The last “russian” city in the Caucasus, part of the federal republic of North Ossetia.

Historically a bastion to those mountains, and with an extremely suggestive (and difficult to live up to) name (it literally translates into “to own/dominate the Caucaus”), Vladikavkaz controls the strategic Darial Pass, the only road connecting Georgia and the Russian Federation, and is a door to the further republics of Ingushetia, Chechnya and Daghestan.

The significant presence of ethnic russians (25%), and the fact that Ossetians are the only Orthodox population of the region, makes Vladikavkaz feel much more “russian” than the neighbouring cities.

But this is just an impression: spend some time with the locals, and the true depth of the ossetian traditions will re-emerge unscathed. Those are strong, proud people, whose ancestors dominated the Caucasus long before the russians reached there.

Digging a bit through interacting with the locals, something quickly becomes clear: that, as in the rest of the Caucasus, the russian empir, soviet union, and now the federal republic, all left but a fleeting mark there, without ever really reaching the underlying cultural heritage of these people.


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