Khakassia

Khakassia is Russia’s Federation republic located in Siberia. The capital of Khakassia is Abakan, in which the airport and a railway station are located. There is another way to get to Khakassia by way of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, but it takes approximately 11.5 hours by bus from Krasnoyarsk to Abakan.

Khakassia is rather small, but it’s a unique area which is relatively unknown to tourists in Russia. There are 32 official cultural places in Khakassia—each one open to the public. In addition, there are more places where no tourist has even been before. We’ll look at some of these later.

In Khakassia one can combine the exploration of archaeological and historical monuments with relaxing activities such as relaxing on the lakes, hiking, bird watching, fishing and more.

Khakassian tour guide

My tour guide Maxim showing places of Khakassia

History and archeology

A huge period of Khakassian history is known only through the findings of archaeological excavations. For example, the world’s only Paleolithic human terracotta figurine was found there. An ancient artist created it 16 thousand years ago, and the figurine was obtained near Maina village in Khakassia in the early 1980s. This discovery has created a sensation in the scientific world.

Maina figure

The figurine was obtained near Maina village in Khakassia.

Many people went through Khakassia and got integrated into the local population. This resulted in the eventual creation of a unique culture, as well as countless myths & legends. They left behind them mounds, burial grounds, ancient fortresses, statues, and petroglyphs; some of which are still open to the public.

Okunev culture sculptures

Okunev culture sculpturesfrom Khakassia.

Okunev Culture is arguably the most amazing archaeological culture (2—1,500BC). Numerous stelae containing images of fantastic animals, shamans, and people with solar symbols were found by archaeologists. Today the findings can be viewed in Minusinsk and the Abakan museums of Local Lore. All Okunev culture sculptures and drawings are much older & richer, possessing more historical and artistic value than famous statues of Easter Island—despite the fact that they are not as well known.
Another notable culture is the so-called Tashtyk, known for its unique funerary plaster masks. Each one has its own special features. The key aspect of these masks is that each person’s look is amazingly peaceful.

The one of the most famous places of power in Khakassia is the Salbykskaya basin (aka ‘The Valley of the Kings’). There are many burial mounds (kurgans), sculptures, and writings located here. The Great Salbyk Mound boasts an impressive size. At the time of the archaeological excavations it was 11 meters high and 120 meters in diameter with the original height of between 25 – 30 meters. The Great Salbyk Mound is dated back to the 4th century BC and is today open to the public.

It is important to grasp the history of Khakassia because of how unique it is. Once you do, you’ll understand the value of what there is to see. Detailed articles on the history of Khakassia are in the process of being published by myself.

Shamanism

Khakass’ system of beliefs is most similar to shamanism, although though Khakass’ religious ideas still don’t have a precise scientific definition. Khakass shamanism and shamans play an important role even in today’s modern life. Magic rituals, belief in the supernatural power of objects, and plants & animals are still present in Khakassia. If you are lucky enough to be in Khakassia in the beginning of July, you’ll be able to watch the shaman performances at the famous Tun Pairam.

Nature of Khakassia

The climate in Khakassia is sharply continental. Winter is very cold and summer is hot. The weather often varies even in neighboring areas due to the combination of high mountains and intermountain basins. It’s always cooler in the mountains than it is in the steppe or on the plain. The hottest month is July (the air temperature reaches up to +35 °C). Indian summer (or as it’s sometimes called, ‘Old Wives’ summer’) is during the second half of September until the beginning of October. The air reaches temperatures of around25 °C or higher. The best time for travel is the end of June until July.

The main river of Khakassia, Yenisei, together with the main mountain, Sayan, form a beautiful landscape from hilly and flat terrain. Minusinsk also boasts mounds as well as a high mountain which towers above the horizon.

In Khakassia there is a huge number of lakes, both fresh and salty; including the ones used as spa resorts. The lakes of the Shirinsky district—which includes the Lake Shire—are the most famous and popular.
There are more than 1.5 thousand species of plants, and the formation of the modern Khakassian flora dates back to the Ice Age. Alpine meadows, taiga, forest steppe and steppe, all form a part of this region; and forests stretch to five altitudinal belts. The Siberian globeflower—a very beautiful plant with orange blooms—forms part of the Abakan city emblem. It is a favourite flower for locals and carries many legends with it.

The Siberian globeflower

The Siberian globeflower – the symbol of Khakassia

The fauna of Khakassia is rich and varied. Roe deer, musk deer, squirrel, chipmunk, lynx, and bear are all common species here; and seeing them is common.

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