Chechnya
About the Region
In recent 250 years Chechens have survived a lengthy war with the immense Russian Empire, the tumult of a revolution, and deportations to Kazakhstan and Siberia by Stalin.
Chechens didn’t return back home until the times of Khrushchev, and it was prohibited to settle in some highland areas up until the collapse of the USSR.

In the 1990s Chechnya was devastated by two ruthless wars. The capital of the republic Grozny was destroyed to the foundations, thousands of civilians were killed. New buildings, skyscrapers, and magnificent mosques were built where bombed-out ruins used to be. Now Grozny feels like a smaller version of Dubai, and only rare traces recall the past.
Chechnya today
Chechens can take care of their remaining cultural hermitage better than others – so much was destroyed during the war that what’s left is cherished zealously. Even a modest waterfall away from main highways can be reached by neat pedestrian trails, just like in Europe. The republic boasts the best highways in the Caucasus. It’s clean everywhere, you can safely walk around cities at any time, as Chechnya has one of the lowest crime rates in Russia, 83rd place out of the 85 regions.
Most Chechens adhere to Islamic mystic practice known as Sufism. ‘Dhikr’, or remembrance of God, is one of the most enchanting Sufi rituals. Worshippers recite a prayer to praise Allah, run in circles, tap tambourines, and play the ‘pondar’, Chechen violin. Dhikr varies in each brotherhood. Chechens are deeply reverent of this intangible heritage. On our tour “Religious rituals in North Caucasus” we’ll attend Dhikrs in different brotherhoods.
In the north of the republic, on the left bank of the Terek, some Cossack localities known as ‘stanitsas’ still exist. Cossacks hold on to their folklore, Orthodox faith, and essential components of hospitality – traditional feasts with wine, lard, and polyphonic singing. Starogladovskaya stanitsa features Leo Tolstoy Museum – the great writer was living there from 1851 to 1853.
Grozny
Grozny is a modern city permeated by diversity, with cozy coffees shops and broad avenues. Century-old buildings erected by the English who used to extract oil in Chechnya sit alongside hi-tech skyscrapers of Grozny City. Solo dancers of state ensembles give virtuoso performances of lezginka, while young hipsters play indie and electronic music.

The exuberance of national cuisine can be best appreciated in the capital, from flatbreads with various fillings to stomach stuffed with liver. In April Grozny hosts the festival of shashlyk (kebabs), and at the end of winter – the festival of ramson. Chechens are so fond of this wild leek that they use wherever they can, as a side dish to meat, in smoothies, or ice-cream.
useful information
You can fly to Grozny not only from Russian cities – Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, and Rostov-on-Don, but also from abroad – Istanbul, Sharja (UAE), and Bishkek. Every two days the only train arrives at the Grozny Station from Moscow, with the journey taking a little more than 40 hours.
Chechnya is part of Russia, so a Russian visa will be enough. Some sights, such as Tsoi-Pede, are located in the border area. You will need a permit to the border area, althoughjudging from our experience it’s very unlikely it will be issued. Of course we’ll give it a try anyway and submit the application to the Border Police.

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