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24 February, 2012  ▪  Oleh Apostolov

Top 10 Mystical Spots in Ukraine

Ukraine is home to many places steeped in myth and legend. Some are ancient, others new. The Ukrainian Week highlights 10 mystical spots on the map of Ukraine
Gallery: Top 10 Mystical Spots in Ukraine (photos: 10)
Pidhirtsi Castle Hromovyshche Valley in Zhytomyr Oblast The Stone Tomb near Melitopol Lysa Hora in Kyiv

10. The Valley of Ghosts, near Alushta, Crimea

The valley stretches along Demerdzhi, a beautiful rocky part of the main range of the Crimean Mountains. Ancient Greeks called the mount Funa or “the smoking mount.”The current name Demerdzhi is the Crimean Tatar word for “blacksmith.” Unlike most mountains in Crimea, Demerdzhi is spotted with solid rock trapped in a base of limestone “cement.” Soft limestone parts have been eroded by water leaving sculptures made of harder rock.

These sculptures shape the whimsical landscape of the Valley of Ghosts. Over one hundred such formations alternate in appearance throughout the day as the sun’s position changes—from resembling human faces to images of animals.Sometimes, the stone figures resemble fantastic creatures and monsters. Some say the stone idols can scare even adults, especially at twilight when the valley is drowned in a thick fog.

Researchers claim that eye-witness reports of supernatural phenomena occurring in the valley on a regular basis are simply the result of hallucinations. They blame the effect on some local plants that release chemicals causing temporary psychological disorders. Researchers of paranormal phenomena, however, claim that the Valley of Ghosts is a paranormal zone with powerful energy fields.This has turned the southern slope of Demerdzhi into a pilgrimage site for paranormal fanatics and numerous followers of mystical wisdom from all over Eastern Europe.  

9. WerwolfAdolf Hitler's World War II Eastern Front military headquartersnear Vinnytsia

Werwolf was a miniature copy of the Wolfsschanze or Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s military headquarters in Eastern Prussia. Inconspicuous and well camouflaged on the outside, the Werwolf complex spanned several floors. The central zone included main buildings housing Gestapo offices, a telephone station, a canteen for the top command and officers, a swimming pool, 12 apartments for generals and top officers of the headquarters, premises for Hitler and two underground bunkers. The territory housed a total of over 80 surface objects and several deep concrete bunkers. Construction of the headquarters lasted from November 1941 through April 1942. 5,000 soviet war prisoners performed the most difficult digging work. They were all killed after the work was completed. The German engineers who designed the complex were also killed when the airplane that was transporting them back to Germany exploded mid-flight for reasons unknown.

Hitler visited his Ukrainian headquarters three times between July 1942 and August 1943. It was here that the Führer signed his infamous Directive No. 45 to take over the Black Sea coast of the Caucasus and Stalingrad.On one of his last days at Werwolf, Hitler approved the order to circle and destroy the Red Army units at the Kursk bulge. 60 tons of explosives were used to destroy the headquarters in March 1944. Fragments of the bunker, some weighing several tons, were thrown hundreds of meters away.

According to some researchers, Hitler had Werwolf built near Vinnytsia for some special mystical reasons. The Führer followed the advice of some 400 magicians, psychics and astrologists from the Institute of Occult Sciences in Berlin. Werwolf was supposed to become a powerful magic center uniting the fragmented European countries. It was there that the conquering of the world was supposed to begin. Bulgarian clairvoyant Vanga mentioned Werwolf as well. Researchers of paranormal phenomena warn that Hitler’s headquarters near Vinnytsia is an extremely dangerous place because it irradiates a deadly aura.

8. The Dominican Church in Lviv

The cathedral crowns downtown Lviv, a city as abundant in historical monuments and otherworldly guests as any other old European city.

Home to the legendary Lviv ghost and a national architectural monument, the Dominican Church was founded in 1749. Designed by the commander of the Kamianets-Podilsky fortress and Polish engineer of Dutch descent Jan de Witte, the cathedral was financed by crown hetman Józef Potocki and completed in 1764. Until WWII, the magnificent baroque cathedral was the central church of the Roman-Catholic Dominican Order. Soviet authorities turned it into a museum of the history of religion. Currently, the cathedral belongs to the local Greek Catholic parish.

According to many guards who quit the job after their first night shift, unbelievable things begin to happen in the church at midnight, such as loud sermons in the dark, empty hall, whose good acoustics enhance the sound of the otherworldly choir. The sermons occur on a regular basis lasting at least three hours. Books nestled tightly on the shelves of the church library often fall down and a typewriter clicks all night from a room with a cemented entrance. Such things have been happening in the church for the past few decades, ever since the basements of the complex were revealed and renovated. It is from these basements that, according to popular belief, the ghost of a Dominican monk blamed for the nightly disorder emerges. Frightened guards have reported spotting a translucent figure in a white cloak that continues his nightly routine as if unaware that he already belongs to the other world.

7. Alim’s Ravine in Crimea

Alim’s Ravine stretches along the Kacha Canyon shaped by the turbulent stream Kacha in the soft substance of the inner ridge of the Crimean Mountains. The Kacha Canyon is believed to be one of the most difficult places to reach in Ukraine. The rocky slopes of the marlstone and limestone canyon are dotted with stone capes hanging over numerous natural grottos. Many thousand years ago, these caves sheltered primitive humans. Another ancient site in the Kacha Canyon is a medieval cave monastery town called Kachi-Calyon founded in the 5th century by monks who fled from Byzantium.

Alim’s Ravine stole the spotlight in the 1950-1980s after researchers discovered a human settlement from the Middle Stone Age and unique petroglyphs created there over 5,000 years ago.

Despite its numerous natural, historical and archeological attractions, Alim’s Ravine has long been quite infamous due to the large number of people who get lost there, even though the route is a piece of cake for novice hikers. According to numerous tourists who have lost their way there, some unknown force made them wander for hours around one spot. There is a cave in the ravine called Alim’s cave that, according to legend, is home to the spirit of Alim, a Crimean Tatar version of Robin Hood. A few decades ago, people began to disappear there. As a result, the entrance to the infamous cave was closed down. 

Today, Alim’s Ravine is extremely popular among mystery hunters. Psychics claim the ravine is a center of powerful energy that can do both good and harm to an unprepared tourist.

6. Kaminne Selo in Zhytomyr Oblast

A place known as Kaminne Selo or the Stone Village is buried in the dense forests of Olevsk County in the North-Eastern part of Zhytomyr Oblast close to the Belarussian border.

Kaminne Selo is a geological complex of many huge stones geometrically ordered such that they resemble a village street layout. The stones are shaped like houses and one even resembles a church. Researchers still debate the origin of the stones because the surrounding area is flat and bare of any rocks for hundreds of kilometers. Under one official assumption, a moving glacier brought the stones there and the wind has been shaping them into “houses” for 20,000 years. What arranged them in their distinct orderly fashion remains unknown.The glacier couldn’t have possibly arranged the colossal stones in such a way. The questions outweigh the answers.  

According to legend, Kaminne Selo had been an ordinary village long ago. Once, a poor pilgrim passed by. He asked for some bread and water at one of the households but the owner kicked him out, as did all the other locals. Outraged, the man turned all of the houses into stones. In addition to that, he left his footprints – one huge and a few smaller ones the size of a human foot - on some of the stone homes. It turned out that the pilgrim was God. 

The trees around Kaminne Selo look frail, with perpetually dim and withered leaves.Unlike the surrounding flora, the plants inside Kaminne Selo have never been bright green. The most mysterious part of it is the stone with the so-called God’s footprint, since the pit of the “print” remains warm all year round. Rumors have it that the powerful energy of this footprint can cure many diseases and wishes made here come true.

5. Uzhhorod Castle

Uzhhorod Castle has been known since the late 9th century. Back then, it had been a wooden fortress owned by the local Slavic tribe of White Croats. Around the turn of the 11th century, the territory was annexed to the Hungarian Kingdom and the wooden fortification was replaced by a new stone castle.Its current look dates back to the late 16th century. Invited by the wealthy Drugeth family, Italian engineers carried out a complete reconstruction of the castle. As a result, it benefited from the latest fortification innovations in Europe and was never captured by assault following its renovation. It lost its defensive mission in the early 18th century. Today, it hosts the Zakarpattia history museum.

In the middle of the 20th century, Uzhhorod began to buzz with rumors about a ghost haunting the castle yard on moonlit nights. Night guards saw a white female figure on many occasions. Those who dared to get closer were terrified to find that the figure was completely translucent. Some say the ghost is the deceased daughter of one of the castle’s supervisors. Supposedly, she told the enemies how to get into the fortification through underground tunnels. Outraged by the treason, her father ordered to have the girl cemented alive in the castle wall. Ever since, her ghost has been leaving its prison and haunting the castle until dawn.

Several sermons have recently been held in the castle to stop the earthly wanderings of the otherworldly creature. Still, she continues to haunt the ancient castle on a regular basis.

4. Lysa Hora in Kyiv

According to an ancient Slavic legend, a serpent is twined around the earth and Lysa Hora, or Bald Mountain, is the spot where the serpent bites its tail.

Since ancient times, Lysa Hora has held great spiritual meaning for our ancestors, who had a pagan altar and shrine there. Even after Christianity was violently imposed on the Kyivan Rus, Lysa Hora remained a shrine for the followers of ancient beliefs. Later, part of it was annexed to the Pechersk Monastery to host the apiaries of Christian monks. Municipal authorities bought the land in the mid-19th century and began the construction of the Lysohirsky Fortress there in 1872. It was planned as part of a complex fortification system called the Kyiv Fortress. In the late 19th century, the Lysohirsky Fortress lost its defensive function and was turned into a prison where “state prisoners” would later be executed. In the 1930s, Lysa Hora became an underground military plant and a tank base during the German occupation. Retreating, the German army destroyed it. A missile unit was located here until the mid-1970s. In the early 1980s, the mount  was granted natural park status.

However, the park is a rarely visited part of town. The cautious Kyivites are afraid to venture far into the dense, dark forest, and with good reason. Those who dare to step foot on Lysa Hora claim that they feel extremely uncomfortable there. It feels like dozens of eyes are watching from beyond the park’s trees, and the stares are almost palpable. During the time of the Lysohirsky Fortress, the unit commander issued a strange instruction ordering officers “to warn the soldiers who go on guard to not be afraid of strange noises; they come from the wind and night birds.” Researchers claim they have found many reports from German soldiers describing abnormal and paranormal phenomena they witnessed. Soldiers would often go insane or commit suicides there. The infamous Lysa Hora deserves its evil reputation.

3. The Stone Tomb near Melitopol

This extremely mystical place is an ancient site that is part of the world cultural heritage located on the right bank of the Molochna river near the village of Terpinnia (“patience”) in Melitopol County, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

The Stone Tomb covers nearly three hectares and features rocks reaching up to 12 meters in height. This large and mysterious stone hill was a cult location for many ancient peoples and tribes who lived or crossed what is now Southern Ukraine. The Stone Tomb was used as a temple by hunters during the Bronze Age, as well as by Cimmerians, Scythians, Sarmatians, Huns, Goths, Pechenegs, Khazars and the Cumans (called Polovtsi in Ukrainian). Years of research have revealed several thousand petroglyphs in the site’s many grottos and caves. They are unique samples of primitive art, some dated to the Stone Age by researchers. Some Ukrainian and foreign archeologists have interpreted the petroglyphs as proto-Sumerian writing, which has helped the place to attract so much interest. Debates about the samples of the oldest writing in the world at the Stone Tomb still continue.

The Nazis considered the Stone Tomb to be the oldest site of the Aryans.From 1942-1943, the site was studied by the founder and leader of Ahnenerbe, a mystical Nazi organization focused on unearthing the occult experience of past civilizations. According to some data, the Nazis did not leave the place empty-handed, taking a few dozen tablets containing the oldest writing ever found on Earth. In addition to this, the Stone Tomb possesses a special energy. The area around it radiates pulses at a radio frequency of 5Hz! Energy bursts this powerful appear on aerial photographs of the Earth’s surface as circles. Geologists and physicists refer to them as mantle canals “drilled through” by what look like small tornados in the gravitational field radiating out to the planets from the Sun. Numerous electric devices have detected a super-powerful energy field there. Video devices often break and turn on and off on their own in the area of the Stone Tomb. All this is only a small portion of the mysteries hidden there.

2. Hromovyshche Valley in Zhytomyr Oblast

This small valley near Kupyshche, a village in Korosten County, buried in a dense forest, has lured researchers and those interested in supernatural phenomena for many decades. Inconspicuous at first sight, the place seems to attract lightning. The locals avoid getting close to the spot during rainy weather. Lightning has already killed nearly ten people there. Eyewitnesses say that strange illuminations sometimes appear in the valley at night. After that, a bright ray of light rises to the sky. Nobody knows where the ray comes from. Visitors who step foot in the valley feel its negative effect immediately, manifested in emotional and physical disorders.

Some spots where lightning regularly strikes are known as “the lightning nest.” Researchers claim this abnormal phenomenon is a result of weak electrical resistance of some parts of the Earth’s crust. Ancient people used to think of such zones as magical places where they arranged their shrines, performed magic rituals and made sacrifices. In the mid-1990s, archeologists began to work at Hromovyshche. Rumors have it that they soon found the remains of an old building made of huge stone blocks and many Roman and Bosporus coins of the early 1st millennium AD.  Who constructed the shrine there and how long it was used remains unknown, as does everything else related to this mystical place.

1. Pidhirtsi Castle

And the winner is… the famous Pidhirtsi Castle, an outstanding architectural monument from the 16th century. It boasts both great aesthetic significance and otherworldly residents.

Pidhirtsi is a village in Brody County, Lviv Oblast. The castle was built from 1630-1640 with donations from the Polish magnate Stanislaw Koniecpolski. The Pidhirtsi defense fortification is a combination of a pompous palace with bastions. It was once considered one of the best examples of a palace and castle complex in Europe.In the shape of a square with each side nearly 100 meters long, the castle has five pentagonal bastions on its corners.  

Before the soviet authorities came to power in Halychyna, the castle was owned by one noble Polish family after another. European monarchs, such as Polish kings Władysław IV Vasa and John III Sobieski, Austrian  Emperor Franz Josef I and German Kaiser Wilhelm I, visited the castle many times.

Rumors of Pidhirtsi Castle’s ghosts have circulated for several hundred years, yet scientific confirmation has only recently arrived.During preparations for the renovation of the castle and its park, all historical objects were photographed. Some pictures made in front of the basement entrance and in rooms of the palace feature a transparent human silhouette. Ever since, Pidhirtsi Castle has become a laboratory for researchers of paranormal phenomena. The team of Ukraine’s Psychic Challenge TV series has made some astonishing revelations. All 20 psychics said that the castle is full of ghosts. Later, Ghost Hunters, an American paranormal television series, visited the castle. Following detailed research using innovative technologies, their confident conclusion was that ghosts reside in virtually every part of the palace.   

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