Sanatoriums of Ukraine – Kurpaty Sanatorium of Yalta, Crimea | Санаторий “Курпаты”, г. Ялта, АР Крым

Before I talk about sanatoriums, I shall make an announcement first. I haven’t updated this blog for probably 3 weeks, but I haven’t left a concluding note yet, because even though my project Explore Ukraine ended on 28 Jan 2013, I still have many aspects of Ukraine that I haven’t included yet! After my project ended in my third city, L’viv, I went on to Kharkiv and Yalta by my own, and then flew to Amsterdam. I spent a total of 6 days in Amsterdam and Paris before flying to Singapore, where I celebrated Chinese New Year just a few days after touching down. Hence it has been hectic and not too much time to write new entries :).

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I heard of the term “sanatorium” a few years before I went to Ukraine, because I was reading up about this country. At that point of time, I didn’t know much about what these places offer. While in L’viv, we took a trip to nearby Truskavets town (about 120 km, 2 hours south of L’viv), and it’s a spa, resort and sanatorium town. I remembered that the peninsula of Crimea had a high concentration of sanatoriums, and when I took a marshrutka (minibus) westwards away from Yalta, I found out I wasn’t wrong.

A few years ago, while surfing the net, reading about weird buildings, I chanced upon this:

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You might have experienced the euphoria upon seeing a building/scenery that you’ve seen in books/on the internet in real life, and when I took the marshrutka from Yalta to the west of the city, I was exhilarated to see this unique building on my right as the minibus was navigating its way down a twisting slope!

As I continued my travels on the Crimean peninsula, I saw numerous sanatoriums on the coast, but it seemed as though most of them were not opened. Actually, January is definitely the super off-peak period for travelling in Ukraine, because most places probably will expect tourists to visit only in summer. I guess that’s the case for sanatoriums, which are summer getaway resorts.

After I got back to Singapore, I checked online, and found that this building is Kurpaty Sanatorium. It is probably one of the most curious-looking buildings I’ve seen, as it resembles a giant alien saucer landed on the steep Crimean slopes. It seems almost impossible, because the central pillar is quite small, while the entire circular structure is much larger.

Here’s the official website of Kurpaty Sanatorium (Санаторий “Курпаты” in Russian). The website is Russian-only though, not in English. (Most residents of Crimea speak the Russian language instead of Ukrainian language)

Fortunately, here’s a page describing the Sanatorium in English. As seen from the very bottom of the table, the operating months of this sanatorium are March to December. No wonder they appear deserted when I went there in January.And you must be wondering, what do sanatoriums do? Which groups of people do sanatoriums target at?

From the English page, it seems that the sanatorium welcomes all age groups, including family with children. There are numerous medical services offered at this complex. People can go there for health checks, therapy, consultations, massages or simply for relaxation.

The ‘sanatoriums’ in Ukraine differ from those in western Europe and the USA. Personally I have never been to any sanatoriums anywhere in the world before, but it seems the Ukrainian sanatoriums are for short term vacations, including health vacations. However, those in western Europe and the USA are probably long-term recovery ‘hospitals’ for lung diseases, mental illnesses and other ailments. In addition, there are at least two other ways to spell the word ‘sanatorium’ in English: sanitorium and sanitarium, and there seems to be subtle nuances between them, according to the Wikipedia page (which unfortunately, does not account for the sanatoriums in Ukraine at all).

There are probably thousands of sanatoriums all across Ukraine, and probably hundreds in Crimea alone, and many in Yalta.

Indoor swimming pool. From http://www.kurpaty.com/photo/22/

Indoor swimming pool. From http://www.kurpaty.com/photo/22/

The gym. You can see the curved walls from this photo. From http://www.kurpaty.com/photo/16/

The gym. You can see the curved walls from this photo. From http://www.kurpaty.com/photo/16/

I hope to visit one of these facilities the next time if I were to visit Ukraine in summer.

Тернопільський став / Ternopil Pond/Lake

One feature in Ternopil that no one will ever miss out is the Ternopil Pond (Lake). It divides the city into approximately 2 halves, and is just beside the city centre. For us, in order to reach the city centre from our dormitory, we have to take buses 11, 27 or 30, or trolleybuses 7 or 11, and all these will travel past the lake.

Satellite imagery of Ternopil from Google Earth. The dark blue area is the lake

Satellite imagery of Ternopil from Google Earth. The dark blue area is the lake

Map of Ternopil Lake

Map of Ternopil Lake on Google Maps

It might not be obvious, but cities with lakes in their city centres are rare. Most cities have rivers passing through them, or are situated along the coast of a sea or big lake, but very few cities in the world can claim that they contain a lake within itself. Europe has only two of such cities. One is the famous Geneva, which you might see on the news or tourist guides often, and the other one is, Ternopil.

This reinforces the stand that Ternopil is unique!

Signboard to Ternopil Lake

On the southeast corner of the lake is the Ternopil Castle / Zamok (below). It is now a nightclub called Maxim.

Ternopil Castle, which is now the nightclub Maxim

Ternopil Castle, which is now the nightclub Maxim

Ternopil Castle, Тернопільський замок, was the starting mark of the development of Ternopil city. It was constructed between 1540 to 1548, and was originally where a Polish nobleman, Jan Amor Tanowski, the founder of Ternopil city, stayed. There was originally a moat around the castle, but it does not exist now. In 1675, the Ottoman army completely destroyed the castle, but it was rebuilt in 1840.

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Many people walking, ice skating or playing ice hockey on the frozen lake surface. There won't be a chance to do these in 2 days' time, when the temperature climbs above 0 and the ice melts.

Many people walking, ice skating or playing ice hockey on the frozen lake surface. There won’t be a chance to do these in 2 days’ time, when the temperature climbs above 0 and the ice melts.

It was about -11 degrees Celsius when we visited it, so it is not surprising that the lake surface is frozen and covered with snow.

Me on the frozen lake

Me on the frozen lake

Parks and forests surround some sides of the lake, while the city centre and residential and industrial suburbs cover the east of the lake. A small forest called Kutkivetskyy is on the northwest, while Zagrebella Park lies on the southwest, not far away from the Economic University (we should take a walk there one day!). Along the road that connects the east and the west of the city, one side is the lake, and the other side is the Topilche Park. Near the castle lies the small Shevchenka Park.

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Tourist kiosk beside the lake, probably closed in winter

Tourist kiosk beside the lake, probably closed in winter