Before we answer that question, the news for context. Earlier this month, the Russian military stormed the Crimean peninsula in southeastern Ukraine. Where in the world is Crimea, you may ask. Here’s an all-too-brief history.
The Autonomous Republic of Crimea occupies most of the Crimean peninsula, sharing it with the Ukrainian city of Sevastopol. The region offers Russia its only all-season access to the Mediterranean Sea and is of strategic importance. The Crimean Tatars, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, were expelled by the erstwhile Soviet Union’s Stalinist regime to Central Asia but they returned to the peninsula after the USSR disintegrated.
Bakhchysarai is a city in Central Crimea, southern Ukraine. It is the administrative centre of the Bakhchysarai district and the former capital of the Crimean Khanate, an Islamic state ruled by Crimean Tatars from 1441 to 1783, when it came under Russian rule. The Khans were descended from the grandson of Genghis Khan.
Bakhchysarai, located in a narrow river valley, contains many buildings of historic and architectural importance. Today the Tatars, who are mostly Muslims, make up approximately 12% of the Crimean population and are deeply wary of growing Russian nationalism that could propel Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Take a tour of Bakhchysarai.