«Cave cities of Crimea» Complexity level 3
Route: Bakhchisarai - Chufut-Kale - Mangup Kale - Eski-Kermen - Syuyrenskaya fortress – Sevastopol
Walking distance: 68 km (Measured by a pedometer)
Dates: 22.03.2013 - 30.03.2013
The group: 33 scouts (Ukraine, Russia, Poland)
Weather: Cloudy with occasional rain and snow. Temperature: from -1*C to 12*C
It was an amazing trip. Scouts plunged into the medieval world, when in the Crimea lived Scythians and Karaites, when Turks attacked harsh and majestic mountain towns such as Mangup Kale and Eski-Kermen, when generosity bordered on frenzy, when everything was different.
The journey began in the ancient city of Bakhchisarai, which was the capital of the Crimean Khanate. The Khan's Palace is waiting for its next Khan, and now it is an interesting museum that could tell us about the life of the time when Roxolana was living.
Then time travelers saw the cave city of Chufut-Kale, which was formerly called the Kirk-Or. There we heard an amazing story and not even a story, a legend about the princess, the daughter of the Golden Horde Khan - Dzhanyke Khanum. When the enemy troops surrounded the city and cut off access to water and food, people began to die of thirst and hunger. This girl went out of the city and got precious water. When the enemy caught the princess and executed her, the Khan's cavalry had already came to the aid of citizens. Dzhanyke Khanum died, but helped the city to hold out until reinforcements arrived. Even now in Chufut-Kale you can see her tomb. Beside the tomb there is a tree, where the soul of the princess is living. If you embrace the tree and make a wish, it will surely come to pass.
From Chufut-Kale our scout group has gone to the great city of Mangup-Kale. Once upon a time, when there were no Turks or Tatars in Crimea, the Theodoro principality was situated there. The capital of the principality was the cave city of Mangup-Kale, which was located on a strange plateau (584 m above sea level), similar to the palm with four fingers. Many trade routes passed through the principality of Theodoro and the Turks decided to conquer it. But people from the observation towers noticed the enemy forces and all the citizens managed to hide behind the insurmountable walls. The Turks couldn’t take the city by storm. But one clever Turkish governor devised a plan...
The Turks are left with nothing, and again the principality began to live in peace. In fact, the Turkish army hid and waited. One day they met one boy - a shepherd. The Turks seduced him with gold, land and power, and asked him to open at night the gates of the city. The Turks said they wouldn't kill anyone; they just wanted to talk to the governor of the glorious city. The boy believed them and complied with this request. The night was bloody, the city turned into hell: the houses were on fire, the streets were dotted with dead citizens of Mangup Kale. When the sun has risen the boy saw what he had done, but the Turkish governor made him the most cruel punishment - he left him alive. Overflowed with grief and guilt the boy jumped off the highest cliff. But he didn’t reach the ground and turned into a little cloud. The Turks took away all the jewels and left the ashes of the city. Hovewer these days, when Mangup-Kale is fogged in, you can hear him crying ... Everyone who gets lost in the mountains or the woods around the old city meets the Mangup Boy.
The next stop of the group was the cave city of Eski-Kermen. There, scouts, with special climbing equipment, descended into the siege well. It was quite dangerous, every step was insecure because of slipperiness, but the rope was reliable and the spirit was strong.
There were many other interesting things, such as a strange dog, who was hiking with us and later helped us to find the way in the fog, driving us in her wake. Then he suddenly disappeared, as if the ancient gods were helping us, sent from heaven a guardian.
There was also a concert dedicated to the 25th Scout Crimean spring trip, when everybody showed something interesting. The Polish Scouts Michal and Kashka were playing with us fun games and everyone wished to visit them in the scout camp Hubal. Adult leaders were telling different stories and legends, which horrified and fascinated us at the same time. And of course, there was a guitar and a melody of scout songs that will always remain in the Crimean Mountains, where we will be back again.
By report of V.Izvarin, NOSU