About tour: Khastabash is one of the largest water sources in Crimea. It is located under the rock massif, covered with the “crown” of Ai-Petri. During the snowmelt period or after the rains, Khastabash pleases with a stunning sight: a roaring rushing towards us stream, white colored because of foamed water.
The monochrome picture — white water, gray pine trunks, steel prongs of Ai-Petri — is a bit colored with bright glimpses. Scarlet berries peep out from under the sharp leaves of butcher's broom, and golden-yellow crocus flowers flash on the rocky slope. But the pines contemplating the icy riot of Hastabash are still cold, and some trees are tightly wrapped in luxurious fur coats of malachite-green ivy.
And here is the beginning of the splendor. A miracle happens before our eyes: the stone turns into water. Escaping from under the pile of boulders, the water literally “boils” and, in a moment, overflowing over the edge of the natural bowl, begins its short, but impetuous run to Alupka.
From the sources of Khastabash, the trail leads to the top of Alupka-Isar (aka Krestovaya Mountain). Here we have to think about one of the secrets of the medieval history of Crimea. The “speaking” Turkic name of the mountain gives a hint: here was located Isar, that in translation means “a small fortress, fortification, castle”.
Here is the top. The remains of powerful, up to two meters wide, walls of a clearly defensive nature are striking the eyes. Even in these ruins, the experienced eye can see different periods in the history of Isar: the first builders laid rows of very large stones in “cyclopean masonry”. And only next generations later built the upper wall using the different so-called “armored” method — from two rows of backfilled stones.
A huge piece of rock lying on the edge of the cliff is interesting. Perhaps it is a trace of an earthquake. Or maybe it was deliberately chipped off the rock and laid in the right place, to fall down suddenly, if necessary, to the enemies’ heads.
The Krestovaya (“Cross”) Mountain got its name in the 19th century, when, according to the instructions of the owner of these places, Prince Vorontsov, the cross was erected on the rock facing the sea. There are wonderful views from here. Below, as far as the eye can see, the endless sea spreads. The Swallow's Nest castle and Vorontsov Palace standing on the shore are clearly visible from here. And the Ai-Petri Mount hangs from above in half the sky.
Here you can see a wonderful “mineralogical museum”. Down the slope of the mountain there is Chaos — a spectacular heap of snow-white limestone, rocks of sedimentary origin, similar to ice hummocks. And nearby, literally ten meters away, gigantic blocks of greenish-gray diabase, volcanic rock, from which the Alupka Palace was built, stretched along the slope.
The path leads to the Mikhailov source. The source was named in honor of the founder of the Ai-Todor estate, Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich. He acquired the local land in 1869. Subsequently, part of the estate passed to his son, Grand Duke Georgy Mikhailovich. In 1904, Georgy Mikhailovich began to equip his own estate, which received the name “Charax” — in memory of the Roman fortress, which had been located here in the 2nd—3rd centuries AD. The construction of the complex of palace buildings was headed by the architect Nikolai Krasnov. The first building in the new Kharaks Estate was the water intake system. Following the chosen style, Krasnov built an elegant water capturing booth “in Scottish taste from local limestone in mosaic masonry with insertion of ornamental parts, carved from the same stone, and covered with English tiles”. Above the entrance there are inscriptions skillfully carved in a stone slab: “Mikhailov spring. Year 1907. Charax".
The water of the Mikhailov spring gave life to the Charax estate. Not only the trees planted in the park surrounding the palace have taken root well. A large orchard was set up on the farm, not far from the spring. The harvest from the best 20 varieties of apples and pears was completely bought up by the capital company of the Eliseev brothers.
The water capturing has been perfectly preserved — over the past century, only the roof tiles were stolen and somebody tried to shoot the stone balls decorating the pediment. Looking at the Mikhailov spring — the creation of the famous architect, gratefully accepting the great gift of nature, you think: how many troubles and joys have been flowing by, how many people this amazing water has been giving to drink to…
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.