Castel Mountain: the Struggle of the Elements

About tour:
Castel Mountain dominating over Alushta, at all times was an important point that allowed to control both land paths and coastal waters. Three thousand years ago, there may have been an observation post of the Taurus or a Greek fortification. It is reliably known that in the Middle Ages in the upper part of the mountain there was a castle of a local feudal lord, and a fortified monastery was located nearby. Since the era of the “Cold War” to this day, the summit of Castel is occupied by an air defense unit.

The trail running along the slopes of Castel allows you to see the Demerdzhi, Chatyr-Dag, Babugan mountain ranges which surround Alushta.

Gemata-Kaya Rock
A striking attraction of Castel is the Gemata-Kaya Rock. The surface of the stone is cut with vertical cracks. Brown streaks resemble caked blood. An extensive colony of lichens — plants that occupy an intermediate position between fungi and algae, give such a peculiar look to the rock. Like limescale, lichens settle in the unevenness of the rock, along which rainwater flows.

The view of the Gemata-Kaya Rock gave rise to a legend about a fierce battle between the Byzantine Greeks and the Latins Genoese, about Theodora who was the owner of the local castle, having died in the battle, about bloody streams flowing down the rocks.

Whatever it was, but in the thickness of the history of this mountain, Greek and Italian roots have been firmly intertwined. In the word “Castel”, the Italian word “castello” is guessed, which means “castle, fortification”, and the word “gemata” which comes from “blood” in Greek.

With its domed shape, Castel Mountain looks like a volcano. Indeed, Castel is of volcanic origin: in distant geological epochs, the fiery-liquid mass in the bowels of the Earth could not come to the surface and froze in the strata of sedimentary rocks. After some time, the rock covering the magma collapsed, and then the volcanic monolith itself, as a result of natural impact, turned into fragments — stone chaos. An old oak tree gives harmony to Chaos. It has grown up literally among the rubble of rocks.

Cork oak grove
In the forest surrounding Castel, you can see a grove of cork oak. This beautiful tree can be found in Crimean parks, but the grove is unique for the mountain-forest area. Cork oak trees were planted for half a century ago as part of a campaign to improve the species diversity of the local flora.

“Golovkinsky Granary”
On the seashore there is a natural “workshop” for the processing of blocks of volcanic rocks, which the sea washes away from the slopes of the Castel Mountain. The intricate movement of the waves gives interesting shapes to large and small multi-colored stones. “Granary” was adjacent to the estate of Nikolai Golovkinsky, professor of geology and hydrogeology, who was the first to describe this remarkable natural site.

Earth folds
A cliff overhangs the beach, made up of intricately crumpled layers of clay shale. These majestic wrinkles on the face of the Earth captured the power of the elements that raged here in distant geological eras. The whimsically curved stone layers let us clearly imagine the colossal forces that crushed the powerful solid like plasticine.

The township of Lazurnoye
The settlement of Lazurnoye
The meeting with Lazurnoye (“Azure”) is preceded by an idyllic picture: sea and sky, mountain and vineyards, and between them there are several pretty houses under red tiled roofs.

The definitely impersonal name “Lazurnoe” appeared in the late 40s of the 20th century, during the campaign for the next rewriting of the Crimean history. Initially, this territory was called “Castel Primorsky” (“Seaside Castel”) or “Professors’ Place”. In the 80s of the 19th century, the local territory was chosen by two prominent Russian scientists — hydrogeologist Nikolai Golovkinsky and histologist Alexander Golubev. They became the founders of a “cultural colony” called the Professors' Place.

“This is one of the most charming corners that I have ever seen, only the best places in Italy and Switzerland can bear comparison with it”, Nikolai Golovkinsky wrote.

House of Professor Golubev
Part of the estate of Alexander Golubev has survived. It is in a deplorable state. In spring, only wisteria thickets are pleasing to the eye. This plant in former times decorated the Wisteria Terrace.

Memorial cemetery
Several old cypress trees guard the peace of the first inhabitants of the Professors’ Place. In particular, Golubev's wife, Nadezhda Suslova, the first woman doctor and public figure in Russia, is buried here. The epitaph on another grave says that the baby Seryozha Chernov is buried here, apparently the son or grandson of one of the owners of local cottages (“dachas”).

Monument to Professor Golovkinsky
Working as the chief hydrogeologist of the Tavrida provincial zemstvo (council), Nikolai Golovkinsky successfully dealt with the issues of providing the Crimea with drinking water. The grateful zemstvo erected a monument to the scientist. The rock of the original form, reminiscent of both a cliff and a stream of water, is crowned with an obelisk made of Castel porphyry granite.

The monument miraculously survived all the cataclysms of Russian history. Partly due to the fact that it was aloof from the revolutionary centers. But there was one more aspect. If you look closely, you can see that the upper part of the image of the eagle protrudes above the lower one (the coat of arms was originally placed on two different stone blocks).

According to one version, the 1927 earthquake intervened in the fate of the monument. Allegedly, as a result of tremors, the obelisk had been moved, and after that people completed the work of the elements and additionally turned the obelisk in order to remove the coat of arms out of sight and save the monument to Golovkinsky from destruction.

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.
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