Difference between revisions of "Vladikavkaz"
Latest revision as of 14:56, 21 February 2018
Train service from Moscow and other southern regional cities such as Rostov daily. Two flights from Moscow daily - S7 Airlines out of Domodedovo Airport, and Aerflot Don out of Vnukovo.
Public transit is cheap and reliable - tram, bus, minibuses (marshrutki). Taxi service generally costs about 50-100 rubles (as of August 2015) for almost anywhere in town, per stop. Official taxis are recommended, they are easily available in the center of the city, avoid private taxis (chastniki). Drivers WILL try and rip off tourists, especially if you do not speak Russian well. Make sure to negotiate the price before getting in, and don't let them bully you! Ask your hotel desk clerk or another local what the price should be.
Basically no English is spoken, 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.
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. Tsey and Fiagdon 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.
Although Vladikavkaz is a beautiful, exciting, interesting place, beware there are still serious travel restrictions. You will not find an embassy website that recommends travel to the North Caucasus (2013). There is a frozen conflict between North Ossetia and neighbouring Ingushetia, and there are road blocks with passport checks along those internal (disputed) borders. The entire area surrounding Vladikavkaz, Prigorodny is out of bounds. You may only transit by the Federal highways. Aside from the areas mentioned to visit, presume all other areas in North Ossetia to be out of bounds until checked. Do not take take Russian restrictions lightly. There are some real security dangers, and if caught you will be fined and deported.
With that dire caveat given, Ossetia has much to offer the intrepid tourist and should peace break out with Ingushetia and Georgia, this is an exciting location to watch.
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.
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
North Ossetia is famous in Russia for it's pie, the Pirog (пиро́г). Available in meat, cheese, potatoe, 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.
As the Georgian Border relaxes there is the hope that Georgian wine will make an entry onto shop shelves soon. Keep an eye out. Otherwise there are local wines and beers, but the quality varies wildly.
Wander down Prospekt Mira for a myriad of good cafes and restaurants
53-95-64 U. Mayakovskogo, 21 10.00-24.00
54-88-55 Ul. Shumlevicha, 41 12.00-24.00
54-06-48 Ul. M. Gorkogo, 9 9.00-23.00 [email protected]
53-88-88 Ul. Revolutsii, 62 12.00-23.00
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
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) 
Hotel Amran 28 Ulitsa Markova 
Aleksandrovskiy Grand Hotel A small, but extremely 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.
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) 
A must is to visit the Ancient cemetery of the Dargavs , 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. Here there are nice spots for shashlik and several paths/roads further into the mountains. Visit the new Alani Assumption Monastery. 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
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
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.