On our recent Chechnya and North Caucasus tour, YPT naturally spent a lot of time in the revitalised city of Grozny, which is rapidly becoming the centre of the North Caucasus. Gleaming and flashing, this city had a far worse reputation a few years ago. It was labelled as the most destroyed city on earth by the UN and Chechnya was branded the most dangerous place on the planet, where kidnapping and death was almost guaranteed. Luckily, that’s in the past and today, you can enjoy a cappuccino or a pizza on the main street, called Putin Prospekt, worry free.
We were impressed with Grozny so we decided to list our five favourite attractions in this amazing city.
Akhmat Kadyrov Museum
It’s no secret that the current strongman president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is nowhere near as popular as his murdered father Akhmat Kadyrov. In the centre of Grozny is the Akhmat Kadyrov museum, which is the definition of dictator chic. Upon entering you are greeted with sheer marble and stunning chandeliers. The museum is overwhelmingly a shrine to Akhmat and Ramzan. You can see the clothes Akhmat was wearing on the day he died, original photographs of the explosion that ripped him apart, gifts from tribal leaders and heads of other Russian republics as well as books he and Ramzan have written about themselves. Upstairs is an art gallery of various paintings people have donated including some fetching portraits of Ramzan, Akhmat and their grandfather in tribal clothes with an intimidating glare.
Grozny Business Centre helipad
Labelled ‘’the most destroyed city on earth’’ by the UN in 2000, Grozny is now a reborn and refurbished city. At the end of Putin Prospekt is the Grozny business plaza where for a few Rubles you can take an elevator to the helipad of one of the buildings, enjoy a few (non-alcoholic) drinks and look down upon Grozny below. Bear in mind that there are warnings not to photograph from one angle as it faces the president’s palace. This rule is serious and not meant to be broken under any circumstances.
Akhmat Kadyrov Mosque
The pride of modern Grozny is the Akhmat kadyrov mosque also known as ‘’the heart of Chechnya’’. One of the largest in Russia, it is of typical Ottoman style with a set of 62-metre (203 ft)-tall minarets. It was opened in 2008 in a ceremony in which Ramzan Kadyrov appeared and spoke with Vladimir Putin. The area of the mosque is 5000 square meters and has a capacity of more than ten thousand people. The same number of faithful can pray in the mosque adjacent to the gallery and the area of summer. The interior is stunning and well worth a visit inside.
FC Akhmat Stadium
If you’re lucky, your trip will coincide with a football match. Our YPT group tour did and I wasn’t sure what to expect but Chechen football is a great atmosphere and you’ll likely see president Kadyrov sitting in his executive suite balcony watching the match.
National museum of Chechnya
Just off Putin Prospekt is the new National Museum. The Chechen wars of 1994-1996 and 1999-2001 destroyed or scattered many exhibits of Chechen museums, but luckily many have been recovered and are on display here. The staff are generally nice and will speak a little English and will try to help as much as possible. The museum has some rare artifacts, especially from WW2.
And there we have it – a dangerous, ‘destroyed’ city no longer, Grozny is well worth a visit if you happen to be in Chechnya or the North Caucasus!.