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Vladikavkaz

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Vladikavkaz is the capital city of North Ossetia and is a major transit hub for the Caucasus, lying on the Georgian Military Highway.

Understand[edit]

Vladikavkaz, founded as a Russian garrison in 1784, is a pleasant, highly walkable city of about 300,000 which serves as an excellent base for exploring the region.

Get in[edit]

Train service from Moscow and other southern regional cities such as Rostov daily. Four flights from Moscow daily including Aeroflot from Sheremetyevo, S7 Airlines out of Domodedovo Airport, and Pobeda out of Vnukovo. Several flights per week from St. Petersburg. Direct international flights (Istanbul, Dubai and Baku) in and out of Mineralny Vody which is three hours away by taxi (3,000 rubles).

Get around[edit]

Public transit is cheap and reliable - tram, bus, minibuses (marshrutki). The Uber and Yandex mobile apps provide efficient taxi service which is cheaper than regular taxis.

Little English is spoken, so do not expect to be able to comfortably move around the city without brushed-up knowledge of Russian or assistance from a translator.

City phone code is 8672.

See[edit][add listing]

Vladikavkaz is the ideal base for a short break in the mountains. A charming city, with easy access to spectacular mountains. Vladikavkaz could be the Chamonix of Russia, with a great climate, and friendly people it has the potential.

The Monument to Glory (Аллея Славы) memorial complex is located on the Southern end of Prospekt Kosta. It includes a beautiful mosaic depicting the history of WWII, a statue of Catherine II granting a charter, a small Soviet version of Trajan's column again with the history of WWII, a bust of Stalin, several elborate Soviet style graves, and a small but poignant Beslan memorial.

The Mukhtarov Mosque on the West bank of the Terek was built in 1908 and has an unusual and elegant design, with a tall blue dome and ornate pink and white minarets. A scrolling digital sign on the facade announces that all are welcome to come inside and see the mosque!

The most striking feature of North Ossetia is, of course, the mountains, the Tsey and Fiagdon canyons in particular. Historically, all non-Russian citizens were forbidden to travel outside of Vladikavkaz, Beslan, Alagir and Ardon by government regulations, but today (2013) travel to Tsey and Fiagdon is allowed. There are military bases near the Georgian border and the areas around them are are still restricted, and the roads generally manned by police. A special border permit is required to climb peaks actually on the border with Georgia. If you want to visit the mountains, you'll need to find a taxi driver, tour agency, or some friendly locals with a car to take you. There is no public transportation. Ask your hotel about arranging a trip for you- though they might still believe the area is closed to foreigners.

A side trip to Beslan (easily done at the start or end of a trip by plane, since the airport is in Beslan) to see the memorial at School #1 and the cemetery is a bit depressing, but really an essential piece in understanding the still troubled North Caucasus region.

Travel Restrictions[edit]

Do not attempt to travel to Mozdok as it is forbidden to foreigners because of the military base.

Do[edit][add listing]

Enjoy a stroll along the river or the central pedestrian street- Prospekt Mira- lined with cute cafes and restaurants. The city hosts a few small museums and galleries in the area of the prospekt, and a magnificent statue of Lenin. At the corner of Mayakovskaya stands a statue of the writer Mikhail Bulgakov, who lived in Vladikavkaz from 1920-21 where he launched his career. His house is two blocks down on the left, marked by a mural evoking his masterpiece, Master and Margarita.

The city makes a great base for day trips to the mountains, see Get Out for Tsey Valley, Fiagdon Valley, and the Georgian Military Road

Buy[edit][add listing]

"Alan" souvenirs including traditional headgear, daggers, etc.

Pirog (пиро́г)[edit]

North Ossetia is famous in Russia for it's pie, the Pirog (пиро́г). Available in meat, cheese, potato, or beetroot leaf. You should try it. You may wonder what all the pizza boxes people are packing on the plane to Moscow are about, it's pirogi for the huddled masses in Moscow.

Wines[edit]

Unlike in South Ossetia, wine is not produced n the north and is generally expensive and less common than other alcoholic beverages. Oddly Italian wines tend to be cheaper than the nearby Georgian alternatives.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Wander down Prospekt Mira for a myriad of good cafes and restaurants:

  • Limoncello -- a wide range of excellent dishes including Italian, Japanese, and local cuisine.

+7 867 240-36-60 Prospekt Mira 45

  • Lookoom -- Uzbek and local cuisine, pleasant decor with a Central Asian motif.

8 (867) 240-57-52 Prospekt Mira 12:00-23:00

  • Genatsvale - Excellent Georgian food and woody decor. Loud music on weekends.

+7 (8672) 64-89-89 Karla Marksa, 32 11.00-24.00

  • Mangal. Good grill restaurant near the university with a summer terrace.

+7 (8672) 40-34-24 Vatutina, 50 12:00-24:00

  • Koyroi - International cuisine, nice terrace overlooking the river.

+7 (8672) 70-03-00 Kotsoyeva, 26 12:00-24:00

  • Vincenzo Cafe - A string of cafes now scattered across the old part of town offering great coffee and cake.

A full list of cafes, restaurants is available here: http://www.e-osetia.ru/rubr.php?id=90&s=0 Some advertisements here as well: www.vladcafe.ru

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Most hotels will charge a small registration fee if you do not have a Russian passport.

Hotel Plazma Offers newly renovated rooms for about 1600 rubles, and pretty poor quality older rooms for about 1200. They also rent rooms by the hour...which seems a bit sketchy, but the owner, Aslan, is a great fellow and he explained that it is not (as one might assume) facilitating prostitution, but instead offers a more reasonable option to young couples who would come in, pay for a night, and use the room for an hour or two. The owner said he felt guilty charging them a whole night, and then renting the room out again once they checked out after just a couple of hours. Not the nicest place, but the staff and management are stellar. Also has a small restaurant and an (always empty) discotech. 52 Ulitsa Markova (you can tell the taxi driver the corner of Markova and Chkalova) [1]

Hotel Amran 28 Ulitsa Markova [2]


Hotel Imperial Directly on Prospekt Mira, the central street of the city. Comfortable, recommended over other options, little bit pricier. Restaurant Bavaria behind the hotel with outside seating and extremely loud karaoke during the summer months. Sauna onsite. 54-74-74 Prospket Mira, 19


Hotel Vladikavkaz Soviet style intourist hotel. Centrally located beside the river, a five minute walk from the centre and just next to the Mukhtarov mosque (you will hear the prayer calls!). Thin walls and hard beds, generally overpriced. Many staff speak English and will help you arrange day-trips, such as renting a taxi to Dargavs. 64-94-94, 55-03-83 ul. Kotzoeva, 75

Aleksandrovskiy Grand Hotel A grand and luxurious five star hotel, with a gourmet restaurant and prices to match. The staff have only limited English, but will try to make things work. Prospekt Mira 29.

Stay safe[edit]

Vladikavkaz is very safe, but avoid drunks especially at night, and watch out for reckless drivers.

Get out[edit]

Tsey Valley[edit]

Ossetia's only ski centre. Small but worth a weekend in winter. During the summer the Tsey valley offers a great base for treks in the local hills and glaciers. There are several huts and cabins in the area, but only one hotel at the resort Skazka (Сказки) [3]

Fiagdon Valley[edit]

A must is to visit the Ancient cemetery of the Dargavs [4], and afterwards eat at the "Valley of the Sun" Restaurant in Harisdjin. The valley is very popular for picnics in the summer and has spectacular limestone scenery and old Ossetian settlements and towers, all of which are open to exploration by the intrepid.

Great views of the Caucasus mountains in the distance, the road runs alongside the river Fiagdon. There are several decent restaurants along the road all serving Ossetian cuisine. Fiagdon itself is a small ex mining town and not worth visiting so continue through it to Harisdjin[4]. Here there are nice spots for shashlik and several paths/roads further into the mountains. Visit the new Alani Assumption Monastery[5]. Past Harsidjin up a steep slope is a picturesque shrine to the Virgin Mary and some ruins of gardens. Take the mountain road by bike from here to cross over into the Tsey valley.

Georgian Military Road[edit]

The border with Georgia opened for international travelers in 2013. The border is not quick to cross, being a combination of a narrow gorge and impatient drivers, but the scenery more than compensates.

Beslan school hostage crisis cemetery[edit]

If arriving by plane you will pass the cemetery of the 186 children killed in this infamous siege. Take time to pause and reflect upon this event and all the senseless killing in the region.

The Beslan school hostage crisis of September 2004 lasted three days and involved the capture of over 1,100 people as hostages at the hands of Muslim terrorists (including 777 children), ending with the death of over 380 people when Russian special forces stormed the school.


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