Karachay-Cherkessia is one of Russia's most picturesque regions; it is conveniently located in the eastern part of the Caucasus Mountains and is similar in size to a small European country. This is mountainous oblast where people live close to the sky and have not lost the life-giving connection with nature. It is a curious area, where, just a few kilometers from the town center, you can travel back in time to a different era where the moderate life style matches the spirit and age-old traditions of the mountain people.
The region's image is reflected in the national character of its inhabitants. The culture of the Caucasian people can be called an inexhaustible treasure trove of observations and discoveries. Visitors will be fascinated to discover the way of life of the mountain people and learn about traditional values and unique customs, national dishes and Caucasian hospitality.
Karachay-Cherkessia is interesting at any time of year. This is greatly helped by the fairly mild climate. The winter frosts are short and in summer the mountain freshness and humidity coming from the Black Sea keeps you cool.
In summer, this mountainous area becomes the "promised land" for lovers of trekking and mountain climbing. Hundreds of beautiful passes and interesting routes in Teberda and Arkhyz districts, huge glaciers and mountain lakes, precipitous cliffs and categorized peaks wait for conquerors every year.
The republic's potential for winter activities has only started to grow, but is already developing quickly and confidently. Dombay can compete with the Elbrus region in terms of the level and variety of tracks, while the rapidly growing Arkhyz Park resort is already snapping at the heels of Krasnaya Polyana, which only beats it in terms of size but not slopes or level of service.
This small republic hides a vast number of amazing natural sites. It seems as if the most beautiful places have been placed as close to each other as possible.
The Bermamyt Plateau can be justifiably called the Russian Grand Canyon. People who have visited it compare this place to the ends of the earth. The huge mountain range is broken by precipitous cliffs in an immense chasm; on clear days you can have the best view of the highest peak in Europe—the beautiful Elbrus.
A unique post-Soviet heritage of the republic is the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Science with the largest optical telescope in Eurasia, which is open to visitors. This huge structure was the largest astronomic instrument in the world for several decades. Today, visitors can view the unprecedented project of Soviet engineers and scientists and also look into the tower's dome to see how astronomer's study the universe using the giant telescope. Over the last several years, this observatory has become very popular for astrotourism; hundreds of people come to this science town to admire the stars in the sky.
Despite the fact that most of the local population are Muslim and that the whole republic is full of beautiful examples of Islamic architecture, this is where the oldest Christian church in Russia can be found. In different parts of the republic, in particular in the Arkhyz Gorge, there are numerous examples of the ancient Christian civilization of Alania, which flourished in this area more than 10 centuries ago. Ancient Alan buildings represent a unique cultural heritage of the country. The thousand-year-old churches and archaeological complexes attract pilgrims from all over the world.