The Info List - New Sarai

Sarai (also transcribed as Saraj or Saray, from Persian sarāi, "palace" or "court"[1]) was the name of two cities, which were successively capital cities of the Golden Horde, the Mongol
kingdom which ruled much of Central Asia
Central Asia
and Eastern Europe, in the 13th and 14th centuries. Located in present-day Russia, they were among the largest cities of the medieval world, with a population estimated by the 2005 Britannica
at 600,000.


1 Old Sarai 2 New Sarai 3 Little Sarai 4 See also 5 References

Old Sarai[edit]

Tilework fragments of a palace in Sarai.

"Old Sarai", or "Sarai Batu" or "Sarai-al-Maqrus"[2] (al-Maqrus is Arabic
for "the blessed") was established by Mongol
ruler Batu Khan
Batu Khan
in the mid-1240s, on a site east of the Akhtuba
river, near to the modern village of Selitrennoye.[3] This site was most probably located on the Akhtuba
River, a channel of the lower Volga River, near the contemporary village of Selitrennoye in Kharabali District, Astrakhan
Oblast, Russia, about 120 km north from Astrakhan. Sarai was the seat of Batu and his successor Berke. Under them Sarai was the capital of a great empire. The various Rus' princes came to Sarai to pledge allegiance to the Khan and receive his patent of authority (yarlyk).[4] New Sarai[edit]

The domains of the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
in 1389. The gold star shows the location of New Sarai. Empty circles represent other major cities.

"New Sarai" or "Sarai Berke" (called Sarai-al-Jadid on coins) was at modern Kolobovka, formerly Tsarev,[5] an archeological site also on the Akhtuba
channel 85 km east of Volgograd, and about 180 km northwest of Old Sarai; or possibly on the site of Saqsin (which may itself have stood on the site of the Khazar capital, Atil). The bishops of Krutitsy
resided in Tsarev from 1261 to 1454. It had probably succeeded Sarai Batu as the capital of the Golden Horde
Golden Horde
by the mid-14th century. Sarai was described by the famous traveller Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta
as "one of the most beautiful cities ... full of people, with the beautiful bazaars and wide streets", and having 13 congregational mosques along with "plenty of lesser mosques".[6] Another contemporary source describes it as "a grand city accommodating markets, baths and religious institutions".[6] An astrolabe was discovered during escavations at the site and the city was home to many poets, most of whom are known to us only by name.[6][7] Both cities were sacked several times. Timur
sacked New Sarai around 1395, and Meñli I Giray of the Crimean Khanate
Crimean Khanate
sacked New Sarai around 1502. The forces of Ivan IV of Russia
finally destroyed Sarai after conquering the Astrakhan
Khanate in 1556. In 1623-1624, a Russian merchant, Fedot Kotov, travelled to Persia
via the lower Volga. He described the site of Sarai:

Here by the river Akhtuba
stands the Golden Horde. The khan's court, palaces, and courts, and mosques are all made of stone. But now all these buildings are being dismantled and the stone is being taken to Astrakhan.[8]

Since Old Sarai lies at 120 km from Astrakhan
and New Sarai at 300 km, it is difficult to decide to which of these two cities this description applies. After the destruction of New Sarai, Russia
established the fortress city of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, now Volgograd) to control the area. Little Sarai[edit] Main article: Saray-Jük Sarai Juk (Little Sarai) was a city on the Ural River. It is often conflated with the other Sarais in historical and modern accounts. This town was the main city of the Nogai Horde, one of the successors of the Golden Horde. Although sacked by the Ural Cossacks
Ural Cossacks
in 1580, it was later used as the headquarters by some Kazakh khans. See also[edit]

Bakhchisaray Volgograd


^ Encyclopedia of Islam, Saray ^ Atwood, Christopher P. (2004). Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol
Empire. New York, NY: Facts on File ^ VASILIEVITCH, K.V. et al., Atlas Istorii SSSR 1, Glavnoe Upravlenie.., Moskva, 1948, p. 12 ^ MacKenzie, David, Michael W. Curran. (2002). A History of Russia, the Soviet Union, and Beyond. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning. ISBN 0-534-58698-8 ^ Possibly near: 48°39′42″N 45°22′05″E / 48.6617°N 45.3680°E / 48.6617; 45.3680 ^ a b c Ravil Bukharaev (2014). Islam in Russia: The Four Seasons. Routledge. p. 116.  ^ Ravil Bukharaev, David Matthews, eds. (2013). Historical Anthology of Kazan Tatar Verse. Routledge. p. 15. CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link) ^ Н. А. Кузнецова (N. A. Kuznetsova), Хождение купца Федота Котова в Персию [Journey of the merchant Fedot Kotov to Persia] (Moscow, U.S.S.R.: 1958), page 30. (in Russian) From p. 30: "Тут по той реки по Ахтубе стоит Золатая Орда. Царской двор, и полаты, и дворы, и мечети — все каменные, а стоят и до Астр