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Best Story Contest My Ukraine – 2008
The Mizhnarodny Turyzm Magazine continues My Ukraine best story contest. Travels, impressions, experiences, meetings and adventures as well as descriptions of historic incidents, of architectural landmarks and sights, or anything else that may be of interest, can be the subject of the materials which are sent in to take part in the contest.
• The materials should be up to 5,000 signs (about a thousand words) in length, and written in Ukrainian, English or Russian; they should be provided with photographs or illustrations (digital or printed, of a size no smaller than 10 x 15 centimeters).
• The best stories and essays will be published in the Mizhnarodny Turyzm magazine and in the Welcome to Ukraine magazine (in English translation); they will be put on the website www.intour.com.ua and wumag.kiev.ua.
• At the end of the year a final short list of the materials will be compiled and winners of the contest will be announced. The results will be published in the Mizhnarodny Turyzm and in the Welcome to Ukraine in the first issues of 2009, and will be broadcast in the Nedilna podorozh Radio Program at the 1st National Radio Station.
• Before publication, the materials which will be sent in can be edited; they will not be reviewed or returned; no royalties will be paid.
The authors of all the published materials will be awarded with annual subscriptions to the Mizhnarodny Turyzm or the Welcome to Ukraine magazines.
The winners will be awarded with:
1st place — a voucher for a week-long stay at a resort in Turkey or Egypt;
2nd place — participation in a tour organized for journalists by the Mizhnarodny Turyzm magazine;
3rd place — a valuable prize
Materials for the contest should be sent to:
Mizhnarodny Turyzm Publishing House,
15 Klovsky Uzviz Street, Kyiv 01021
For further details call (044) 254 5190/91/93
In this issue we publish one of the stories that have already been received from our readers.
The Mysterious Kingdom of Feodoro
During my trip to the Crimea I decided to visit the Plateau of Mangup where, I had read, the capital city of the Kingdom of Feodoro had once stood.
Little is known about this medieval kingdom as there is very little written evidence preserved about it; luckily archeological evidence provides more information.
The Plateau of Mangup is situated on the south-western coast of the Crimea. It is higher than other mountains in the vicinity. At an elevation of 584 meters (over 1,500 feet, Mangup Plateau boasts the majestic ruins of the medieval city of Feodoro, the capital of the Kingdom of Feodoro.
Mangup and its ruins attract historians, writers and poets, and, of course, many tourists who want to learn more about the mysterious Kingdom of Feodoro. I was one of such tourists.
When I arrived at the village of Khodjasala, which is situated at the foot of Mangup, I found a guide who would be able to take me to the ruins on the plateau and show me around. He, a young man of Tartar descent, said we would be able to get there in his old jeep.
The meandering road proved to be in a poor condition, with boulders liberally strewn around and gullies cut in the road by water running from the mountain slopes during rains. I found it was plain dangerous to be riding along such a road and at several moments I regretted I had chosen to take such a ride. One miscalculation of the driver, one incautious move and we would end up at the bottom of the precipice. The jeep that rocked wildly and jumped at the gullies seemed to be too flimsy an affair to end the perilous journey successfully. But I’m an optimistic person by nature, and the light wind helped bear the rigors of the trip.
When we reached a certain point on our way up, my guide said that the rest of the journey we’d have to travel on foot. We climbed the shortest path to our destination, Gamam-Dere, which passes by a water spring. There is another path too, but it is gullied and dangerous to climb. A mountain streamlet runs parallel to the path. They say that in the times of old, hides used to be dressed there.
It took us about a half hour to get to the plateau. I felt safe at last to be standing on its flat service and my fears that troubled me during the scary climb were soon forgotten. The view was breathtaking — mountain slopes covered in herbs and wild flowers that exuded heady fragrances, picturesque valleys and other scenic sights still further below.
First, we headed towards the ruins of a citadel which was built at the site where a church had once stood with a cemetery nearby. There are some graves, which date to probably the tenth century, cut in the rock. The citadel housed the living quarters of the ruler of the city and of the garrison, and the basements were used as arsenal and a prison. Archeologists found the traces of houses around the citadel, and a well, 23 meters deep, sunk in the rock. There were also reservoirs for gathering rain water. I was shown the places where wine presses once stood and caves which must have been used for storage or as chapels. My guide seemed to be very happy to be able to tell me about all these things.
We met archeologists from Germany and from Simferopol, the capital of the Crimea, who were working among the ruins of the citadel. They told me that there were plans to restore the citadel to its original appearance. When I wanted to take their pictures, they did not mind but said they would not pose. It was even better — I could capture their images at work.
There were also several small groups of tourists, wandering about, looking at the ruins, going into the caves and enjoying the vistas. In one of the caves, I saw a small dog that seemed to be as excited as his master. That cave, Baraban-koba, is spacious with a stone pillar in the center to support the roof. If you strike it, it produces a sound similar to the sound produced by a drum. My guide told me that some time ago some Tibetan monks had visited the place and sung their mantras hitting the pillar instead of a drum.
I saw a series of caves that dot the plateau on its eastern side. The caves are connected with each other by passages and corridors but wandering in them did not look to me an attractive idea. I was told that a journalist had lost his life in one of those caves, and there is even a memorial plaque, fixed to the rock wall, that mentions this sad event.
I proved to be a poor mountain climber; besides, I had no proper equipment for that. Much as I wanted to get to some places much closer, I realized it could be really dangerous.
Standing at a place from which the view was particularly impressive, I could not help thinking that people who used to live there hundreds of years ago could see the same mountains and pretty much the same views down below.
The Kingdom of Feodoro is believed to have collapsed five hundred years ago, and all of its inhabitants left seeking refuge at more hospitable places. Fires did their share of destruction; ruins were used as quarries from which stone was taken for new construction. Archeologists are convinced that there is still a lot to be discovered in the digs.
Though I did not learn much about the Kingdom of Feodoro, I saw enough to last me quite a while. I was sorry to leave.
On the way back we stopped at a chaikhana — a sort of a Tartar tea house and tavern. To my surprise, I spotted there a little dog that I had seen in one of the caves on the plateau. For some reason it made me feel good.
I was treated to some tasty Tartar dishes. At the end of the meal, I was served green tea with local herbs. I sipped the tea looking at a lake which is often called The Lake of Those in Love. I did see flower wreaths floating on the surface of the water — they are thrown into the lake by the newlyweds who come to the lake to do it, wishing each other luck and happiness in married life.
Though I did not solve the mysteries of Feodoro, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip there.
By Iryna Litichevska from Kyiv
Photos by the author
Looking for the Servant from Dobromyl
Ihave found that you can combine three things at the same time: enjoyment, usefulness and interest. It’s simple to achieve — you just have to want it hard enough.
My friends and I recently read a novel written by Halyna Pahutyak, a writer from Lviv. The novel, which is called Sluha z Dobromylya (The Servant from Dobromyl), inspired us to set out in search of that Servant. We got together, decided upon the route we’d travel along. We assumed the trip would take the whole day. We took Ms Pahutyak’s book with us. We knew that Dobromyl in the Land of Lvivshchyna was her native town, and it would be a great fun to have her with us as a guide.
To those who did not read this novel I can say that it’d be too difficult to even trace the plot of the story in a few sentences. I don’t think that even the protagonist, The Servant, would be able to tell you what this novel is about. The three-hundred-page novel is packed with mystery, mysticism, philosophizing, love and treachery, despair and inspiration, death and life. The novel spans a long period of time of about 800 years (incidentally, the monastery in the village of Lavriv that features in the novel is about 800 years old; we visited that monastery, or what’s left of it, on our trip too). In the words of Halyna Pahutyak, “Good does not have a history. Evil does not have a history. There is only the history of the Earth which happened to be peopled with humans.”
I felt we had done a good thing that we had embarked on that journey as early as when we found ourselves in one of the central squares of Dobromyl, in front of the impressive building of the City Hall. The square was the scene of an open-air market which used to be what is usually called “flea-market.” You could buy there all sorts of things, imaginable and unimaginable. The cobble stones of the place were more than a hundred years old. Ms Pahutyak was convinced that Dobromyl was more than a thousand years old. You should go and see the old cemetery. The number of burials suggests it’s a very old place. You’ll see — it’s fantastic!
Dobromyl may seem provincial only to those who do not care about history, but we looked at Dobromyl through the eyes of the Servant and it seemed to us to be mysterious, hushed and very ancient. I’m sure the town has a great tourist potential.
After exploring the market, we went to the Dobromylsky Monastery which is situated in the outskirts of the town. We recognized many sights of the monastery from the pictures we had seen in the book. The local priest Makariy welcomed us and showed us the monastery’s church and the bell tower. Flower beds boasted purple-red roses; in the distance I could see the mountains covered with dense forests. The time seemed to have stopped in the monastery — only the loud barking of a chained dog reminded me that I was not leafing through a book with pictures but actually was in the reality of “here and now.” I could not help remembering the passage from the novel which began like this, "The world around us is so beautiful & unfortunately we often fail to see its beauty" Being there, in the monastery made me see and feel this beauty.
From the monastery we headed towards the Herburts’ Castle which is situated close to Dobromyl. The winding road took us past an old well. The picturesque ruins of the castle made us want to take pictures — which we duly did, and not only of the ruins but of the scenic landscape around.
It started to rain and we found shelter in the passage under the entrance gate. The way down from the castle to the road seemed shorter than the way up to the castle. I imagined riders galloping downhill, with the Servant among them. The author must have known the place well because her descriptions fit excellently what I saw. I wished I could meet the former owners of the castle and ask them about the Servant who, the novel said, was sure that “there are three worlds heaven, earth and underground and there are ways of communicating among all of them.”
At the place called Stara Sil we saw a big, old Polish church half-ruined by time and vandals; the grey-stone figures looked at us from the walls. We were allowed to go in and the keeper kindly opened the door for us. On the interior walls some old frescoes can still be discerned through the patina of time.
Then we took a look at what used to be called Villa Anna which is situated almost next door to the ruined church. The villa is not in private ownership any longer — several decades ago it was turned into a hospital.
Stara Sil (the name translates as “Old Salt”) still bears traces of the production of salt which used to be the place’s main business.
In the village of Lavriv, which is situated about a dozen kilometers from the town of Stary Sambor we discovered an old church, Onufriyivska, which dates from the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The church belonged to a monastery which was burned down in the mid-sixteenth century. The church survived the fire and old frescoes still decorate its walls. For some reason still another phrase from Pahutyak’s book came to my mind, “Those who are afraid to love because they are afraid to lose it, are worse than those who want to love but can’t.”
We did not have time to go to the village of Spas, which had a monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Ukraine, established there in the thirteenth century, and I felt sorry we didn’t. I’d read that in the dungeon of the monastery, which doubled as a fort, prisoners and outcasts were kept. The construction of the monastery is believed to have been financed by Prince Lev, the ruler of Lviv. Pahutyak’s book says that he spent the last years of his life in the monastery he had founded.
We headed back home when the evening twilight had already begun to creep in. The lights began to be turned on in the houses, and the heavenly lights — the stars — were also turned on by an invisible hand. The Servant from Dobromyl says at the end of the novel, “I saw the reflections of the stars in the still water of the lake, and realized it was a sign given to me. Do you understand?” I wanted to reply, “Yes, I do.”
The lights of Lviv welcomed us back in.
By O. KRYSHTALEVA (from Lviv)
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