The highest point in Ukraine, heart of the Carpathians, and simply a dream of many hikers, Hoverla Mountain has been standing proud for centuries. Its history is full of legends, and nowadays the nearby lying Vorokhta is one of the most popular resorts in Ukraine. What else is there to explore? Let’s find out.
History of Hoverla Moutain
Even the etymology of the mountain’s name envelops those curious in an old legend — once upon a time, a wealthy Magyar count heard about a mysterious nameless mountain, and desired to reach its peak. He assembled a squad of his peasants, and went on a journey, ignorant of the mountain’s tricky ways, nor that many shepherds regularly visited it. A huge blizzard took away lives of the count’s squad, and those who survived, returned home, mumbling only “Hoverla, Hoverla…” — which means “snow mountain” in Hungarian.
Another legend turns geography into a love story: long, long time ago lived a girl named Hoverla, and a young man named Prut. They fancied each other and fell in love quickly. Alas, Hoverla wasn’t a simple girl — she was a daughter of Mountain King. Upon finding out about the youngling’s relationship, Mountain King turned his daughter into a mountain, so that no man could have her. One of the local warlocks told Prut there was a way to get his love back — he only needed to get to the peak before sunrise. Prut climbed in a hurry, wishing to see his love again, but the mountain was too high, and he was late. Desperate, he started crying for his love and turned into a river. Nowadays, Prut and Hoverla are inseparable —some stories have a happy ending after all.
Those are just two of countless legends about Hoverla Mountain, known the best in Ukraine.
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Hoverla is located in a mountain ridge called Chornohora, one of most popular hiking sites in Ukraine. It is not surprising that the highest mountain in Ukraine, peaking at 2061 meters, lures in thousands alpinists and hikers.
Climbing here is allowed from May to November, when the weather in Ukraine stabilizes and risk of blizzard or avalanche is minimum. There are several climbing routes, which vary in length - from 10 to 16 kilometers, and height of rise - from 1150 to 1350 meters. The natural wonders of Hoverla begin on the slopes already: hikers are met by the largest in Ukraine waterfall, which falls from 80 meters height, and a forest full of trees that have seen the long history of the place — many of them are more than 400 years old. Hoverla is located on the territory of two natural reserves: Carpathian Biosphere Reserve and Carpathian National Nature Park. That’s why so many rare plants and flowers that belong to the list of endangered in Ukraine can be observed here. Mountain’s slopes are covered with beech and spruce forests, and closer to peak starts the famous polonyna — an area of alpine meadows that charmed many artists, poets and common people throughout the years of Hoverla’s existence.
Those who reach the peak are fully rewarded with a 360° panorama, that shows the whole Chornohora ridge, dots of mountain villages, streams and lakes. Unique color palette of the view, where dark green is layered with blue, inspired numerous artists and photographers. No matter the season, peak of the mountain is always covered with snow, which sometimes surprises unprepared summer hikers.
Apart from being one of the most desired hiking spots, Hoverla and its surroundings is also a highly visited tourism site of Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine. The closest point to the mountain is a small Vorokhta village, that despite its size is one of the most well-known spa resorts in Ukraine, as well as skiing jump spots. Three mountains surround a home for 14 thousand people, Vorokhta: Hoverla, Petros (2020 meters) and the second highest peak of Ukraine Brebeneskul (2032 meters). Many tourists are intrigued by local architecture, for instance, beautiful arch bridges also called viaducts, built in the 19th century. Locals value their history and traditions, which also concern cuisine — there’s no better place to try different kinds of traditional Carpathians dishes. In winter Vorokhta becomes a mecca for lovers of skiing and snowboarding.
Many travelers come to Sheshory to enjoy the views over Silver Waterfalls and Pystyn’ River. Located near «Hutsul’shchyna» natural park, it is a popular skiing spot: 3 well-kept slopes, from 700 to 1500 meters long, are offered to visitors. The region has numerous options for budget accommodation in B&Bs, private green-tourism cottages and mini-hotels.
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In two hours from Vorokhta lies Ivano-Frankivsk, a gem city of the Carpathians. Throughout its history, Ivano-Frankivsk has become a home for more than 5 nationalities, which is especially shown in the architecture: the narrow winding streets and old solid buildings remind of many European cities. One of the best souvenirs that can be brought from Ivano-Frankivsk is a Carpathian balm, infused with the mountain herbs. History lovers will find interest in exploring the underground Bastion, which is a part of the fortress fortifications of the old city, Potocki palace with its original the 17th century cobblestone and the 200 year old Shevchenko park.
For Ukrainians, climbing Hoverla isn’t merely a recreation, but an act of patriotism: every year on July 16th, the day of adoption of Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine, many non-governmental organizations reach the peak and raise the flag of Ukraine. This tradition started in 1990; and continues to this day. Moreover, each Constitution Day and Independence Day, hundreds of locals and tourists go on the journey to the top of Hoverla, sometimes raising national flags carefully packed along the gear.
Due to its qualities, history and traditions, Hoverla mountain is considered a national symbol of Ukraine.
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