Dagestan: “Matlas is not finished yet, but tourists visit the house of Peter the Great”
The decision on the revival of the Resorts of the North Caucasus was taken at the federal level, even before the return of Crimea, economic sanctions and the fall of the ruble. It was based on the fact that tourists would be better spending money in the country, and the Caucasus received another incentive for development. In accordance with the decisions of the government, nine resorts were included in the tourism cluster of the North Caucasus Federal District, Krasnodar Territory and Adygea – Arkhyz, Veduchi, Elbrus-Bezengi, Mamison, Armkhi, Matlas, Lagonaki and the Caspian coastal cluster and spa resorts.
Vestnik Kavkaza describes the resorts which have already been discovered by tourists and those which have just started to be constructed.
The Dagestani resort of Matlas in the Khunzakhsky District had to become a center of ethnic tourism; a natural museum for local historians and amateur-archeologists. There are ancient monuments. For example, the Araninskaya Fortress was built in 1867. There are dozens of mineral springs; their water cures kidney and stomach diseases. They plan to build the necessary infrastructure for mountain skiers. It will include slopes of big altitude differences and safe lifts.
Matlas is situated 180 km from Uytash International Airport in Makhachkala. The nearest international railway station is also situated in Makhachkala, 155 km from the resort-to-be.
Two years were spent on the projecting and presentation of the complex at various international platforms. Engineering, geological, environmental, and geodetic studies were conducted, as well as archeological and cadastral works.
However, residents of neighboring villages stood against the construction. They don’t want to give up local land. The problem was solved when people were promised to be socially supported; one such measure was the building of new schools.
But it wasn’t the last trouble for the resort. A year ago Vice-Premier Alexander Khloponin, who was the former plenipotentiary presidential envoy in the NCFD, stated that he saw no reasons for the continuation of the Matlas Project, as it was too expensive and difficult to fulfill. The main difficulty was that the snow cover in winter was insufficient for a mountain skiing resort.
However, Ziyavudin Magomedov, the head of the Board of the Summa Group which invested in the resort, offered a new concept and promised to invest 200 million euros into construction of a health-improving complex for the resort.
As a result, on August 16th 2014 a foundation ceremony took place with the participation of the head of Dagestan, Ramazan Abdulatipov.
According to the plan, hotel facilities for 60 rooms and seven separate cottages will be built in Matlas, on a territory of 200 ha. The hotel will have a healthcare center, spa complex, swimming pools, a conference center and a restaurant with a view onto the valley and waterfalls. It is required that in the future the number of rooms will increase to 140.
Multifunctional sporting centers, a golf course, an equestrian center with a stable and a riding hall will be built on surrounding territories.
The architectural concept of the resort was designed by the Italian Architectural Bureau Stratex, which is focused on environment-friendly materials.
Modern decisions and elements of traditional Dagestani art will be used in the interior design. “Along with nature, the land is rich with its culture, traditions and history. I think the place is perfect for construction of an environmentally-friendly resort; and it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity,” Laurent Colombani, the head of the Matlas Board, said.
Recently Ramazan Abdulatipov said that the construction of the complex should be finished in 2018. The payout period will take 5-7 years, if the government provides state guarantees in the form of tax benefits and a special economic zone is formed there.
According to the head of Dagestan, launching the project will increase tax incomes by 600 million rubles at all levels and create about 1200 new jobs, as well as increase the gross regional product by 1 billion rubles by 2020. “Nature and God take first place for Dagestan, the Caucasus and the whole world. Their alliance creates a cultural atmosphere which is different in different regions. Matlas is unique with its Caucasus and Dagestani culture,” Abdulatipov thinks.
Meanwhile, today most of the tourists who go to the republic are attracted by the celebration of the 2000th anniversary of one of the most ancient cities in the world, the fortress-city of Derbent. Recently, the Summa Group and the Charity Fund of Ziyavudin Magomedov opened the museum complex ‘Peter the Great's House in Derbent'. When Peter I visited Derbent in August 1722 a small house was built for the Emperor. Later it was called “Peter the First's mud hut.” It was situated 100m to the west of the sea and consisted of two small rooms.
In 1848, Prince Mikhail Vorontsov, the head of the Caucasus, ordered that the “mud hut” be fenced by a stone henge. The building attracted the interest of not only Russia, but also foreign travellers who visited Derbent, including Alexandre Dumas. In Soviet years the pavilion was used as a canteen and later as a residential building. For many years it was thought to have been lost. Recently, employees of the Derbent State Museum found it due to an archeological expedition led by PhD (History) Murtuzali Gajiyev. At the moment the house is being reconstructed. The museum has a hall for lectures; and a square in the form of a museum will be used for holding concerts and creative events.