If you like Switzerland, than you will for sure fall in love with this small, but picturesque town Svyatogorsk. Why do I compare it with Switzerland?! Actually it was the comparison of a great Russian writer Anton Chekhov, who always admired this piece of Ukrainian land and admitted that it’s a very beautiful and extraordinary place, where one can spend unforgettable time and enjoy the nature and its surroundings, enrich himself spiritually. By the way, not only Chekhov admired the today’s resort. A great painter Repin has depicted a lot of corners of "Switzerland of Donetsk” in his paintings as well as many other famous painters.
Svyatogorsk is located in Donetsk region, to be more exact at the border of Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov regions. It is situated on the river Severskii Donets and that determines to a large extend the weather in the city. Even in the hottest times one can easily hide himself from heat at the banks of the river. But this place is good for recreation not only in summer, but also in winter. As in this period of time one can enjoy the unique landscapes of the snowy forest and take a rest in a Ukrainian sauna or "banya” how it is called in Ukrainian.
Svyatogorsk is called so only since 1964. Before this year, it was called Bannoe. The name of the city is tightly bound with its history and monastery.
It was found in the XVI century by the settlements of the Kazaks and runaway Russian and Ukrainian peasants. Sometime later for the defensive purposes a monastery or Svyato-Uspenskaya Lavra of Svyatogorsk was built at the top of a chalky mountain on one of the banks of the river Severskii Donets. A great many of caves were dug on the territory and in the surroundings of this mountain. In the times of attack, the monks of the Svyato-Uspenskaya Lavra hid themselves in these caves. After being several times captured and plundered, it has lost its defensive meaning and after the decree of Ekaterina II it became a state treasury. The monastery was unbelievably reach and prosperous. That’s why it became a target of many noblemen. After many efforts, the monastery became the property of knyaz Potemkin. It was he, who has built a palace on one of the mountains and the baths for his quests at the banks of one of the lakes. Because of these baths (that in Russian are called "banya”) this lake (and the whole village) was called Bannoe. The water in the lake and the usage of banyas were so healthy that even Ekaterina II used to take a bath in the lake and go to the local banyas. In the end of the XIX century the first stud farm, turpentine work and sawmill were built there. At that particularly time, the use of mineral resources was found and the first visitors came there in order to improve their health. In 1964 the village became a status of a city and was renamed into Svyatogorsk. From the second half of the XX century, it is one of the most important and best resorts of Ukraine. One can not only improve his health, but also enjoy the nature and the opportunities that it provides.
If you want to get to learn a piece of history, you should take an excursion tour and visit the main sightseeings such as the monastery itself, caves of monks, monument to Artem and many more other historically important and even mysterious places.
At the top of one of the chalky mountains of Svyatogorsk right near the monastery is the monument to the famous revolutionary Artem. It’s the 22-meter long statue that was created in the year of 1927. The most part of construction of this 1000 ton monument was fulfilled manually and now it beatifies the mount. Moreover you will get one of the most beautiful views on Svyatogorsk from an observation deck that is a part of a memorial complex to Artem.
Near this monument one can find an oak of Kamyshev. It’s a dedication to the spotter who has bravely sacrificed his life in the World War II for the sake of his folk and comrades.
Between these two architectural monuments is situated a small, but very impressive church of all the Saints. It was recently built of wood without a whole nail. So it is worth of being visited.
As it was already said above the mountain, where the monastery stands, is full of caves. But not everyone knows that a little bit further there is one mysterious cave. In order to find it you should follow the path that leads from the church of All the Saints to the field, cross it and look for a hidden among the forest trees very spectacular cave. One monk lived there practically all his life long in a complete darkness, withought food or water. He ate from time to time the food, that the folk brought to him and drunk the rain water. He never left his cave and withought seeing the daylight, he became blind. But even after that he continued to pray for people all his life long until the death. From my point of view, his cave is worth seeing, especially for the people who are eager to see something extraordinary. This cave has preserved its primordial condition as after the death of the monk, nobody has lived there, only the tourists come and visit it from time to time. Even nowadays many visitors hear the prays of the dead monk and sometimes even see his ghost. So get prepared for an extreme tour. If you want to see an equipped with light and well-attended cave, you should go to the Svyato-Uspenskaya Lavra and take a tour to the modern monk caves.
If you want to spend some time in your friends round, enjoying the nature, you should for sure take a rest in one of the numerous recreation centers of Svyatogorsk or just go into the forest, make shashlyk for example and take a breath of the purest air. For the lovers of unusual recreation, there are even camp zones, where you can place a tent right in a wild forest.
And one of the musts, when you are in Svyatogorsk, is a resort. You should for sure visit one the local sanatoriums or health centers and take the health-improving procedures that you are offered to.
Not far from a monastery right in the forest there is a bottomless lake. A legend tells that nobody can reach its bottom and many from those who tried to do this either were afraid of something or didn’t come back. In any case it is wrapped with mystery. I would not advise you to repeat the effort of others, what I would advise instead is to find 14 people more (if you travel alone) and try to embrace a 600 year old oak (that is situated near this lake).
The lovers of active recreation can satisfy their desire by going rafting, boating or kayak-paddling on Severskii Donets.
If you liked Svyatogorsk, but you are still eager to discover something new, you should go to the Blue Lakes. These are artificially dug sandpits filled with transparent blue water, the depth of which reaches 70 meters. By the way there is a pine forest near the sandpits. So you can collect some mushrooms.
Not far from Svyatogorsk there is one more attractive town Slavyansk with the warm mineral springs. If you are interested, you can take advantage of them in sanatorium "Slavkurort”.
If you like animals, namely ostriches, you should visit Zakotnoe village. There is an ostrich farm, where one can not only watch the different kinds of ostriches and other animals, but also try an omelet made of an ostrich egg.
In the near of this farm there is small, but prominent town Artemovsk, where a famous champagne factory is located. One can take an excursion there as well as taste the different sorts of champagne.
And one more remarkable place is of course Soledar, that is famous with its salt mines. It is one of the biggest in Europe and purest in the world salt deposits.
If you go to Svyatogorsk from Donetsk, you will for sure note the regional landscape park Kleban Byk. The territory of this park is characterized with a variety of natural as well as artificial complexes and objects, which determine the pleasant recreation conditions in the park.
As you see there is indeed a lot to see and to do. So don’t waste your precious time!