Tsarev Mound in Samara

Before 20 century Tsarev Mound was a big domed mountain. It reached the height of 80 meters. Being located at the confluence of the rivers Sok and Volga, it was clearly visible for all passing ships, and in the course of several centuries there were made up many legends about it.

You can find the first records of the mound in the book of Adam Olearius, the secretary of the Holstein ambassador, who had been there in 1636. He wrote: «On the left side, not far from the bank, we saw a bald, round sandy mountain on the absolutely flat plain that the Russian call the Tsarev Mound. We were told that under this mountain a Tatar prince called Mamaon, was buried. He and seven other Tatar tsars went up the Volga and wanted to conquer the entire Russia. But he died and was buried in this place. And his warriors, which were very numerous, allegedly brought earth to his grave using their hats and shields, and so the mountain was made».

But the natural origin of the Tsarev Mound was proved by scientists. Tsarev Mound has the same geological structure as the nearby Sokolyi and Zhigulevskiye mountains and it is just one of the residual outcrops of these mountains. However, the historical events described in the legends did take place in this region.

In the second half of 14 century about two dozens of khans changed on the throne of the The Golden Horde. And as a result, in 1359 the power over the most part of the khanate was taken by the khan Mamay who had not a legitimate right of succession. In 1380 he undertook a campaign against Russia, which ended in his complete defeat at the Battle of Kulikovo from the host of Dmitri Donskoi. At that time Tamerlane or Timur, the emir of Samarkand, decided to intervene in the dispute of the successors of the Golden Horde and help the legitimate successor, khan Tokhtamysh, to seize power. It is believed that the battle between the troops of Tokhtamysh and Mamay took place on the banks of the Kalka river. But according to some other data, Mamay was killed and buried already in Crimea where he raised troops. However, according to a legend Mamay was buried just under the Tsarev Mound.

Another legend is related to the battle between the troops of Tokhtamysh and Tamerlane. Tokhtamysh used the help of Tamerlane to seize power in the Golden Horde and then in the campaign against Russia in 1382. In spite of the victory at the Battle of Kulikovo, Russian princes were not able to resist the troops of Tamerlane. All Russian cities, including Moscow, were burnt and the protectorate known as «mongol-tatar yoke» was restored and lasted for almost a century to 1480. After that Tokhtamysh turned his back on Tamerlane and in 1385 and 1388 he even undertook military campaigns against Azerbaijan and Mesopotamia, respectively, which were controlled by Tamerlane. 

Tamerlane could not forgive such betrayal and moved his troops against Tokhtamysh. By 1391 he caught him near the southern steppes of Russia. The Battle of the Kondurcha river (it is the steppes in the region of the today Samara) was very bloody. Tokhtamysh was completely defeated but Tamerlane also lost a great number of warriors. Tamerlane ordered to put a stone for each killed warrior on the top of the Tsarev Mound. So the hill of the regular shape was made.

Many tsars and famous people ascended on the top of this mound. It was visited by Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great. The latter had a cross placed there. However, despite its apparent historical value in 1930 the mound was turned into a source of stone for the world’s largest (at that time) Kyubyshev HEP. As a result, there remained only small rocks from the mound. On the top of one of the rocks a new big cross was placed in memory of the Peter`s cross.