- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
215

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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OVER THE CASPIAN TO ASTRAKHAN
215
Kiev. Itil (or Balanyar, as it was called after the
destruction by the Russians in 969) was then
utterly destroyed by Tamerlane at the end of the
I4th century; and later Astrakhan was founded
where it now stands, and became the capital of a
Tatar khanate until it was tåken by the Russians
under Ivan the Terrible in 1557, since when it has
been Russian always. In 1660 it withstood the
siege by the Tatars, but in 1670 it was tåken by
Stenka Razin. Peter the Great made the town the
base for his campaign against Persia, built ship
yards there, and contributed to its growth. It is now
used by several thousand ships a year, and its
outward and inward trade is important.
The most important source of food supplies for
the town and the whole district is beyond com
parison the rich fisheries, and more than half the
population lives by them. The canal through the
town, and a tributary (the Kulum) of the river,
offered a picturesque sight with the crowds of
boats along the banks. Wc visited the market-place,
where there was a busy traffic ; all kinds of wares
were on sale on tables in small booths, or on trays.
Every kind of natural type was there : Russians,
Tatars, Persians, Kirghizes. The many women,
both buyers and sellers, made an ever-present
contrast to Tiflis.
On the highest spot in the town wc saw the
Kremlin, with the white wall around it, loopholed
and with several towers. Within the wall is also
the cathedral with five green domes. In the street
before the entrance tower to the Kremlin on the

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