not just for health. From here you can take and a lot of souvenirs – these you will not find anywhere else. This world-famous Kilovodsk porcelain, and healing cosmetics, and Caucasian daggers and, of course, a huge selection of furs. We tell you where you can buy all this and how not to get lost in a huge variety of products.

How to get there

Makhachkala International Airport (MCX) is located 20 km from the capital of Dagestan and 8 km from Kaspiysk. From Moscow several flights arrive here daily from Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo. There are marshrutkas which go to Makhachkala, Kaspiysk, Derbent, Izberbash at the exit from the arrivals hall. There is no timetable, they leave as they fill up. There are local cab drivers, but it’s cheaper to call through an aggregator. Information service of airport +7 (8722) 55-55-00.

The railway station is located on the coast of the Caspian Sea in the historical part of Makhachkala (10 Emirova St.). There is a stop of public transport at the exit. From Moscow trains leave from the Paveletskiy railway station every day. The information service of the station in Makhachkala: +7 (8722) 99-34-20.

Direct buses from Moscow to Makhachkala depart daily from “Kotelniki” bus station. There are many private buses which also carry passengers between the two capitals. There is only one bus station in Makhachkala – “Severny” (prospect Akushinskogo, 100) and two bus stations: “Yuzhnaya” (prospect Amet-Khan Sultana, 344) and “Piramida” (prospect Peter the First, 38a).

The distance between Moscow and Makhachkala on the highway 1800-1900 km. You may take the M-4 Don toll road and then turn to Volgodonsk, Elista and get to Dagestan from Kalmykia along the Caspian coast. An alternative to the M-4 toll road is the Tambov-Volgograd-Elista route, and then you need to drive to the coast again.

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30 Main Sights of Dagestan

The main treasures of Dagestan are the nature and the villages which have kept the traditions of their ancestors. The mountainous terrain is rich in amazing objects, be it a natural bridge, or an underground waterfall. There are spectacular views everywhere in the republic, as there are quite a few islands of untouched nature. As for the settlements, here they honor the history and continue to engage in folk crafts.

Some villages have a specialty, such as making and painting ceramic dishes. You can buy it in stores, and especially valuable items can be seen in museums of large cities. Although most of the population are Muslims, representatives of other religions also have a place to pray and at the same time to appreciate the beauty and preservation of old churches and temples.

The most interesting and beautiful places in Dagestan

What to see and where to go? List of the best places for tourism and recreation!

Naryn-Kala Fortress

A citadel built in Derbent in the 8th-16th centuries. It was built on a hill as close as possible to the Caspian Sea. Its direct purpose – to block the narrow coastal passage to the land of the Persians. The area is about 4.5 hectares. It has an irregular shape. Each new ruler added something to the appearance of the fortress. Inside the perimeter many buildings were preserved including baths. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Kubachi .

The village in Dakhadaevsky district. First mentioned in the chronicles in the V century. Since ancient times it has been known for its craftsmen, including manufacturers of ringed jackets. Nowadays they carve wooden and stone, but metalware draws tourists’ attention. Weapons, military armor in the ancient manner, household items – all this can be found in Kubachi. Works an art factory, and with it a museum.

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Kezenoi-Am

A lake formed by damming part of a river. Refers not only to the territory of Dagestan, but also to Chechnya. The water level fluctuates depending on the season, so the surface area is unstable: from 170 to 230 hectares. In 2015, opened a multi-purpose tourist cluster: cottages, sports complex, bath house, boat station, etc. Since 2017 there is a sailing regatta. Regional Natural Monument.

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Hotels by the sea and guest houses in the mountains of Dagestan.

Below is a list of places to stay with high ratings and positive reviews from guests. By following the links you can book a hotel, find out the current prices and details.

Glamping “Old Sivukh”, Gumbetovsky district.

Hotel complex “Jami”, Makhachkala.

Guest house “Salta”, Gunibsky district, Salta village.

Hotel “Caravan Saray”, Makhachkala city.

Guest house “Kubachi Uyut”, Dakhadaevsky district, Kubachi village.

Golden Beach” resort hotel, Derbent city.

Holiday “Santa-Barbara”, Gunib district, Gunib village.

Hotel “Chindirchero”, Akusha district, Ginta village.

Chirkey hydropower plant.

Put into operation in the mid-70s. It was built on the Sulak River and is the most powerful hydroelectric power plant in the North Caucasus. It forms a water reservoir in the Chirkei Gorge. A road runs along it to the dam. At the station created a fish farm, which specializes in the cultivation of trout.

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Derbent Dzhuma Mosque

It is the oldest not only in Russia, but also in the CIS. It was built in the VIII century. It was repeatedly rebuilt and changed externally, including in the 14th century it was restored after an earthquake. For several years there was a prison in the mosque, but in 1943 it has been returned to believers. In the courtyard there are four multi-year plane-trees that are recognized as a monument of nature. They are visible from many points of the city.

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Dürk Cave

The entrance of the cave is on the precipice of Darkdag Mountain. There is another name – Khrustilskaya (because of the proximity to the village of the same name). In total, the cave has seven rooms, but access to five of them is blocked by rubble. The remaining two have electricity, they are located above each other and are connected by wooden stairs. It is believed that the sword of Maslama, a warlord from the Arab world who preached Islam, was kept in Dürk.

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Dagestan Reserve

It occupies 19,000 hectares in two regions of the republic: Tarumovsky and Buynaksky. It was founded in 1987 to protect the migration routes of birds from human influence. This is especially true of the Kizlyar Gulf. The most protected and rare species are flamingos and pelicans (pink and curly). Air and water temperature here is traditionally above zero, which is favorable for vegetation.

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Barkhan Sary-kum.

One of the highest on the planet. Location – the outskirts of Makhachkala. The height is about 250 m. Its shape and size are considered to be changing due to winds blowing and bringing layering. Its exact age is unknown, but it is counted in hundreds of thousands of years. Many legends and myths are associated with the barkhan, a piece of the desert. One of them says that so much sand was shaken out of his shoes by a legendary giant.

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Sulak Canyon

Refers to the valley of the river Sulak. The length is about 53 km. The depth is approaching 2 thousand meters, which makes the canyon the second deepest in the world. Here come for fishing, especially many fans to sit with a fishing rod in the vicinity of Chirkei reservoir. To see the canyon you can take a boat trip. And climbers with appropriate equipment go down to the very bottom of the canyon.

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Kala Koreysh

A village and a fortress at the same time. It is believed that it was built by the tribe in which the prophet Muhammad was born. The location on the top of the mountain in the Dakhadaevsky district was very convenient strategically and remains so today. There are several mountain rivers in the area, and their channels are an additional barrier for uninvited guests. There is an ancient cemetery and ruins of a caravanserai nearby.

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Karadakh Gorge

Has many names, including the “Gate of Wonders. The width of the canyon varies from 2 to 5 m, the length – 400 m, and the height of the walls – about 170 m. The canyon was created by the Kvartakh River, which has erosion-resistant rock and created such a unique natural monument. On the way to the canyon there are observation decks, and at the exit – small bridges built the century before last.

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Shalbuzdag

The peak in the mountain system of the Caucasus. The height above sea level is more than 4 thousand meters. Small rivers flow on its slopes. Snow cover is partial, as there is not much eternal snow in Dagestan. That is why glaciers are found only less than a kilometer before the peak. Refers to the number of sacred mountains and is actively visited by pilgrims. There are especially many people here from mid to late summer.

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Waterfall Tobot.

Located near the village of Arani. The gorge, from the top of which the water falls with a thundering roar, forms a Latin letter “V”. There is no consensus on the height of the waterfall: researchers name numbers from 50 to 100 m. At the bottom the water quickly goes away, not forming natural baths. But on sunny days, the rocks shimmer from the splash and refraction of light in different colors. Sightseeings nearby: Khunzakh fortress.

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Samursky forest

Grows in Magaramkent district. Partially owned by Azerbaijan. The Russian part is a part of Samurski State Nature Reserve. Its area is more than 11 thousand hectares. It borders with the Caspian Sea. The area consists of relict temperate-subtropical trees. Rare species: nut-bearing lotus, orfris, Mediterranean turtle, white-tailed eagle and others.

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Gamsutl

Abandoned village in Gunib district. There used to be school, hospital and other municipal buildings. Electric poles stand inactive, the road ends a kilometer away from the houses. Most of the buildings are uninhabitable. The color of the brickwork almost matches the color of the cliffs, so the buildings appear to be built into the mountain. The last permanent resident died in 2015.

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Church of St. Grigoris

Built in Nyugdi in 1916 to commemorate the martyrdom of the Christian educator. It belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. During the Soviet time the building was declared a historical monument, but nobody took care of its values, and they were stolen. In the XXI century the restoration of the interior decoration which was lost during the years of desolation started. Since 2011, services have been held regularly.

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Salta Waterfall

Location – the village of Salta. The only underground waterfall in the republic. The Saltinka River goes underground not far from the village and falls from a height of 20 meters even lower into a rift. Thanks to the smooth walls of the canyon and the constant moisture, the light here is reflected many times and colors the water in different shades. In rainy weather, the flow is particularly strong. At the bottom you can find the bones – the remains of animals that have fallen into the gap.

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Balhar

A sparsely populated village in Akushinsky district. Gained fame because of the local folk crafts. For the most part, craftsmen are engaged in the production of works of art and household items made of ceramics. The residents specialize in jewelry, vases, and dishes. There are also special ways of painting them. Besides, one can buy hand-woven carpets and children’s toys made in various techniques.

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Aul in Gunib district. The place has been inhabited since ancient times. A Neolithic site and remains of a settlement dated 6,000 B.C. were found in this area. It is believed that the area is one of the first in the region began farming. Despite its modest size, the village is home to many prominent thinkers, scientists and athletes. Every year the village day is celebrated on a grand scale, as well as religious festivals.

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The Central Juma Mosque in Makhachkala

The main mosque of the capital of Dagestan. When building it was guided by the plan of the Blue mosque, located in Istanbul, and the project was sponsored by Turkish Muslims. It was opened for believers in 1997, and in 2007 the premises were expanded to accommodate more worshippers at a time. On the green carpet there is a special pattern – markings for the convenience of the prayers. Quranic verses are written on the walls.

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Agrakhan Sanctuary

It was formed in 1983 on the territory of Kizlyar, Babayurtovsky and Kirovsky regions and occupies an area of 39 thousand hectares. Since the area belongs to the Terek delta, the local ecosystem is unique: the high humidity has affected the growth of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants. The protection of the territory should help the populations to recover: for decades, animals, fish and birds have been exterminated by poachers.

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Akhulgo

Refers to the Untsukulsky district. The translation of the name is “mountain of calling”. The memorial commemorates the events of the Caucasus War, especially the assault in 1839. It opened in 2017 on top of the mountain of the same name, on the site of the former fortress. There is a museum that tells the history of the battles, the exploits of the peoples and the biography of Imam Shamil. Among other things, the area is also visited by pilgrims, commemorating the fallen highlanders.

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Tlyaratinsk Zakaznik

It is part of the Dagestan Reserve. The current status was given to the territory of more than 83 thousand hectares in 1986. The staff of the reserve closely monitors the recovery of populations of both predators and herbivores. Tourists must have their passport with them, as there is a border nearby. Attraction nearby: the reservoirs, distinguished by the emerald hue of the water surface, called “Plateau of falling asleep lakes”.

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Kuzhniki Natural Bridge

The natural arch is located in Tabasaran district. The height is about 50 m, width – about 6 m, the length of the “overlap” – about 100 m. The location above the gorge makes the views from here very spectacular. This area is in the protected zone, and the bridge itself is a natural monument of local importance. In addition, for the residents of the nearby villages the arch is sacred, so one should behave appropriately nearby.

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Dagestan Museum of Fine Arts

It was founded in 1958 and now bears the name of P.S. Gamzatova, under whose administration it flourished and became famous in the Soviet Union. Originally detached from the museum of local lore. Part of the collection came from the capital, part – from private collections. In addition to paintings the funds consist of decorative and applied art. The museum has a lecture hall, a small cinema and a souvenir shop.

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Museum of Carpet and Applied Art

Opened in Derbent in 1982. It occupies the building of an old Armenian church. In addition to carpets, the collection includes other products of local craftsmen, such as ceramic, copper, silver, wood or iron. Accordingly, the expositions vary. But the tour is most often taken through the entire museum, as the funds are not too large. The exhibits are brought from different auls of the republic.

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The Fortress of Seven Brothers and One Sister

Built in the 7th-8th centuries near the village of Khuchni, on a hill above a gorge. From the outside, it looks higher. This is due to the fact that originally it was built as a two-storey building, but the first floor is now almost completely covered with earth. The thickness of the walls and their indestructibility are impressive. Not only the masonry, but also the loopholes have been preserved. The name is associated with the legend of the sister, who betrayed her brothers, who defended their native land.

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The Cathedral of the Assumption in Makhachkala

The only orthodox temple in the city. It was built in the early years of the last century. After the revolution it was closed, but in the 40s services were resumed. In 2004 the cathedral was slightly expanded by adding a side chapel named after Alexander Nevsky. Although the number of parishioners decreased because of the outflow of Orthodox Christians from the republic, it was decided to repaint the walls, update the iconostasis and landscape the surrounding area.

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Monument to the Russian Teacher

The name is unofficial, the memorial is dedicated to the representatives of the Russian people who came to Dagestan and dedicated their lives to the development of the republic. It was installed in 2006 in Makhachkala. A wide low staircase leads to a platform with a 10-meter monument (a female figure with a book in one hand and leaning on a globe with the other). Above it the impressive beams close up as a pyramid.

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The Gunib Fortress

Located near the village of the same name. The exact time of its construction is unknown but the most important events in the history of the fortress fall on the period of the Caucasian War. Russian troops took it in 1859. The last stronghold of Shamil. Later artillerymen began to quarter here. Now only ruins and part of the wall remain, which looks colourful and imposing. The masonry is cut off near the abyss.

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