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Author: Fomenko Alexandra, Yalta
Photos: Alexander Demin, Simeiz
To the peak of Aj-Petri
In the beginning of the excursion there is Yalta bus station, the beautiful four-stored building which was designed by the project of Tbilisi branch of “Souzproekt” company (architect- G.V. Chahava). The ensemble includes Derekoyka river, a bridge over it, a spacious square, underground crossing to the trolleybuses and the interchange. Along it we leave the town and drive to the aim of our journey – peak of Ay-Petri mountain.
By the way, this name appeared in times of Ottoman Empire domination (XV – XVIII). Before it was called the Russian sea. It was in time period when trade ways were made here by merchants of the Kiev Rus. And in more ancient times, in antique, it was called Pont Evksinos, which means “hospitable sea” from Greek language. There is information that before it was called Pont Aksinos, “inhospitable sea”.
In front of you above the woody hill a note is seen, like «HOLLYWOOD», - “ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN”. In the distance on the slopes a waterfall is noticeable. To the right the road goes to the private zoo “ Yalta ” where many different animals live. The neighborhoods of the zoo are frequently called Crimean Switzerland because of the likeness of landscapes.
Firstly the road was laid only from Yalta till the Ychan-Su waterfall (1872), then it was continued in the mountains. The leader of the project was engineer-colonel S.I. Shishko who solved the main problem of construction by carving the road into abrupt slope. In honour of the end of unusually difficult and responsible work emperor Alexander II who carried the construction commanded to call the “distinctive rock on Ay-Petri plateau in honour of Shishko”. In subsequent years the road was continued on the plateau and the Northern slopes and foothills to Bahchisarai. The construction ended under the emperor Alexander III in 1894. Since that time the road hasn't been changed much, it was only widened and asphalted.
Now we will make our first stop near Uchan-Su waterfall. It is full-flowing in spring and after the rains, and in summer there is almost no water. It is one of the highest in Europe (98 m). It is twice higher than Niagara . In cold winters the waterfall freezes and turns into one big icicle which hangs down from the ledge to its bottom. In 80-th years of the past century the alpinist (“Fantik”, Yu. Lishaev) firstly ascended the frozen waterfall. He noticed that it consists of many separate ice tube filled with water. Such construction is unsafe and can fall any moment.
The waterfall makes river with same name which runs through forest and vineyards and flows into the sea near “Oreanda” hotel.
An interesting fact: in June 1949 a mud-flow on Uchan-Su river carried out to sea more than 1.5 million square meters of ground per day. It made a coastal split with area more than a hectare. Then it was washed out by the sea.
Name Uchan-Su means “Flying water” from Turkic, the Greeks called it “Kremasto-Nero”, what means “black water”.
In the middle of the waterfall, between the cascades there is a water intake (a small box with a sculpture of eagle). Water comes by a wide pipe to the Mogabi reservoir.
We are driving on the slopes of Mogabi mountain in the pine-tree forest. The forest of oak, beech, pine-tree occupy almost 95% of the nature reserve. Only separate glades and areas on the plateau are forestless. The flora includes 1100 species of plants, 90 of them are endemics. Here you can also meet giant trees. They are oak, gew, alder, pine-tree, basswood. Crimea has more than 800 giant trees with circle more than 3 m.
To the left you can see the “Forester's mushroom”. Next you can notice a section of landslide which bended the pine-tree trunks. In 1964 this part of forest and the Uchan-Su waterfall were declared as nature monument of local importance.
On your right you can see a row of big gews and a former house of road keeper. This place is called Pendikul because the rock with this name is nearby.
Soon we will see a sign “Silver pavilion” which is located on the Pendikul rock (altitude 865 m). It was made in honour of builders of this road.
Nowadays such treatment is called “torrenkur” – measured walking, climate therapy while walking along the mountain paths.
What is Ay-Petri? It is hard to answer this question shortly. Somebody tells about the beauty of the sunrise. Alpinists and climbers, tourists and excursionists, speleologists and skiers will tell something different about this mountain.
The altitude of this mountain is 1234 m. How old is it? As every area on Earth, this section had many changes during 4,5 milliards of years. There were sea depths here which changed by warm seas with coral reefs along the shores.
The geological history of the Mountainous Crimea and Ay-Petri as its part is known from the end of Triassic period (about 200 million years ago) when the territory of modern Crimea was covered with water of ancient Thetis ocean which occupied most of the Earth (until the Neogene period). In latitudinal direction it went through the Southern skirt of Eurasia continent, region of modern Mediterranean , to the extreme North-West of Africa.
The rocks of Ay-Petri peak differ from the main massif. There is a solid, firm limestone, it has no layers. But somewhere there are interesting fossils – corals. The peak is a big coral reef. Corals live in the sea on small depth, but the thickness of the Ay-Petri massif is more than 600 m. It indicates that the bottom of ancient sea slowly sank, and the corals were to build there constructions to survive. Thousands of years passed and the period of rising began, and the coral colony finished their survival. The teeth of Ay-Petri are the result of eolation. The Mountainous Crimea as we can see it nowadays was formed in short geological time period- 1.5-2 million years.
An unusual construction is a globe on the granite ground. It is so-called “Ay-Petri meridian“. Its geographical coordinates are exactly defined: 44°28' of northern latitude and 34°05' longitude to the East of Greenwich.
To the right from the road there is a monument to the partisans of the Yalta order.
Not far from the monument, on the Shishko rock, there is a sightseeing area named in honour of the constructor of the road. Its altitude is 1182 m.
Not far from Shishko rock there is a small, made before the revolution, condensation water spring. On the Ay-Petri plateau there are much destroyed walls. Such walls were made in the beginning of XX century for snow keeping (the snow wasn't blown down from the plateau, it melted slowly and filled water resources). First walls on the plateau appeared, according to historians, in the medieval times for land dividing.
Not far from the rope road there is a cave equipped for tourists which is called “Three Eyes” because of 3 holes-entrances. In winter a lot of snow accumulates here, and because of low temperature ice preserves here even in summer.
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