Gamsutl – Gamsutl', Russia - Atlas Obscura

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Gamsutl', Russia

Propped high atop the peak of Mount Gamsutlmeer, this abandoned village is one of the oldest settlements in the region. 


Propped high at the peak of Mount Gamsutlmeer in Dagestan, Russia, this abandoned ancient village is one of the oldest settlements in the region.

In the Gunibsky district of Dagestan lies Mount Gamsutlmeer, and at an altitude of roughly 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) above sea level resides the village of Gamsutl.

Translated from the Avar (the majority ethnic group of the republic), Gamsutl means “at the foot of the kahn’s fortress,” leading many to assume that a local Khan chose this location to build his kingdom fortified from his enemies. Eventually, a community evolved around the structure. 

Surrounded by uneasy cliffs and perilous slopes, this location is hard to reach, however, visitors can still venture into the abandoned village by driving from the nearby town of Chokh into the base of the valley. From there, it’s a two-hour hike into the foothills and ancient pathways created by the original residents for herding and transporting their cattle. 

It’s believed the village is anywhere from 2,000 - 5,000 years old, and at its peak, boasted 300 homes. Even during the 20th-century, the village was still bustling with life and contained shops, a post office, and a hospital.

However as times changed, more opportunities for better livelihoods in other towns and cities forced many to leave. It just became too impractical to live in such a remote location. 

In 2015, the village’s last remaining resident, Abdulhalil Abdulhalilvov, passed away. Today, 70 abandoned homes are all that remain of this ancient stronghold. 

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February 12, 2021

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