by Olga BAZANOVA, Science in Russia observer
Pyatigorsk, a major administrative center of North Caucasia, is also famous as a spa health resort, and by its mud baths. Its foundation date harks back to the year 1780 when a fort was built out there. In 1803 Emperor Alexander I signed an edict that stressed the great significance of Caucasian mineral springs and mapped out plans for establishing a spa resort over there. Pyatigorsk is a meaningful name. First and foremost, because this town is a mecca for those who worship the great Russian poet and novelist Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov (1814-1841) and who are all set to celebrate his birth bicentennial in 2014. As Professor Boris Eichenbaum, a literary critic, says, Pyatigorsk is a historic place intimately linked with Lermontov's life and creativity, his tragic and untimely death.
Pyatigorsk, or a "Town of Five Mounts", cuddles at the foot of a five-domed mountain, Beshtau. Much credit is due to Johann Anton Hildenstedt, a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences, who between 1769 and 1775 explored the plant and animal kingdom of the locality, its lakes and mineral springs. In 1793 another explorer, Peter Simon Pallas, went thither too. An eminent German naturalist, geographer and traveler, Palas was in the Russian service. Soldiers of the fort's garrison (the name of that fort was Konstantingorsk) told him about the curative baths found to be good for skin diseases and rheumatism. Getting down to brass tacks, Palas found out those were thermal baths carved in rock long ago, in times out of mind, at the foot of Mount Mashuk, now within the Pyatigorsk city limits. The German made a chemical test of the warm water gushing forth from subterranean mineral springs.
The news of the salutary Caucasian waters spread like wildfire, and sick sufferers trekked in doves to "Warm Waters" (Goryachevodsk) for relief. Feodor Gaaz, a Moscow physician, visited these parts in 1809 to look around. He made a ... Читать далее