The Big Khan Mosque is located on the Palace Square. It is one of the largest mosques in the Crimea and one of the first buildings of the Khan's palace. The mosque was built in 1532.
It is possible to visit the Mosque. The entry is free of charge but donations are welcome. Be aware to get the special coat if you have too short skirt or shorts. There is also possible to visit a small mosque and the cemetery but both are extra paid and not included in the ticket to the Khan's Palace.
Inside the palace is the only surviving harem of the four that were traditionally attached to the palace and belonged to the khan's wives.
You can see a great interior of the harem and opposite the building of the harem is the Falcon Tower.
The Fountain of Tears was commissioed for the last Crimean khan, Giri. He fekt in love with a Polish girl, captured and enslaved in his harem. When she died, the khan began to weeping day and night. Worried important state matters were being neglected, the court ordered the Persian master craftsman Omer to build the fountain to give an outlet to the Khan's grief. Originally placed by the girl's thomb, it was move to the courtyard by Catherine the Grate.
On visiting the fountain, Russian writer Alexander Pushkin was so moved by the tragedy he wrote a poem "The Bakhchysaray fountain".
The palace was erected by Russian and Ukrainian slaves in the 16th century under the direction of Persian, Ottoman and Italian architects. The structure still resembles its original state.
The palace was a home of Crimean Khans. The walled enclosure contains a mosque, a harem, a cemetery, living quarters and gardens. The palace is not only a unique example of Crimean Tatar architecture but a testament to a strong and enduring community . Some of the rooms have been made to look `lived-in' in Tatar style.
The entrace fee is around 6 Euro
The Palace is the most famous and the most popular site of Bakhchisaraj.
Khan's residence for several centuries was a notable political center, and the palace itself repeated styles of the Topkapi Palace, demonstrating the power and ambitions of the Crimean Khan. Construction of the palace began in the early XVI century - and it was the beginning of the city around it. Two buildings of that time can be seen to this day - this is a Great Khan's mosque and baths Sarah-Guzel, dating back to 1532 year.
In 1736 during the Russian-Turkish war most of the palace was almost completely burned. So today's Khan's palace was built later - in 1740's - 50's (Of course, not as majestic as has been).
In XIX century the Palace was constantly repaired and improved, some buildings were destroyed.
The most interesting things in the Palace today - patios with flowers and fountains, murals, stone carving. Don't miss Museum of History and Culture of the Crimean Tatars. It's really worth visiting!
Bakhchysaray is very small - you can walk around the Old town for 2 or 3 hours. The streets are not very clean but I think it's just safe here - we had walks late in the evening and I can't remember any unpleasant story.
The walk is interesting - the streets keep a long history of the town. And some places are really magic!
the mosque of the palace... it remembers us the Tatar rule in Crimea
the Tatars are the only muslim ethnic group in Ukraine, and they are the one
the Tars (just like the Turks and the Azeris) came from Central Asia... and got Eastern European lands since some centuries ago
We passed Uspensky Monastery on our hike up to see Chufut-Kale. We didn't see anyone going inside so all I know is what is in my guide book, the church which is built into the limestone rock by Byzantine monks in the 8th or 9th century. There is a healing fountain outside the monastery with a very plain "no photograph" sign which didn't stop the other tourists up there from trying to take photos and from guards yelling at them. It is an active monastery, we did see some monks as we passed by.
It takes 15-20 minutes to climb up to see the monastery from where the #2 marshrutky leaves you and another 15-20 minutes to reach Chufut-Kale. The path up to the monastery is mostly paved, the path to Chufut Kale is a little rougher.
Chufut-Kale is the most visited of all of Crimea's cave cities, presumably because it is easy to combine with the Khan's Palace on a daytrip. It's a bit of a climb from where the bus lets you off (Lonely Planet says 1.5 km), be sure to bring sensible shoes unless you are Ukrainian and possess the uncanny skill to balance on stilletto hills and climb steep paths at the same time. Once you get to the top, ignore the tin roofed structure and climb yet a little more to where they have an admission booth (do they climb up that every day?!?!), you fork over 30 uah to worker #1 who sells you the ticket and worker #2 who rips the ticket and head inside.
The caves themselves aren't really much to see and it's hard to get a sense of how people lived here by seeing just empty caves but the views over the valley are spectacular, especially behind the mausoleum. You can't really get lost, there are yellow directional arrows and you can't wander off the path too far and you'll go plummeting over a cliff. And at the other end of the caves, there is another closed gate with workers #3 and #4. I was surprised to find a toilet and cafe up at the top, I didn't use the toilet as I figured it would be pretty scary, I imagine you will find workers #5 and #6 manning the toilet and the cafe.
Chufut-Kale was believed to have been settled in the 6th century by a Sarmatian tribe, the name Chufut Kale means Judaic or Jewish Fortress, the last inhabitants of the cave city were Jewish Karaites who left in the mid 19th century.
The final interior stop on the tour was the Living Rooms which were in a separate building from the Divan Hall, Summer Pavilion etc. This is the section of the complex where the Khan lived and where they held official ceremonies
The Khan's Palace is in Bakhchysaray for two reasons, the first is that Bakhchysaray was the capital of the Crimean Khanate between the 15th-18th century. More important is that it is STILL standing because Catherine the Great spared it during the mass destruction of the towns mosques, reportedly because she found this one romantic.
Today you can visit the Palace on a self guided tour (40 uah) that visits the Divan Hall, summer pavilion, small mosque, the Golden Fountain and Fountain of Tears, harem and living rooms. There are signs in English and you can also purchase a guide from the ticket booth for 15 uah.
The main mosque was not open to visitors when we were there, both of my guidebooks suggested that it was open at times.
The next stop after the Fountain Courtyard was the Harem where the wives and concubines of the Khan lived, the word Harem means "forbidden" in Arabic, the women weren't allowed to communicate with strangers without the Khan's permission so they were secluded in this section of the palace.
There were originally four harem buildings at this palace, this is the only one that survived. The 1st room that we entered is the Still Room, the 2nd is the living room and the 3rd and most elegant is the reception room. The women could leave these rooms and go into the adjoining courtyard which was concealed with high surrounding walls, they could also ascend the Falcon Tower to have a look around the complex.
From the small mosque, you head into the Fountain Courtyard where you will find the most famous part of the Palace, the Fountain of Tears. It is said that Khan Krim Giray fell in love with a Polish girl that he added to his harem, she did not return his affection and unable to cope with the life in the harem, died after a year. The Khan cried day and night for years and the fountain was built to give the Khan an outlet for his grief and so that he could return to handling important state matters. The Fountain became even more famous when Russian poet Alexander Pushkin wrote the poem "The Bakhchisarai Fountain" and placed two roses on top of the fountain, yellow for chagrin and red for love. The poem, and the romantic story, are reportedly what kept this Palace intact when Catherine the Great ordered the destruction of the area's mosques.
You will also find the Golden Fountain in this room, it's prettier than the Fountain of Tears but with no flowery story to accompany it.
The roses on the day we were there were red and peach, did they run out of yellow roses or were they cured of their chagrin?
From the Summer Pavilion, you head into the small palace mosque, one of the earliest structures in the Khan's Palace, built in the 16th century. The Khan, his relatives and officials would pray here five times a day which was the custom in the Moslem religion.
After leaving the Divan Hall, you pass into the Summer Pavilion, built at the turn of the 18th century and largely rebuilt after the fire of 1736.
This room was where the Khan relaxed after dealing with state affairs with the Divan Council, originally it was open on three sides and adjoined a garden.