The capital of Golden Horde, founded by Batu-khan in the 1250s, near present-day Astrakhan. Moslem traveler Ibn Battuta wrote about its wide streets and beautiful bazaars in 1334. Khan Uzbek moved the capital to New Sarai in the Volgograd region circa 1350, but this city was destroyed by Timur the Great in 1395, in his war with Toktamysh.

Desiatinnaia Church

The first stone church in Rus, the Chronicles date its origins to 989. Prince Vladimir, the Baptizer, allocated a tenth of his income (desiat) to the maintenance of the church, a tithe, from whence came its name. Lying essentially in ruins in the 1820s, Kiev amateur-archeologist K. N. Lokhvitskii became embroiled in the fight to resurrect it rather than, as had been happening, simply removing the rubble and building a new church on the spot. Excavations at this site continued throughout the century, uncovering other parts of Old Kiev.


The capital of Bulgaria on the Volga from the 8th-15th century, the ruins of this city intrigue because of the other Bulgaria, the one on the Danube. Similarities in language break down according to religious influences, Byzantium on the Danube and Islam on the Volga. Arab traders wrote about Bolghar, which profited as a trading center after the Mongol conquest in the 13th century. The ruins were rediscovered in the 18th century and visited by both Peter and Catherine the Greats, further testament to the perrenial empire.


A city of Golden Horde, circa 13th-14th centuries, which played a major role in the trade between Idel-Ural, the Caucasus, and the Black Sea region, but was sacked by Tim in 1395. An important archeological find on the Kuma River, the ruins include buildings, public baths, water pipes and workshops; it minted its own coins, 1311. Ibn Battuta described it: I then set out for the city of al-Māchar, a large town, one of the finest of the cities of the Turks, on a great river, and possessed of gardens and fruits in abundance.