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High up in the mountains: what is hidden in the village of Goor in Dagestan
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High up in the mountains: what is hidden in the village of Goor in Dagestan

The village of Goor is located in Dagestan and is often referred to as the “Land of Towers”. The settlement is located at a distance of about 160 km from the capital of Makhachkala. Goor is known for its rich original culture and unique architectural heritage, which, according to all existing criteria, claims to make the area a museum-reserve.

History and general information about the settlement

The history of Goor begins its countdown from about the end of the 17th century, although the exact time of construction of the complex is unknown. According to local legend, the original village was located in another place, inside the forest in the Zuleriib tract. Because of a fire set in one of the raids, residents moved to the Kunzatl tract and built the village anew. But even here they were overtaken by enemies. And even then people moved to a narrow plateau, where the old Goor village was founded..

Talking about Goor, it is impossible not to mention another ancient Avar settlement called Kahib. Very often tourists visit both villages in one trip. Distance between Goorom and the village of Kahib — about 4 km.

The villages are united by the fact that both of them eventually “migrated” to more comfortable gentle slopes. Old Kahib, like old Goor in Dagestan, is located a kilometer from the new settlements where people once moved. It is quite a long way to both villages, but once you find yourself on the narrow plateau of Goora, in the secluded Cahiba gorge, among the impressive landscapes, you will definitely not regret the efforts spent on the road.

High up in the mountains: what is hidden in the village of Goor in Dagestan

Sights, interesting facts and legends about the village of Goor

So, now specifically about Goor. The modern settlement is located on a slope adjacent to the narrow plateau where the village was originally. Previously, this slope was occupied by fields and gardens, whereas people themselves lived on a narrow plateau. Due to the greater adaptability of the lower slope to life in the second half of the 20th century, people gradually began to move. Height of the old The height above sea level is about 1750 m.

The narrow plateau has been a habitual habitat for residents for many years, no one was afraid to fall off a cliff and could sit quietly on its edge. The village even had a separate place for rural holidays (“ots-bai”, i.e. the beginning of the agricultural year, harvest, harvesting) and weddings. It was narrow, 10 meters wide, and right above the cliff, where the spectators were located, while the celebration itself took place below.

According to the stories of local residents, there was at least one accident here after all: many years ago, a girl herself stepped off a cliff due to the fact that her rejected fiance started bad rumors in the village. As the locals say, in this way she preserved the honor of the family. There are also legends telling about girls who rushed down from a cliff because of unhappy love.

Another path leads up from the old village. She goes to the far steep slope, which is all cut up by narrow terraces, where residents grew some crops. Looking at these terraces, it’s hard to imagine how people could work here, because even the path leading to the slope makes you feel at least a little anxious.

Goor Towers

The main attraction Goora is a tower complex. Once it consisted of 7 towers, they were built in the 16th and 18th centuries. Each was built and belonged to a separate tukhum (family). Adjacent to the tower was a two-story stone house with thick walls, which formed a whole defensive complex. They kept cattle on the ground floor, and they lived on the second floor themselves.

Only 3 towers have been preserved, and the lowest one can even be climbed. The stones from the last collapsed tower were enough for the construction of a large sports hall, so its height can only be guessed. Although according to some reports it reached 25 m .

It is easy to understand why the towers were built. Of course, to defend against raids from neighboring villages. And the raids were due to hunger. The fact is that on the slope where the old and new Goor are located, there is a special microclimate, thanks to which residents harvested a good harvest. It was he who was “hunted” by the neighbors, who were forced to rob because they themselves were left without food.

Thus, the tower complex erected here and residential buildings located on the top of the mountain, on the edge of a steep fortress, formed an impregnable defensive complex. It was possible to get here only from the north side by a barely noticeable cornice through a narrow gate, where guards were constantly on duty. The road was perfectly visible from above. Noticing the uninvited guests, the Goorians opened fire from their towers, and on one of them they lit a signal fire to notify the residents of neighboring villages.

Even the shape of the towers contributed to effective protection. Some narrowed upwards, which made it possible to throw stones from the roof during the siege of the village. They bounced a long distance and hit the enemy. In the towers themselves, food supplies were stored for a long time, so the villagers could withstand the siege for a long time.

Mosque and ruins of houses

The most preserved building here is a mosque—sanctuary, represented by a one-story structure with a row of semicircular windows. The exterior and interior of the mosque are very archaic, and it even has a separate place that used to be used for sacrifices.

Three local sheikhs were also buried here once – there is an old cemetery behind the mosque. And even before the 30s of the 2nd century, a large book with sheets of thin calfskin was kept in it. The main events in the village were recorded on the pages, but with the advent of militant atheism, the book was destroyed.

In addition to the towers and the mosque, the ruins of some houses have been preserved here. On their walls you can see ancient pagan signs in the form of crosses and swastikas, as well as petroglyphs depicting a Cretan labyrinth called dedalus — named after the builder of this labyrinth, Daedalus, who lived on the island of Crete, from where Theseus freed Ariadne. It is believed that such designations were used by residents as a talisman of their homes from destruction and hostile forces.

It is interesting that some manors — houses with outbuildings and a yard — faced one side on one side of the gorge, and the other on the opposite side. This is because the plateau in the old Goor area is very narrow. From the ruins, it can be understood that almost all the houses were the same. They were made of narrow stones, fitted to each other in size and shape. Moreover, despite the not too high culture of masonry among the peoples of the North Caucasus, you can see a beautiful example of a stone pattern in Goor.

“Troll language”

What exactly cannot be ignored is the “Troll language” in Goor. The narrow plateau where the settlement used to be is narrowing, and its left edge ends abruptly, forming the “Troll Language”, so named by tourists by analogy with the well-known “Troll Language” in Norway. It is here in Goor that lovers of colorful landscapes arrange photo shoots.

We have already talked about a similar observation deck in the article about the Sulak Canyon. Moreover, there are several such “languages” in the Goor at once, and in the outlines of one of them even the profile of a person is clearly discernible. One of the plumb lines is called the “Maiden Rock”. All because of those legends, according to which girls from this cliff threw themselves into the abyss because of unhappy love.

How to get to Goor

Now let’s figure out how to get to Goor from Vladikavkaz. The shortest way is through Kizilyurt, Buinaksk, Untsukul, Maidanskoe and Karadakh. The journey time will take about 6 hours.

MAP

A good paved road ends after the village of Hebda. A narrow gravel serpentine with sharp turns leads directly to the Goor. At the entrance to Hebda, near the cafe “Batlukh”, you need to turn left. This is where the gravel road leading to the settlement we need begins. And after Hebda, it will be easiest to drive an SUV that you can rent in Vladikavkaz.

As you can see on the map, the Goor Towers are located higher, in the old Goor. There is parking for 8-10 cars under one of the towers. Behind it there are covered verandas where you can have a snack and drink local herbal tea. Also, local guides often offer their services in the parking lot, who tell legends and even about their life back in the old Goor.

If you want to see mountainous Dagestan and see as much as possible without wasting time on public transport, it is best to rent a car with all-wheel drive. You will be able to see such beautiful places as the Sulak Canyon or the Sarykum dune, visit another ancient village called Gunib and not only. There is a whole world waiting for you in the Caucasus, which is worth plunging into at least once, because no words can describe all the beauty of this region.

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