«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 Scythians and Karaites lived in Crimea, when Turks attacked harsh and majestic mountain towns such as Mangup Kale and Eski-Kermen, when generosity turned into 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 what life was like when Roxolana was still alive.
Then time travelers saw the cave city of Chufut-Kale, which was formerly called the Kirk-Or. There we heard an amazing story, more of a legend than a story really, 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 out 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 come to the rescue of the 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 lives. If you embrace the tree and make a wish, it will surely become true.
From Chufut-Kale, the 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 of a hand 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 could not take the city by storm. But one clever Turkish governor devised a plan...
The Turks were 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 coaxed him with gold, land and power, and asked him to open the gates of the city at night . The Turks said they would not 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: houses were on fire, streets were strewned over with corpses of the dead citizens of Mangup Kale. At sunrise, 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 did not 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 and slippery, but the rope was reliable and the spirit was strong.
There were many other interesting things, such as a strange dog, which was hiking with us and later helped us find the way through the fog, driving us in her wake. Then it suddenly disappeared, as if the ancient gods were helping them, and had sent a guardian from heaven.
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 fun games and everyone wished to visit them at Hubal Scout camp. Adult leaders were telling different stories and legends, which horrified and fascinated the group at the same time. And of course, there were guitar playing and melodies of Scout songs that will always remain in the Crimean Mountains, where Scouts will be back again.
By report of V.Izvarin, NOSU