More a village than a town, the former capital of Crimean Tatar khans is cradled in a narrow valley squeezed between two limestone escarpments. Its name means 'garden-palace', and it's a garden that needs a lot of tilling after 50 years of neglect, during which its owners lived in exile. Now the Crimean Tatars are back and, although lacking resources, they have already orchestrated a minor renaissance, which benefits travellers more than anyone else.
Sadly, the Russian annexation has once again turned Crimean Tatars into a persecuted minority, even though not on a Soviet scale. Hence, some of the little hotels and restaurants that we used to love are now closed, their owners having fled to Kyiv. But Bakhchysaray is still an enchanting place full of remnants of past civilizations and a great base for outdoor adventure in the Crimean mountains.