About tour: The road to the source of St. George starts from the village of Vinogradnoye (“Grape”), not far from Alushta. Here we can see the old roadside fountain. In former times, water was flowing through ceramic pipes and pouring out of a stone “handful”. On the stone slab, letters appear, in which the Arabic text is guessed.
The trail goes deep into the forest and soon acquires the features of an ancient road. Initially, it connected the South Coast with the foothill regions of the peninsula and has not undergone any significant changes over the past thousand years. But each new generation improved what the ancestors had done: people poured crushed stone into the roadbed, repaired retaining walls and drainage ditches, improved the springs. On this, in past, torn road, one more curious monument can be found: the supporting walls for the bridge, made of roughly processed boulders, without the use of a binder solution. The skill of medieval engineers and builders is deeply respected.
At each new turn of history, the road received a new name. One of the most ancient is Padishah-Yol. Its literal translation, “the royal way”, survived until the beginning of the 20th century. Old guidebooks noted that the trail was specially equipped for the organization of the royal hunt.
And now it's time for us to sit down to rest and think about the mysteries of nature and history.
Where did gabbro-diabase, a rock of volcanic origin, come from here, on the slopes of the Babugan-Yayla sedimentary rocks? Experts say that in distant geological eras, molten magma coming from the bowels of the planet “stuck” in sedimentary rocks and solidified in layers of sand, clay and silt. Subsequently, these soft rocks crumbled, and the petrified lava appeared on the surface of the Earth in the form of mountains of a characteristic mushroom shape.
The boulders, rounded by an unknown force, attract attention. It is known in geology that glaciers make boulders be rounded. Do we really see traces of the Great Glaciation here?!
But the main mystery is the Ai-Iori spring. For a whole hundred years, it has been the object of attention of domestic scientists. Hydrologists have established that the spring is located in the contact zone of shale with an array of igneous rocks. Obviously, this circumstance affects the fact that Ai-Iori water can change its chemical composition: during the period of rains and snow melting, the source water is bicarbonate calcium, in the dry season — chloride magnesium-sodium.
Professor Sergei Albov in the book “Healing springs of Crimea” notes: “The water of Ai-Iori contains nitrogen, rare gases, there are small amounts of silicium, aluminum, iron, titanium, copper, lead, manganese, vanadium, beryllium, fluorine, zinc, barium, strontium, lanthanum. Water is not radioactive.”
In recent years, employees of the Alushta Hunting Forestry have formed near this miracle of nature a full-fledged recreation area equipped by tables, benches, barbecue sites, pavilions. And most importantly, the font has been built, and now anyone can plunge into the life-giving icy water.
Important information lies in the name of Ai-Iori. The Tatar word “ai” is a distorted Greek “agios”, which means “saint”. “Iori”, apparently, was George in the past. We suppose that the source has been named by the church after Saint George, who was widely revered in Christian Taurica.
Not a trace of the church remained, however, you can try to determine its location. The temple could be located directly at the site of the spring outlet to the ground. Direct analogies to this fact can be seen in the chapel of Saints Kosma and Damian in the Crimean Nature Reserve or in the ruins of the Ai-Andrit church near the village of Generalskoe in Alushta area.
Another version for the church’s location is on the rock having the same name of Ai-Iori. This assumption is supported by a relatively large flat area at the very top. An attentive glance can see travertine fragments among the stone ruin. This stone is well cut, and in the Middle Ages it was used for laying semicircular elements such as vaults, arches, altar rooms in church buildings.
Archaeological excavations have not been carried out here, but the fragments of ceramics found indicate that in the Byzantine era, approximately in the 10th—13th centuries, a settlement, possibly a monastery, was located on Ai-Iori. Small dwellings huddled on the slope around the church crowning the rock. The monastery was protected from uninvited guests by a powerful wall, the contours of which can still be guessed on the slope. Experts determine its was 6—8 meters high. The role of the corner towers was played by natural rock outcrops.
The dominant hill was useful not only to the medieval inhabitants of Taurida. The Ay-Iori spring gave water to the partisans of the Alushta squad, which was based in these places in 1941—1942. The fate of the squad turned out to be tragic. Having withstood several battles against the invaders, the squad ceased to exist because of hunger. The partisans who had survived became part of other units and fought until the liberation of the Crimea from the invaders.
A beautiful view of the Alushta area (“Big Alushta”) and the mountains surrounding it opens from the top of Ai-Iori. During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), a partisans’ observation post was located here. A memorial plaque with the names of the fallen heroes has been installed on the rock. In a special container, the Memory Book is stored, in which everyone can write a record.
Price includes: Guide service (6—8 hours) for the whole group.
Additional expenses (optional): Transportation service: transfer to the starting point of the excursion and / or from the final destination of the route — the cost depends on the transfer route.