Царский курган

Tsar's Mound

Useful Information

Location: Tsarsky Kurgan, Adzhimushkay, Kerch, Crimea. 5 km northeast of the Kerch town centre.
(45.3739, 36.526)
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Last entry 16:15.
Fee: Adults RUR 120, Children RUR 60.
Guide RUR 240 per hour.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Tomb
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: H=20 m, Ø=40 m.
Dromos: L=36 m.
Crypt: H=9 m, L=4.35 m, W=4.35 m.
Guided tours: D=45 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Address: Eastern Crimean Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve, 298320, Republic of Crimea, Kerch, st. Sverdlova, 7, Tel: +7-36561-64769, Fax: +7-36561-64769. E-mail:
Info, Tel: +8-978-085-04-03.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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4th century BC cave tomb built.
1833-1837 archaeological excavations.
2015 declared an object of cultural heritage of federal significance.


The Царский курган (Tsar's Mound) is a huge burial mound which was built in the 4th century BC. It is also known as Royal Kurgan or Tsarskiy Kurgan or Tsar's Barrow. It is one of the most impressive tumuli (kurgans) of the eastern Crimea. In Kerch and its immediate surroundings about 200 burial mounds exist.

The mound is a steep circular hill. On one side an embankment leads to a huge portal, a dromos (long corridor) leads to the burial room in the center of the hill. The burial chamber is rather small, with a square floor plan and a circular domed ceiling. Both the corridor and the chamber have a corbelled dome or arch, which means it only looks like a dome. The rocks of the walls were ofsetted towards the center with every row, until they finally meet. The construction is quite simple, but the walls are very elaborate. The rocks were hewn very accurate and they were set without mortar.

The Royal Kurgan, a masterpiece of ancient architecture, was the final resting place of a ruler of the Bosporan Kingdom. This kingdoem was founded in the 5th century BC from the Greek colonies in the northern Black Sea region and at the Sea of Azov. Which king was buried here is unknown, but most liekely it was Leukon of Bosporus (389-349 BC).

The kurgan was excavated between 1833 and 1837. When the burial chamber was opened it contained only remnants of a wooden sarcophagus. There were no artifacts and no body. Most likely the grave was robbed long ago. Also there were Christian symbols carved on the walls. So probably the grave rooms served early Christians as a place of refuge and as a sanctuary. Its also possible they removed the remains for this reason.

A museum at the Tsarskoye Kurgan displays artifacts found both in the tomb itself and in the nearby excavations. The museum has a lot of old photographs and sketches that were taken during the first excavations.