Get to know the Circassian village of Kalezh on the Black Sea coast


The Circassian (Shapsug) village of Kalezh is the administrative center of the Lygotkhsky rural district in the Lazarevsky (Psyshuape) district of the municipality of the resort city of Sochi, Krasnodar Territory the Circassian homeland.

"Kalezh" in translation from the Circassian (Adyghe) language means "old city", where kale - "city" and zhy - "old". The toponym of the name is possibly connected with the fortification of medieval times that existed in the past on the right, more elevated bank of the Ashe River, which was called Kalezhtam by the Circassians (Kalezhtame - “the height of the old fortress”). The remains of this fortress are still preserved.

The village is located in the northern part of Greater Sochi, on the left bank of the Ashe River. It is located 24 km north of the town of Lazarevskoye, 91 km northwest of Central Sochi and 230 km south of the city of Krasnodar. It borders on the lands of the Circassian villages: Lygoth in the south and Hadzhiko in the west. Not far from the village there are large tracts - Chkhakiyap, Tsirgay and Pkhazedaki.

Kalezh is located in the spurs of the Azhe ridge. The village is surrounded on all sides by ridges with a dense mixed forest. The average heights in the territory of the village are 275 meters above sea level. The highest point in the vicinity of the village is Mount Khunaget (532 m).

Since ancient times, the entire valley of the Ashe River has been inhabited. This is evidenced by both written sources and traces of the Circassian economic activity that have survived to our time, such as the remains of the foundations of residential buildings, fences, terraced fields, feral orchards, as well as burial mounds of different times, dolmens and menhirs.

After the end of the Russian Caucasian War in 1864, almost all of the surviving Circassian population in Circassia was deported to the Ottoman Empire. The remnants of the Circassians in the Shapsugia region of Circassia, who continued to hide in the hard-to-reach mountainous and wooded area.

In 1874, the Circassians were allowed to settle in the mountainous region of the Black Sea coast and began to settle in the village of Kalezh again.

Today, about 500 people live in Kalezh. As in other settlements of the mountainous zone of Sochi, the main role in the economy of the village is played by horticulture, beekeeping and viticulture. Abandoned and overgrown since the time of the Caucasian war, the Old Circassian Gardens have been preserved in the mountains.

In the field of tourism, hiking trips to the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, tracts and gorges are developed. Often visited by tourists and ancient dolmens and menhirs located in different parts of the village.

We present you photos from the celebration of the Day of the Circassian Flag, which took place on April 25, 2023 in the village of Kalezh. The event included a horse ride from the Circassian village of Khadziko to the Circassian village of Kalezh, where they treated the guests to Circassian dishes and, of course, continued the holiday with Circassian dances.