The domains of the Golden Horde in 1389.
Sarai Berke is shown with a gold star.
, also transcribed as Saraj
) was a capital city of the Golden Horde
and one of the largest cities of
the medieval world, with a population estimated by the 2005
The name Sarai
means "palace", al-Maqrus
of Sarai Batu (or Sarai Berke) was likely located on the Akhtuba channel of the lower Volga River near contemporary village
Selitrennoye in Kharabalinsky
District, Astrakhan Oblast,
Russia, about 120 km north from Astrakhan. Mongol
is credited with building the
city in the mid-1240s on the site of Saqsin
(which may have itself been built on the site of the Khazar
Sarai Batu's importance stems from the fact that Rus princes had to
obtain patents of authority (yarlyk
) from the
khan in Sarai. This both encouraged competition between princes and
solidified the Golden Horde
over the area.
New Sarai, called
Sarai-al-Jadid on coins, is located at modern Kolobovka,
formerly Tsarev, an archeological site also on the Akhtuba channel
85 km east of Volgograd. The bishops of Krutitsy resided in
Tsarev from 1261 to 1454.
It had probably succeeded Sarai
Batu as the capital of the Golden Horde
by the mid-1300's.
Either one or both cities were destroyed several times. Tamerlane
destroyed New Sarai around 1395,
Meñli I Giray
destroyed New Sarai around 1502. The
final destruction happened after 1556 when Ivan IV of Russia
conquered Astrakhan Khanate
In 1623-24, merchant Fedot Afanasyevich
took a journey to Persia
He gave the following account of the lower Volga: 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
. Most likely, this was a
description of New Sarai.
) was another city
to bear the name that stood on the Ural
. It often conflated with the other Sarais in historical
and modern accounts. This town was the main city of the Nogai Horde
, one of successor kingdoms to the
Golden Horde. Although ruined by the Ural
in 1580, it was later used as the headquarters by some
- Atwood, Christopher P. (2004). Encyclopedia of Mongolia and
the Mongol Empire. New York, NY: Facts on File
- 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