To Yessentuki for a samovar
Yana Vinetskaya, exclusively to Vestnik Kavkaza
Development of Yessentuki, one of the Caucasian Mineral Waters’ resorts, began significantly later than development of Kislovodsk, Pyatigorsk, and Zheleznovodsk. Even though first springs in Yessentuki were discovered by a doctor and philanthropist Fyodor Gaaz in 1811, only in 1823 they received significant attention when they were described by Pr. Alexander Nelyubin from the St.-Petersburg Medical-Surgical Academy. Yessentuki became popular in 1846 when they were given under control of the Caucasus prince Mikhail Vorontsov. His name is connected with the initiative to sell bottled mineral water. In the 1860s bottles of Yessentuki water could be bought in Moscow, St.-Petersburg, Rostov, Vladikavkaz, and Tiflis.
In the second half of the 19th century several high-class hotels were built in Yessentuki. The tourist flow grew after the end of construction of the railroad between Kavminvody and Kislovodsk in 1893. It is interesting that a guide book of 1885 noted that Yessentuki “stands lower than other Caucasian resorts,” but in 1913 Grigory Mosckvich wrote on a tourist boom: “If in 1903 there were only 8 thousands of the sick (a bit more than in Pyatigorsk), in 1912 their number was 15 thousand.”
“Such growing popularity of Yessentuki is connected with its natural treasures. Medical resources of Yessentuki have gained a great variety of facilities in recent 10 years – special and common: balneal centers are numerous and high-class; the square of gardens was doubled; the hotel and many private apartments were constructed; cuisines are various; entertainments are amusing,” Moskvich explained popularity of Yessentuki.
Along with hotels, country cottages were being built intensively. “Official public summer cottages which include luxurious houses and resort houses are competitive to Western European resorts. Macadamized streets banded with trees make the landscape attractive,” Moskvich wrote.
The mineral wells of Yessentuki were famous for their healing property which was especially effective for curing gastric diseases and kidney and liver diseases. “One of big advantages of Yessentuki is huge steppes around Yessentuki, as well as fresh air, beautiful climate, absence of sultriness and heat, well still water, and so on,” Moskvich wrote.
The majority of entertainments for tourists were concentrated in the garden where a symphonic orchestra played twice a day. One could also do physical exercises, play tennis or crocket, ride bicycle, and study in a library which contained 1500 books. The 17th gallery’s theater organized concerts, performances, dancing nights, and various games – both for children and grown-ups.
Tourists could also visit the Svistun Mountain which was called for wind blowing from its peak. One enjoyed an excursion through Staritsky’s bee yard, the Beshtau Mountain, watched the Vorontsov Bridge across the Podumok River. The most unusual excursion was a visit to the valley of “Kirkili” where tourists could buy a samovar, according to Moskvich.