Resort Arkhyz: historical and natural attractions
A weekend tour can see the natural or historical sights of Arkhyz in a short time. You can see the valley in all its glory by climbing the high spur of the Abishir-Ahub range. From the horizon a view of the entire pit: a village and a river valley leaving into the distance. From the height of bird flight, you can see not only the village, but also the nearby rocky peaks covered with eternal snow. On a clear day in the west one can see the highest point of the region — Pshish peak, in the east — the white hat of Elbrus.
The main natural attractions of the region are numerous picturesque alpine lakes. According to various estimates, in the vicinity of the village there are from 75 to 400 small and large reservoirs. Not far from the settlement, in the valley of the Kizgych River, there is a drying up Dead Lake. Travelers who are interested in natural wonders should climb the ridge Morg-Syrt. There, among the alpine meadows, is located Lake of Love — a small reservoir in the shape of a heart. The path to it from the village will take about 3 hours.
The 12 km-long Sophia valley to the south-west of the village is considered a religious place. Conventionally, it is divided into three sections. The lower one is a wide wooded part of the valley. In the center is a narrow gorge. To the south, the valley widens again, forming the upper section — Sofia field. Throughout the depression, the river winds up, the sources of which are pulsating, powerful, the largest waterfalls in Arkhyz. The key attractions of the valley, in addition to mountain streams, are the Small and Great Sofia Lakes. Another waterfall, which is worth seeing in the vicinity of the village, is Barite. It is located in a beam, in the upper reaches of which barite was once mined — a mineral for white paint.
Arkhyz district is famous for its diverse vegetation. In places, there are century-old fir forests, relict Caucasian pine trees and pine trees, yews, and spruces. The higher in the mountains, the lower the vegetation becomes: gradually majestic trees, reaching tens of meters in height, are replaced by low-growing birches. Then the grove goes into the thickets of rhododendron, and then into the alpine meadows approaching the snow-capped peaks.
Alanian capital and center of early Christianity
Many sights of Arkhyz are connected with the ancient history of the region. According to archaeological data, the first settlements here appeared more than 3 thousand years ago. Alans left a huge mark on the history of Karachay-Cherkessia. On the territory of the Caucasus foothills, Iranian-speaking nomads founded the state. Scientists believe that the capital of Alanya, Magas, was the Lower-Arkhyz settlement. The remains of a large medieval settlement were found near Nizhniy Arkhyz (Bukova), an aul located 24 km from the main village. Now this territory is a museum-reserve.
The area of the found settlement is 94.5 hectares. Once there, you can see the ruins of outbuildings, houses, blacksmiths, a pottery workshop, the remains of the road, abandoned mines and quarries. There are watchtowers on the mountain slopes.
Near the settlement there are mysterious dolmens — tombstones made of solid blocks of stone. It is believed that they were installed on the site of the Alanian burial of the pagan period. On huge, half-ingrown into the earth and partially destroyed plates, animals were scrawled, specific crosses, runes.
What else can be seen on the territory of the archaeological complex in one day? Other attractions of the Lower Arkhyz:
- Zelenchuk temples in the Byzantine style, built in the 10th century.
- The stone circle, which served as a pagan sanctuary, solar calendar-observatory.
- The face of Christ is a rock drawing created by egg tempera in the 10th century.
- Remains of mills and dam-conduit (Church gully).
- A hermit cave and a shepherd, traces of destroyed masonry (Church Mountain).
- The ruins of eleven family churches, chapels, chapels of 10-11 centuries.
- Phallic idol and Polovtsian statue “Cup holder” (right bank of the Bolshoi Zelenchuk river).
- Church of Shepherds, Shepherds 10-14 centuries (Church Mountain).
In the 4–9th centuries, a caravan road passed through the territory of Lower Arkhyz — a part of the Great Silk Road connecting Europe with China. Learn more about the events of those times and the role of the region in international trade by visiting the local museum. During the tour, the guide complements the historical facts with interesting tales. Tourists of Lower Arkhyz are offered to drink from a holy source, to taste dishes of national cuisine, to purchase mountain honey, famous Arkhyz berries and mushrooms.
Astrophysical Observatory and Academic Campus
The Arkhyz settlement attracts not only lovers of exciting hikes, interesting sights and picturesque mountains, but also lovers of the starry sky. The Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences operates here — an advanced scientific center with the world’s largest telescopes.
Optical instruments BTA and RATAN-600 for astronomical observations were created in the late 70s of the last century, but are now considered the best in their class. The first is installed on the spur of Pastukhov Mountain, the second — on the southern outskirts of Zelenchukskaya stanitsa.
During the tour of the Observatory of Lower Arkhyz, tourists are told about the construction of the center and telescopes, various astronomical objects. If you wish, you can watch the stars, staying in the institution overnight.
Ski and health resort
One weekend, of course, is not enough to see all the sights of the Arkhyz valley. The atmosphere in this place is so charming that you want to come back again and again. So that in the local surroundings it was possible to fully relax, in 2010 the Russian government decided to establish a ski resort. As a result — the last five years in Arkhyz has been actively developing tourism infrastructure.
Now, on the basis of five villages, a modern resort has been created for all-season recreation. Between the main tourist points there are two chairlifts and one gondola cable car. The complex has 7 ski slopes of different levels of complexity. The hotel base of the resort is represented by three-star («Romantic-1») and two four-star («Vertical», «Romantic-2») hotels. For tourists there are equipment rental centers, lockers, shops, catering facilities.
What can you do at the resort in the warm season? Popular with tourists are hiking and horseback riding, bus excursions, trips on jeeps, quad bikes and bicycles. Fans of various sports are waiting for tennis and billiard tables, paintball club, archery shooting range. Available in the vicinity of mountain rivers have to engage in rafting. Those who prefer passive relaxation will like to take a steam bath in the sauna or a portable bath on the river bank, and to take spa treatments. For children, the resort has an amusement park, a playground, and an outdoor swimming pool. In winter, you can go mountain climbing, snowmobiling, sledding, snowboarding and downhill skiing.
Rest in an ecologically clean mountainous area, undoubtedly, has a beneficial effect on well-being. Physical activity in the fresh air helps to normalize blood pressure, improve the functioning of the respiratory system, reduce weight, increase muscle tone. Particularly favorable conditions for climatotherapy are established from June to October — in the period with moderate humidity and a large number of sunny days. For health purposes, you can drink mineral water extracted from a well in the area of the village. By origin, it is the purest melt water of centuries-old glaciers, containing 18 useful minerals. Refers to alkaline mineralized form.