Kislovodsk is a part of the Caucasian Mineral Waters group of resorts, and is the largest and most famous among them. The city is located at a height of 803 meters abut sea level. The city is surrounded by mountains from all sides that protect Kislovodsk from the winds. The alpine herbs growing on the slopes of the mountains clean the air and fill it with freshness. Kislovodsk is unique in its natural characteristics: Summer begins here in early May and ends in late October. Rarely does a day in Kislovodsk pass without sunshine. The city has about 300 sunny days a year.
The history of Kislovodsk is closely linked to its main spring of carbonate mineral water – narzan. The city’s official history began in 1798, when the first medical treatment season was opened. In 1803, not far from the Sour Well, a fortress was built from which the city originated. At the same time, there was gradual settlement of the district outside the fortress walls too. The first inhabitants were Russian soldiers and Cossacks. In 1822, using funds allocated by the government, and based on a design by the Bernardazzi brothers, a 2-story luxurious restaurant with a colonnade and a staircase leading down to the park and to the spring was constructed. A grotto was constructed under the stairs. Today this grotto is named the Lermontovsky Grotto. The restaurant had a vast hall for dances and balls, as well as facilities for visitors. The stone building of the Narzan gallery has survived to our day. The construction of this building lasted 10 years and ended in 1858.
Kislovodsk was quite green already by 1873: a promenade with pyramid poplars extended from the turn in the road right to the gallery. Behind the gallery there was a large and luscious green park. To the left of the gallery were private homes. At the end of the park, on the right side of the river, was a swimming pool built over a cold spring named Seven-Degree. Now in this place is one of the great sights in Kislovodsk — the mirror pond with the Glass Jet.
Kislovodsk’s population grew rapidly. Over 10 years, from 1881 to 1891, it increased from 1,551 to 6,000 people. Of great importance was the construction of the highway from the Mineral Waters station to Kislovodsk in 1875, and especially the construction of the railway line from Mineral Waters to the city in 1893, after which the city was already linked to the central cities of the country. This immediately increased the number of visitors, which required more housing and an increased water supply. Kislovodsk received hydro-electric lighting in 1895 from the White Coal hydro-electric power plant. A small factory was opened for bottling mineral water in 1896. Construction of the Kurhaus, which now houses the Large Philharmonic Hall as well as the Museum of Musical Culture of the Caucasian Mineral Waters was finished in 1895. Nearby in the same year saw the light building of the Kislovodsk Train Station was finished, which, together with the Kurhaus, is like a single architectural ensemble. The Russian writer D.N. Mamin-Sibiryak wrote about Kislovodsk: “The city wonderful, dispersing its streets on the steep banks of the river. The general is very beautiful and the magnificent train station would decorate any capital.”
The Narzan Gallery is the main drinking center of the resort. The Narzan Gallery was built in the years 1848-1858. The project author was the architect Samuel I. Upton, known for his work in other cities of the region. The Gallery was built in the center of the resort, above the Narzan spring, from local sandstone and dolomite stone. It attracts the eye with the rigor of its forms, gothic towers with battlements, and tetrahedral pyramids on the walls on the south and west sides. The openings are made in the form of lancet arches. These elements of decoration are characteristic of the Gothic style. The initial appearance of the gallery was lost long ago: many new additions were made in 1872. The openings of the facades were glassed in. In the old days in the gallery building, besides the recreational hall, there were also narzan tubs and pools, and a hotel. Today in the southern part of the Gallery there are drinking faucets. The spectacular decoration of the drinking hall comes in particular from the narzan well, lined with marble slabs.
The Main Narzan Baths are located near the Narzan Gallery. They didn’t receive the name “main” by chance: in the end of the 19th century, Kislovodsk had the Skalkovsky Baths – a wooden one-story building, which could not, of course, be compared with the beautiful new bath building either in appearance or in capacity. Thus the new baths were named the Main Narzan Baths. The building is characterized by ornate finishing, and the use of architecture characteristic of northern India. The molded cornices, architraves, and colored majolica ornaments and characteristic turrets on the facades give the building an elegant look. There is an especially beautiful décor of the main entrance, over which there is a balcony with ornate arches. There are semi-circular wings going away from the two-story part of the building in both directions. The figured metal tile roofs and canopies also adorn the structure, just like the symmetrically converging flight of stairs at the north wing.
The Colonnade is an original structure that decorates the main entrance to the holiday park. There was a summer restaurant in the Colonnade before revolution, and then a dietary canteen was placed in the Colonnade during the Soviet era. The Colonnade has been the main entrance to the park since 1948. The first floor consists of two rows of slender Corinthian columns arranged in an arc. The central part of the building has two floors. The second floor is a covered platform, formed by slender columns and towers above the stairs. Standing out against the greenery of the park for its through-openings and white columns, the colonnade is a good example of garden architecture of the classical style.
The Mirror Pond and the Glass Jet are a decorative pool with artificial waterfalls located in the old part of the park on the left bank of the Olkhovka River. The pond and pavilion were built in 1897 near the freshwater Seven-Degree spring. Initially, both the banks were earthen, and they were later laid with stone and plastered, and then cover with “wild” stone (travertine). When the water fills the pool, it climbs to the grilles, and flows on a tray under the floor of the gazebo and falls in two transparent as glass cascades with benches, covered with flat metal sheet. The surprisingly smooth waterfalls and streams are called the “Glass Jet.” The smooth surface of the transparent spring water in calm weather give this water body its identity.
It’s just 700 meters from the Mirror Pond to the Narzan Gallery.
The uniqueness of Kislovodsk is not only its unique climate and curative mineral springs. The city is covered in the names of those who used to come here and work, like Lermontov, Shalyapin, and other great sons of Russia. The famous resort has made a special stamp on Russian culture with its unique cosmopolitan flavor.
The Kislovodsk terrain course is unique both in its length (100 km) and by its arrangement. Dosed walking under an individual plan with climbing on steep terrain has been recognized by experts as one of the most effective forms of treatment. Walking in the terrain course has a strong beneficial effect on the nervous system and psyche of patients. Systematic climbing is a powerful means of strengthening one’s immune system, teaches one how to combine movement with breathing and relaxation, and has a lot more positive qualities as well. There are 6 main routes, and are differentiated in terms of length, the hiking trail angle, as well as the elevation above sea level. There are 3 categories of terrain courses depending on their difficulty, length, alternating sections of rest and walking, as well as the planned speed and rhythm. On all routes there are special stations every 100 meters that show all major parameters. Selecting a particular trail and setting one’s individual goals for the day are done by one’s consulting physician.
There are many scenic spots in the city and its surrounding area, all of which have many legends and stories. The Olkhovka Gorge has the Lermontov Cliff and the Lermontov Waterfall. The resort park has the Red and Gray Stones, the Air Temple, the Red Sun, the Blue Cliffs, and other unique elements of nature that one can see from the scenic path to the Small and Large Saddle of the Dzhinalsky Ridge. In the rugged Podkumok Valley and sandstone spurs one can see a whole city of grottoes and caves, among them the notorious Ring Mountain. The profile of the mountain range of the Greater Caucuses is visible from everywhere, and is completed by Mt. Elbrus.
To the west of Kislovodsk, at the foot of the Borgustansky Ridge, there is a large hole in the rock. This large hole looks like a monumental monolithic arch. This is the Ring Mountain. Seeing it from the train or bus window, you’ll want to enjoy this phenomenon of nature up close. This wonderful creation of nature has a vertical diameter of about eight meters. The ring, as well as the neighboring niches, were formed by weathering processes: the wind, sun, water, and frost destroyed the connection between the limestone grain, loosening the surface layer of rock. Grain by grain, the grit sandstone was destroyed and degraded over the years. Temperature changes play a large role in loosening the sandstone as well.
As for the identical spherical shapes of the niches, this is explained by the fact that the sandstone has a shell-like structure, and therefore is subject to peeling. There were many clams, fossilized mollusk shells, and bones of ancient marine animals in sedimentary rocks of the ancient seas. With the emergence of land here, the slopes disintegrated bit by bit, carving out niches. At the foot of the spur, you can collect forms of life of the ancient seas from the Lower Cretaceous age, 100-110 million years old. That’s the age of the sandstone too. The limestone deposits over it are younger: only 70 million years old. They belong to the Upper Cretaceous age of the Mesozoic era.
Archeologists have found a Bronze Age settlement and ancient kilns at the Ring Mountain. Much later the mountain was considered sacred, as people still could not explain the origin of such rocks. They worshiped the ring and made offerings to it. Echoes of the relationship of the people to the mountain ring have come down to us in the legend of the stone ring. It was believed that if a warrior on a horse could jump through the ring without touching it, then he would win any battle with the enemy. Unfortunately, numerous inscriptions have mutilated the primeval beauty of the “aeolian town”, as the Ring Mountain and the adjacent rows of niches were called by the academician V.A. Obruchev. But, nevertheless, one inscription captured the attention of researchers of Lermontov. It is made in the largest niche with dark blue paint. There one can read: “I visited your sacred grotto, as part of my vow… I’m rushing to you in my soul, invaluable, but I have no answer from you…” The inscription is believed to have been left by Lermontov’s friend M. von Tseydler. The inscription is badly damaged. Lermontov visited the Ring Mountain in 1837, during his first exile, and described it in the story “Princess Mary”.