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Jun-12-2010 06:12printcomments

Enigmatic 45th Parallel

Fascinating story about historic churches from our reporter in Salem, Oregon's sister city in the Ukraine.

Images of rock marking 45th parallel and the various churches in the Ukraine courtesy: Oleg Shorokov
Images of rock marking 45th parallel and the various churches in the Ukraine courtesy: Oleg Shorokov

(SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine) - A Few months ago, a new sign was erected on the top of a mountain called Uzun-Syrt – (This is the mountain where Soviet air flying began) - the sign of the 45th parallel.

This line goes around the earth, having the same distance from the North pole to the 45th parallel, and also from the equator to the 45th, which also divides Crimea into two parts, across the Simferopol. It is interesting that the two sister cities of Simferopol – Kechkemet in Hungary and Salem, Oregon in the U.S., are also situated on the 45th parallel.

Maybe it was the reason for choosing them?

As for Crimea, it is enigmatically linked with Christianity on the peninsula. For some reason, many Christian temples were built sharply on this line, also in places hidden in a forest, or where people never settled before.

We will begin with a church in the settlement Mazanka – exactly on the 45th; before there were no villages, and only the retired Russian soldiers who founded 'Sankt-Peterburg mazanka' which is located here, and a place for a temple was obviously chosen not by chance.

According to the local legend, this is the place where a Sheppard found the ancient icon of Holy Nickolas, which mysteriously both disappeared, or appeared.

The inhabitants of the villages herein saw a 'divine sign' and decided to erect a church. Later, in 1890, the old wooden church was reconstructed, in the name of Holy Nickolas. The temple outlived wars and revolutions and continues to be one of decorations of Mazanka valley.

Next, the convent of Saint Paraskeva – another church sharply on the 45th parallel. A place for a monastery was chosen in the forest area. There are no records about what was here before; whether it was a settlement and a people generally lived.

This saintly place has surprisingly strong energy.

Thousand of pilgrims arrive here, to pray, to accomplish ablution in healthful water to think of the cherished desire. If thoughts are sincere - they likely will come true!

The Toply Trinity convent was found on the slope of mountain Karatau. In accordance with legend, Christians suffered for their faith this these places, with a Reverend Paraskeva. And in place of her execution became the healthful spring.

In the year 1850, according to sources, the saint the Bulgarian girl - Konstantina settled here. She prayed for the foundation of this female monastery tirelessly. She raised money to create a chapel, and in 1864, with the assistance of Innokentiy - the Archbishop of Tcrimea, a convent was opened.

We move farther east and discover the church of the Armenian monastery. It location is at a point equal distance between the equator and North Pole – and also in a deadly quiet place, the Crimean forest.

There are many legends about Surb-Khach.

One of them tells how in XIV, Armenians-migrants searching for a place for a monastery, were in a forest, four kilometers from Stary Krim, when they found the ruins of old lock; built probably, by Greeks, and blasted in XI.

They left in the forest one monk's hermit, in order so that his holiness will clean a place from evil spirits. How long he lived there nobody knows, it is known only, that in the middle of XIV grew the future bulwark of Armenian Christianity in Crimea. It is likely that God selected this place for them himself.

It is not always known how or why people chose places for temples; whether they had such good astronomic instruments or simply chose these places by a heart?

Besides, monastery buildings can be one hundred meters to north or to the south of a 45th parallel, but the actual church locations have no errors! Maybe, it could be useful to set up signs with geographical coordinates here?

It is strange that nobody noticed the features of some Crimean temples earlier –but it is true. It is also true that it was hard in the past to get a good map of Crimea, especially with a good coordinate scale.

But the map I used offered little in the way of 'discovery'. I was supplied with the special coordinate net for GPS-navigations. And that is not a system that commits errors: they are used by all types, especially tourists who lose their way. Today they can define their exact location with the help of satellites.

Crimea always attracts people with a number of riddles, and the number of them every year, seems to not diminish, but increase.


Oleg Shirokov lives in the historic Russian Federation city of Simferopol, Ukraine, which is the capitol of Crimea and quite interestingly, one of Salem, Oregon's four Sister Cities. We look forward to sharing more of his reports from a very distant, artful and romantic part of the world.

Before reporting news, Oleg work as the translator for 15 years, gaining valuable experience in specialized areas such as software localization, hardware, telecommunications and technical marketing. He also worked as the programmer for 8 years, and serves clients as a translator.




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