Karadag is a range of mountains and hills in the eastern part of the southern coast of the Crimea. «Karadag» is a Turkic word which translates as «Black Mountain.» It was the name originally given to the highest peak of the mountain range (the mountains of the area are not high; the peak, which is now called Saint Mount, rises to only about 1,500 feet above the sea level) and later the entire range and adjacent territory came to be called «Karadag.»
The southern coast of the Crimea is known for the beauty of its landscapes which combine mountains, forests and sea but even so Karadag stands out asan exceptionally beautiful place. Many poets, writers and painters have come to Karadag to seek inspiration here. The crags towering above the turquoise sea have never failed to impress all those who come to Karadag. In the early twentieth century a writer described Karadag in these words: «Karadag is a charming place, it seems to belong to the fairy-tale world rather than to the world of our harsh reality. Viewed from the sea, it looks forbidding, awesome, impenetrable. But it changes its aspect completely if viewed from the side of Otuz — Karadag looks like a gigantic concave sea shell, the edge of which, turned inland, protects it from the cold north and bitter east winds. Karadag possesses a wild beauty which is unparalleled anywhere else in the Crimea. The majestic mountain range of Karadag draws the gaze like a magnet — some of the aspects of it are ragged, bleak and,stern, others are gentle, soothing,covered with green vegetation, still others stir imagination with strangely shaped rocks and cliffs, precipitous gorges, chaotic, fantastic scenery.»
Now Karadag is a Natural Preserve of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. As far back as 1914 a sort of a nature-research station was set up in Karadag by Terentiy Vyazemsky, an associate professor of Moscow University and neuro-pathologist, and since then «bio-station»(biological station), as it has usually been referred to, has been doing research, growing, changing names. In May 1997 the Karadag Natural Preserve was granted a considerable degree of independence.

Building of the Biological Station.


Lava Rock in the Sea.


Golden Gate and Cave Town in Karadag.
Geology of Karadag
The Karadag volcanic range is unique in many respects and geologists often call it «a geological museum» created by Nature rather than by man. The geological structure of the mountain range, which in some places is open to the naked eye, makes it possible to trace the geological history of the area back into the past for a hundred and fifty million years.

Sea Animals Show.
Karadag can be regarded as a treasure house of all kinds of minerals. Out of 130 minerals, discovered to this date in the Crimea, 50 have been found in Karadag, several dozens of varieties of quartz, chalcedony and opal among them.
Karadag is the only place in the countries of Eastern and Western Europe where one can find such a wide range of minerals of the zeolite group. Mordenite, a zeolite found in minute crystals or fibrous concretions, is rock-forming of the trass minerals which are jasper-like volcanic tuffs of blue-green, green, grey and brown colours, often with stripe or landscape-like patterns.
Different varieties of quartz, chalcedony, opal and jasper are excellently suited for use for ornamental purposes and in jewellery. Among the better known quartzes Karadag has deposits of rock crystal, amethyst and citrine. Chalcedonies of Karadag are among the best in Europe as far as their colour and beauty are concerned. Particularly good are Karadag cornelians and agates. Opals are represented in Karadag by several varieties with a wide range of colours and textures.
Many experts are of the opinion that jaspers of Karadag are in many respects better than those that come from the Ural mountains in Russia. A variety of jasper, discovered as late as in 1960, for its special textural qualities was called «brocade jasper.» Unfortunately this variety of jasper, a very rare kind of unsurpassed beauty, has almost completely been exhausted because of the amateurish approach in the sixties and seventies to the mining of minerals. But even today one can still come across occasional pieces of «brocade jasper» on the beaches of many Karadag bays among the pebbles covering them. In this connection it should be mentioned that up to 1979, in the Soviet times, Karadag was continuously subjected to badly controlled mining and thus had been robbed of many of its minerals and semiprecious stones. Now the situation has changed, Ukraine as an independent state exercises a better control of its resources, but what has been lost in Karadag is irrevocable.

Chameleon.


Python from the Exotic Animals Exhibition.


Sea Crab.

Flora and Fauna
Karadag is rich not only in minerals and exciting landscapes. Its fauna and flora, due to the fact that it happens to be situated at the junction of the forest, mountain, steppe and sub-Mediterranean zones, are as no less varied than its minerals. In the territory of the Karadag Natural Preserve one finds steppe, areas sparsely covered with trees and dense shady forests that look almost impenetrable. Hundreds upon hundreds of species of plants turn Karadag into a paradise for botanists. In fact, about half of all the species of plants to be found in the Crimea grow in Karadag. Over 12,000 species of insects, 15 species of amphibia, 190 species of birds and 30 species of mammals make up the animal world of Karadag. Entomologists claim that 1630 species of butterflies can be found only in Karadag. In the coastal waters that belong to the Preserve there live more than 1000 species of sea creatures, among them over 120 species of fish. Once again, such a wide variety of aquatic animals make Karadag a place to study the life of at least fifty percent of all the species of marine life that live along the Southern coast of the Crimea. 45 species of plants and 117 species of animals that live in Karadag have been entered into the Red Book of Ukraine and are protected particularly carefully.
The Preserve has been established with an express purpose of protecting and preserving the wild life, mineral riches and landscapes of this unique area of the Crimean Southern coast. The contiguous part of the Black Sea is taken care of as well. At the same time it is highly desirable to let as many people as possible see Karadag’s unique geological and biological features, its natural beauty. A lot of work has been done to open access for tourists to some of the very few remaining jasper veins and hopefully soon enough the first guided tours will be organized for visitors to see them. But even today anybody who so desires can join a tour, led by a professional and knowledgeable guide, walk along «the ecological paths», see the most interesting and beautiful places of Karadag, and be informed of its history, archaeological finds and geological make-up. At the central estate of the Karadag Preserve there is a museum which exhibits exotic animals from around the world, Black Sea aquatic animals and water plants in aqauria. Members of the museum staff will gladly provide qualified answers to visitors’ questions.
A section of the museum is entirely devoted to Karadag itself. Shows with dolphins and fur seals trained to perform before the audiences are organized for visitors at the Karadag large marine aquarium. An excellent library of the Karadag Research Centre has in its specialized collection, part of which goes back to the times of Vyazemsky, the original founder of «the bio-station» at Karadag, books that were published as long ago as in the seventeenth century and a picture gallery exhibits paintings of well-known artists who have been inspired by the natural marvels of Karadag and then presented their works to the Preserve as gifts.
The Preserve has been established with an express purpose of protecting and preserving the wild life, mineral riches and landscapes of this unique area of the Crimean Southern coast. The contiguous part of the Black Sea is taken care of as well. At the same time it is highly desirable to let as many people as possible see Karadag’s unique geological and biological features, its natural beauty. A lot of work has been done to open access for tourists to some of the very few remaining jasper veins and hopefully soon enough the first guided tours will be organized for visitors to see them. But even today anybody who so desires can join a tour, led by a professional and knowledgeable guide, walk along «the ecological paths», see the most interesting and beautiful places of Karadag, and be informed of its history, archaeological finds and geological make-up. At the central estate of the Karadag Preserve there is a museum which exhibits exotic animals from around the world, Black Sea aquatic animals and water plants in aqauria. Members of the museum staff will gladly provide qualified answers to visitors’ questions. A section of the museum is entirely devoted to Karadag itself. Shows with dolphins and fur seals trained to perform before the audiences are organized for visitors at the Karadag large marine aquarium. An excellent library of the Karadag Research Centre has in its specialized collection, part of which goes back to the times of Vyazemsky, the original founder of «the bio-station» at Karadag, books that were published as long ago as in the seventeenth century and a picture gallery exhibits paintings of well-known artists who have been inspired by the natural marvels of Karadag and then presented their works to the Preserve as gifts.
A curious tourist, an inquisitive geologist, an environment-protection champion, a research biologist — they all of them will find a lot of exciting things to do and see at Karadag.

Reported by Volodymyr A. Emelyanov, Ph.D.,
Curator of the Karadag Natural Preserve
of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Photos by Mykhailo Andreyev.