Clan towers – родовые башни – or, named after the people building them, Vainakh towers, combined multiple functions. They were living towers, impregnable fortifications, watchtowers dominating the valley controlled by the clan. And last but not least sacred asylums where blood-revenge was forbidden. Ismail Kadare in his Broken April tangibly describes the asylum towers that once stood all over the Albanian mountains and where men sometimes lived for years without ever coming out.More information at the link. And more photos. I find the landscape almost as fascinating as the architecture.
The towers have generally three to four floors. The first level – or, in four-storey towers, the first two levels – are the stall, in the latter case the second level is for the goats and sheep. The next floor is the living room, here’s the stove. The top floor serves for larder, treasure-house and armory as well as for guest accommodation, with projecting balconies for the ease of control...
The oldest surviving towers were built dry, but since the 16th and 17th century, the golden age of tower building – which was a period of turbulent external and internal wars in the Caucasus – they were reinforced with mortar. The internal structures, gates and shutters were made of oak, while the floors of pine wood. Beginning with the 16th century, loopholes became more and more frequent, which helps the researchers to reconstruct the spreading of firearms in the Caucasus...
Nowadays, most towers are uninhabited. The clan wars and external threats being over, the Ingushes went down to live in the more fertile river valleys. There are only a few old people sticking to their dwelling place or some shepherds left around to take care of them.
Additional information about Ingushetia is contained in another post at the same blog:
Ingushetia broke away from the Chechen-Ingush Republic in 1992. This is how the Russian government wanted to isolate the more pacific part of the republic from the Chechens, at that time in war against the Russians...More at the link, including some photos of, and observations about, Ingush weddings.
the western neighbor, Northern Ossetia: this is the egg-shaped hole on the map of the republic.