In Antiquity

In the Middle Ages

Near Outlying Areas
Far Outlying Areas

Mangup-Kale cave town
Chufut-Kale fortress
Tepe-Kermen site
Bakla cave town
Kyz-Kermen fortress
Kachi-Kal'on cave monastery
Chelter-Marmara monastery
Shuldan monastery
Kyz-Kule site

Tepe-Kermen site
(fortress on a summit)
6th to 14th centuries

"…high, standing separately mountain in the form of sugar-loaf, with ruins of a fortress, probably of the most extreme antiquity, still visible on its top. The entire cliff is covered with countless number of grottos and artificial caves…" (Johann Erick Tunmann, 18th century)

Medieval site of Tepe-Kermen (Tartar for "fortress on a summit") is located in the vicinity of the present city of Bakhchisaray, at the top of a mountain which raises on 540 m above the sea level. On its south and west, there are precipices up to 12 m high.

Established in the 6th century A.D. simultaneously with many other Byzantine fortresses, Tepe-Kermen developed the features of a town by the 10th century, and declined in the 14th century. Tepe-Kermen differs from the other "cave towns" of the Crimea because of the great density of artificial caves (up to 300 in number) and relatively small area covered by the site of the town (about 1 hectare).

This is one of the worst studied sites of the Crimean Middle Ages. For example, it is still unknown how the dwellers of Tepe-Kermen solved the problem of water supplying. The scholars have presumably interpreted some caves as churches and defensive casemates with embrasures. The site still keeps the traces of residential buildings, which were erected above the ground. Some scholars incline to interpret Tepe-Kermen as a cave monastery; others explain it as a feudal fortification, which dominated over the valley of Kacha river.

© T. Yashaeva

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