On June 6, 1820, three carriages entered Goryachy Vody, a village hugging Mount Mashuk. In one of them was General Nikolai Raevsky, at whose name the servicemen pulled themselves into line and saluted, and in the other there were two young men of about twenty. One was the son of a general, also Nikolai, and the other was a collegiate secretary, Alexander Pushkin. The poet, who had never traveled before, did not want to start a dull service in Novorossiya, and under the pretext of illness, he asked for a leave to improve his health, going with the general's family to the Caucasian Mineral Waters. Drinking and taking hot baths lasted two months. This is how the poet's "southern exile" began. Of the famous people, Pushkin was almost the first to visit the resorts of the North Caucasus. He was followed by Mikhail Glinka in 1823, then many times Mikhail Lermontov, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov. The outskirts of Pyatigorsk and Kislovodsk have become the site of classic scenes of Russian literature.
Medicine of the past knew few drugs and reliable means for curing ailments. Therefore, mineral waters were a popular recipe for improving health. It was believed that drinking them, as well as bathing in them, relieves many diseases. By the end of the 18th century in Europe there was a tradition of visiting hot and cold springs - Marienbad, Carlsbad, Bath, Vichy. An important role in the trips was played by the possibility not only of treatment, but also of a pleasant pastime. A fashionable society gathered at the resorts, useful contacts were made.
In Russia, the use of mineral waters began under Peter I, who learned about them during his trips to Europe. Since that time, the waters have been administered by the treasury. The first known sources were located far from big cities. In the absence of decent roads and a culture of water use, individuals could not earn money on the corresponding services, and the government initially did not want to lose a source of income, even hypothetical. In addition, it feared the predatory exploitation of natural resources.
But water came into vogue a hundred years later, when the region of the foothills of the Greater Caucasus Range, in the future known as Mineralnye Vody, came under the rule of the Russian Tsar. Local residents reported on available sources. A number of scientists and physicians conducted research, including the famous Russian Germans - Peter Simon Pallas and Fyodor Haaz. The result was a rescript of Emperor Alexander I of 1803 on the recognition of the state significance of the Caucasian Mineral Waters and the need for their arrangement. At the same time, their development began. But back in 1820, the resorts were in a rather miserable state. As Pushkin recalled: "We scooped boiling water with a ladle from the bark or the bottom of a broken bottle."
However, nine years later, when the poet visited both Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk for the second time, the contrast was striking: “Today, magnificent baths and houses have been built. The boulevard, lined with stickies, is drawn along the Mashuk declination. Everywhere there are clean paths, green benches, correct flower beds, bridges, pavilions. Keys are finished, lined with stone; police orders are nailed to the walls of the bathtubs; order, cleanliness, beauty everywhere ”. One bath cost one ruble. What happened?
The Medical Department of the Ministry of the Interior, which was in charge of all the mineral waters of the empire, signed a contract with the Italian architects, the Bernardazzi brothers, in 1822. They had to equip the resort area. Their work was supervised by the famous governor of the Caucasus, General Alexei Ermolov. Most of the workforce was made up of his soldiers.
Bernardazzi carried out complex development of the resort, not only drinking galleries and baths, but also hotels, churches, planning neighborhoods and streets. Nicholas I, who visited Pyatigorsk in 1837, approved the work of Bernardazzi as a whole, chided that "the church is extremely cramped and does not correspond to the city in all respects," and ordered to give out annually 200,000 rubles for improvement.
Mineralnye Vody developed primarily at the expense of state money, which was used to create the infrastructure. Only in 1862, under Alexander II, the resorts were transferred to private hands. But this experience was recognized as unsuccessful, and in 1883 they returned to the previous practice, but now the Ministry of Agriculture and State Property, which leased them, was in charge of the Caucasian waters.
And already on the prepared ground a stream of entrepreneurs from Russia and from abroad poured out. Inns, restaurants, and all kinds of entertainment establishments multiplied. Posters were hung: “An amazing magician, acrobat, chemist and optician will have the honor of giving a magnificent performance tonight at eight o'clock in the hall of the Noble Assembly (otherwise - in the restaurant); tickets for two rubles and a half ”. In a year, Kislovodsk alone received up to 42,000 people, they rented up to 4,800 apartments. During the season, up to seven million bottles of narzan were bottled, and the wine shop sold vodka for 700 rubles a day.
Intensive construction in Mineralnye Vody went on until 1914. So, in Pyatigorsk in 1908, the merchant Zamkov erected the Bristol hotel on the site of Orlov's house, bought from the regional administration for 50,000 rubles. Historian Sergei Boglachev quotes one of its first guests: “Now I live in such a hotel, entering which, it seems to me that I am in Paris or Berlin. There are no such beautiful structures in foreign resorts ”. The rooms had telephones, electric lights, baths. In terms of luxury, it was not inferior to the Hermitage Hotel of the merchant Alexandrov. In 1894, the city council of Pyatigorsk banned the construction of wooden and adobe houses, which gave rise to a boom in the construction materials industry. Dozens of brick factories, lime-alabaster, sawmills and carpentry factories have sprung up in the vicinity. Whole dynasties rose on construction contracts.
Hydrotherapy developed in other regions of Russia as well. Quiet Lipetsk was a well-known resort until the 20s of the 19th century. The heroine of the comedy of Prince Shakhovsky "A Lesson to Coquettes, or Lipetsk Waters" exclaimed: "I confess to you that Lipetsk is an earthly paradise! The courtesy of the inhabitants and the charms of nature are more useful to me here than everything in the world of water. " In the west of the empire, Druskininkai was known, where the aristocracy of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus gathered, and near Pskov - Khilovo. Returning to the Caucasus, it is worth noting that its sea coast as a resort has not yet developed. It was difficult to get there - the railway along the Black Sea to Georgia began to be built only in 1914. As a result, as the Crimean historian Andrei Malgin notes: "Yalta was the capital of Russian resorts when Sochi eked out the miserable existence of a small Abkhaz village."
Crimean health resort
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