Located in the Itum-Kale district of the Republic of Chechnya, near the border between Russia and Georgia, Tsoi-Pede, is a medieval necropolis. It’s one of the largest medieval cemeteries in the Caucasus, included in the list of the seven most remote Russian attractions.
The necropolis was constructed during medieval times. There are a few rumors surrounding Tsoi-Pede, one being that it was the final resting place for warriors. Located quite far from civilization, the necropolis consists of a watchtower, wall and about 40 crypts. According to one theory, the necropolis was created during an awful epidemic: There were so many victims that burying them became a problem, and those expecting to die were themselves coming to the cemetery to wait for their death here. Along the way there’s a memorial for two Russians that went over the edge. Apart from the terrible drop there is also the danger of ambush.
The road to the necropolis, also known as the 'city of the dead’, starts on the E50 road. It’s 93.7 km long. The road is well surfaced near Shatoy and later near Itum-Kale but the Argun Gorge is still a danger and stunning. Along the way there’s a memorial for two Russians that went over the edge… The men were members of Russia’s military and were traveling in a truck that was transporting a large sum of cash to pay the wages of the soldiers in their unit. When the men failed to show up, it was assumed that they had absconded with the money. However, several years later, two Chechens went over the cliff in the exact same spot. A group made their way down the cliff to recover the bodies of the Chechens and discovered the Russians down there as well.
Apart from the terrible drop there is also the danger of ambush. This road has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. One needs permission to travel into the mountains. The road is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. It’s definitely not for anyone suffering from vertigo or a fear of landslides. Only the suicidal, the insane, or the paid-to-do-this should ever drive down. One mistake and it's a free fall to your death. A 4 WD and an experienced driver are recommended. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. With no guard rails and sheer cliffs, the narrow road up into the mountains is not for everyone.
Road suggested by: Hugh Wilson
Pic: Adam Khamzatov