Through the Looking Glass – An Adventure in Crimea


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Bakhchisaray – The Former Capital of the Crimean Khanate

We’ve all had that nagging moment when you know something just isn’t quite right. I had this feeling when we made the decision to explore the greater part of Crimea. What would we find, Ukrainians hiding under bushes or would we find heaven on earth? Was it safe to leave our comfortable surroundings and set out for more of this wonderful place call Crimea? “Yes”, we would be in good hands, our guide was from Sudak, a short heavy set man. He’d be the one who would expose us to the truth, he’d show us the chess moves made during the referendum. By some miracle of God we were put together with him, his job – the head organizer for the town of Sudak, it was he that worked out how thing were conducted and allowed people to vote peacefully. By his word,”this was all accomplished and happened within one short week.” The looking-glass brought me into his presence, the Cheshire Cat was revealing to me what really happened in wonderland – first stop off to the garden palace.

It would be several days later we would make our first venture out of our peaceful little cove, our paradise.

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The Khan’s Palace

One of the first places we discovered on our excursion of  Crimea was visiting the ancient capital of Crimea. The Khan’s Palace was built by the Crimean Khanate in the 15th century. The palace is of great importance, first it’s a national shrine for the Crimean people, secondly it’s the only surviving example of Crimean Tatar Palace architecture, and finally alongside Alhambra and Top Kapi palaces in Spain and Turkey it’s one of three unique palaces representing the civilizational circle of the middle east. Can someone tell me where the White Queen is?  It’s also well know because of one of Alexander Pushkin’s poems, “The fountain of Bakhchisarary”. See more here.

The Fountain of Bakhchisaray

The play starts out in the garden of the palace.

Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye, As though some spell in sorrow bound him, His slavish courtiers thronging nigh, In sad expectance stood around him. The lips of all had silence sealed, Whilst, bent on him, each look observant, Saw grief’s deep trace and passion fervent Upon his gloomy brow revealed. But the proud Khan his dark eye raising, And on the courtiers fiercely gazing, Gave signal to them to begone! The chief, unwitnessed and alone, Now yields him to his bosom’s smart, Deeper upon his brow severe Is traced the anguish of his heart; As full fraught clouds on mirrors clear Reflected terrible appear!

What fills that haughty soul with pain? What thoughts such madd’ning tumults cause? With Russia plots he war again? Would he to Poland dictate laws? Say, is the sword of vengeance glancing? Does bold revolt claim nature’s right? Do realms oppressed alarm excite? Or sabres of fierce foes advancing? Ah no! no more his proud steed prancing Beneath him guides the Khan to war,– Such thoughts his mind has banished far…………….

See more here. Someone pinch me, does this remind anyone of what’s going on in the world today? Where would Haigha take us next? What would it all reveal?

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