Behind the temple of Tkhaba-Yerdy and up the stream of Assa, where a large tributary Guloykhi empties into it, stands the castle complex of Pui. Prominent part of that complex is the “classic” 5-storey battle tower rising for 30 meters. Time has speared this tower: its pyramidal slate roof with a keystone at the top is intact, barely damaged are the machicolations – balconies on the top sentinel tier. These balconies let the besieged warriors fight the enemy – throw at them, pour boiling water on their heads – while staying safe.
“Vouv” battle towers are the pinnacle of the Ingush`s architecture. They are always high – 25 meters minimum – and narrow: remember the spiral staircases of medieval castle in Europe, they also leave no room for maneuvers, and it plays more into the hands of the defenders than the enemies.
Battle towers were placed in strategic locations – at crossroads or entrances to gorges. By custom, before laying the tower`s foundation builders poured milk on the ground. If it did not seep in, the site was deemed suitable for construction. And if the milk did seep into the ground, they dug deeper, to the bedrock, or even went looking for a new place. Vouv tower always has only one entrance. It leads directly to the first and second floors. A ladder, which could be easily picked up at any time, was used to access the tower. Classical Ingush battle tower has four, sometimes five floors and a stepped pyramidal roof. Tapered capstone crowns the pyramid. Some towers have flat roofs. The most famous example is the tower complex of Vovnushki. During clashes and sieges, ground floor was reserved for prisoners, and there was a special grain storage compartment there. First floor was occupied by heavily armed soldiers; belongings of the defenders were also kept there. Families of the defenders lodged on the second floor, further tiers were for defenders and observers only. Provided they had enough food, water and weapons, people in the towers could endure a siege of many months. Even if one storey of the tower was captured, its defenders went higher and barricaded there.
Tourist Information Centre of the Republic of Ingushetia /www.ingtourism.ru
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