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The Valley of Ghosts (Russian: Долина привидений, Ukrainian: Долина привидів, Crimean Tatar: Hayalet vadiysi) is a valley located in the Crimea,[1] made up of naturally shaped rocks on the Southern Demerdzhi Mountain, located near Alushta city.[2]

The Valley Of Ghosts
The Valley Of Ghosts is located in Crimea
The Valley Of Ghosts
The Valley Of Ghosts
Alushta Municipality, Crimea
Width1100 mi
Area4 million m³
Age800 million - 1.1 billion years
Population centersAlushta, Luchistoe
Coordinates44°40′39″N 34°25′04″E / 44.677605°N 34.417783°E / 44.677605; 34.417783Coordinates: 44°40′39″N 34°25′04″E / 44.677605°N 34.417783°E / 44.677605; 34.417783

The stone shapes resemble statues of humans, animals, creatures from fairy tales, pyramids and various mystery objects. The characteristics and forms of the rocks are also subject to the time of day, lighting and atmospheric conditions, such as the characteristic thick fog of the region. It is a unique and natural monument of national significance.

Demerdzhi is the only place in the Crimea to observe the phenomenon of "Brokkensky ghost" (Brocken spectre).[3]



South-Demerdzhi side

"Stone figures", which were formed by the weathering of rocks on the southwest slope of Demerdzhi Mountain, are called The Valley of Ghosts. It has been affected by several rock falls, notably in April 1894 and August 1966. The mountain Demerdzhi gets its mystery from the haze which changes its colors. In the Middle Ages, the mountain had the name 'Funa', which means "fuming", because of frequent fog.[4] The Valley of Ghosts was located on the slopes of Demerdzhi Castle and its remains have survived until now. There is a road which leads to the castle near the Valley of Ghosts .[5] Near the village of Funa, there are the ruins of Demerdzhi Castle, dating back to 13th - 15th centuries. The castle was an outpost of the principality Theodore, where a small garrison prevented the penetration of the Genoese into Tavria. There was also a towered two-story church where a family vault is located.[6]

Geologists hypothesize that the Valley of Ghosts became unwrinkled due to centuries of influence of the sea. The sea levels rose, and the entire Crimean Peninsula turned into many small islands. Over thousands of years passed, the sea was gradually going down, washing the lowlands of high rocks and hard stones turning into a crumbly sand of the sea, gradually grinding boulders and giving them the most intricate shapes.[7]


The Valley of Ghosts; the foot of mountain Demerdzhi

Demerdzhi mountain covers an area of 13.8 square kilometers. From West to East it is 5.5 kilometers, and 3.5 kilometers from North to South. Geographers divide the area into two parts - North and South Demerdzhi. The northern part is much larger in size, and slightly higher. The highest point is 1,359 meters above sea level. The highest point of the southern part is 1,239 meters above sea level.[8] Demerdzhi Mountain has developed the so-called conglomerates-small fragments of various rocks, boulders, pebbles of different sizes cemented sand and clay and, as a result of the action of natural forces the mysterious stone figures that form the Valley of Ghosts have emerged.

Southern Demerdzhi, where the Valley of Ghosts is located, is composed of conglomerates, consisting of coarse rocks, pebbles and boulders with a solidified sand-clay mass between them. These were formed in the coastal sea in the Late Jurassic period. The conglomerates exhibit cracks of different types.

These conglomerates are geologically unusual for three reasons. Firstly, the Valley of Rocks conglomerates include quartzite and pink granite, in addition to the typical Crimea sandstone, compacted clay, limestone, milky white quartz and brown siderite concretions. Secondly, the granite, dated to 650 - 950 million years old, is significantly older than the surrounding clay and sandstone of the Crimean mountains, dated to 160 - 200 million years. Thirdly, the Demerdzhi conglomerates are unusually large, with sizes of around 1,750 meters.

These conglomerates have been intricately formed by natural weathering. Various figures, dozens of meters high, can be found here. Some of them have been likened in form to the basalt idols of Easter Island.

At the top of the mountain, a rare atmospheric phenomenon known as "Brokkensky ghost" can be seen during sunrise. To observe the "ghost" appearance, several conditions must be met: Chatyr-Dag must be shrouded in mist and the area over the sea and Demerdzhi must be clear, transparent and completely permeable to sunlight. During sunrise, it is possible to see shadows projected on the background of Chatyr-Dag, shrouded in mist, surrounded by a circular rainbow halo.[9]


The Valley of Ghosts has a typical Crimean climate of hot summers and mild winters. The average winter temperature, especially in the coldest month of January, is about −0.8 °C (30.6 °F). In summer, the warmest month is July with a temperature of 20.4 °C (68.7 °F). The variation in annual temperature is around 21.2 °C (38.2 °F). The dry climate means that the water temperature remains stable between 0–8 °C (0–14 °F).

October is the driest month with an average precipitation is 40mm. Precipitation is the greatest in December, with an average is 81mm.[10]

Climate data for Crimea
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −0.8
Average low °C (°F) −4.1
Average precipitation mm (inches) 69



Oudemansiella mucida on the mount Demerdzhi

The valley is symbolised by walnut and cherry trees, lawn, rocks, springs (already partially capped), creeks and small deep lakes. Meadows occur, where fruit trees grow. These are so-called 'chairies', a local name for woodland gardens. These were created by the local population, and are now being replaced by farms with more prolific gardens.[11] There is a relic forest, flora of which includes 420 species, including singular species such as yew, lyadvenets Crimea, sainfoin yaylinsky, pyracantha, and others.[12]


Two horses photographed on the mount Demerdzhi

Typical fauna comprehends:


The name of the old village of Funa ("smoky" in Greek), located under the mountain near a road to Aluston (current Alushta) may have its origins in the occupant's trade in blacksmithing.

At the end of the 18th century, when Christians were forced out of Crimea by the decree of Catherine II, the village became occupied by Tatars from the southern coast. The village was rechristened “Demerdzhi” ("smith" in the Tatar language).[14]

Today, the village has the name Luchistoe. Russian history books point out that the village was reallocated to a more secure place based on the advice of the geologist Nikolai A. Golovkinsky after the disaster in 1894 (rockfalls occurred regularly since 1615 to 1989[9]). However, authors of the book "Aluston and Funa", K. Kogonashvili and O. Makhneva, pictured this episode in a different way. They wrote that the village was relocated due to a local landlord magnifying the risk so that he could spread and expand their garden at the site of the old village. [15]


The Valley of Ghosts can be reached via the village Luchistoe, taking the trolleybuses №51 or №52 on the Simferopol-Alushta-Yalta road.[16] From Luchistoe, it takes 30 minutes walking along paved road to the valley, passing a horse riding club called "Zolotaya Podkova" ("Golden Horseshoe", Russian: "Золотая подкова"). [17]

The village of Luchistoe can be also reached from Alushta by bus №107 from the town bus station.

If traveling by car from the city of Alushta, Luchistoe can be found in 4 kilometers.[18]


Hearts of ThreeEdit

The Valley of Ghosts is a filming location for some scenes in the film "Hearts of Three" (Russian:"Сердца трех", Ukrainian: Серця трьох). This film was based on the novel Hearts of Three. In one scene, company Solano spent the night in the old ruins of castle Funa at Southern Demerdzhi when they were running away from the police. The heroes came across the Indian Maya Rudolph there. Chia's eyes flashed in the middle of the Valley of Ghosts. In the film, it was called "The valley of lost souls". [19]

Kidnapping, Caucasian StyleEdit

The Soviet film Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (Russian: Кавказская пленница) used areas in the Caucasus and in Crimea. The song of N. Varley was performed on one of the rocks belonging to the Valley of Ghosts, which is about two meters tall. Also, here grew "The Nikulin nut", with whom the actor fell during the filming. The tree branch cracked somewhere other than where the initial incision was made, and the actor broke his arm. Therefore, the shooting had to be put off until a later time.[20] The primary filming locations are the city center of Alushta, and The Valley of Ghosts. Additionally, in Kidnapping, Caucasian Style, there are scenes shot in Simferopol (a mental hospital), on the top of Ai-Petri and the Caucasus, and in the Adler Microdistrict of Sochi on the Mzymta River.[21]


Some rocks which are shaped like ghosts.

The legend of the origin of The Valley of Ghosts has different names, such as: "The Smith from Mountain Demerdzhi", "Mountain-smith", "About the mountain Demerdzhi". There are several variations to the story, which however contains the common elements.

The Smith from Mountain DemerdzhiEdit

This legend portrays the story of how Crimean conquerors - nomads - came to the land.[22] The residents named the mountain "Funa" because post-fire steam and lights regularly came out from the top of the mountain. The blacksmith who delegated as the nomad by conquerors set up a huge forge on the mountain which became a workplace to create weapons and start using it to enslave the locals. Strongest men in the village were all taken into the forge. When people from the village worked to exhaustion and even some died, they went to the blacksmith to ask him to leave the mountain. The blacksmith responded by killing them all by fire. A girl called Maria decided to go to the blacksmith alone again. She quietly snuck into the smithy one night and asked the Blacksmith to leave the mountain. The blacksmith refused and commanded Maria to stay with him. In response, Maria pushed him strongly straight to the furnace. The blacksmith grabbed a dagger and killed the girl. The mountain itself could not tolerate this anymore, so it swallowed blacksmith together with his men (the nomads) and carried people from the valley to their original homes by wind. When the flames were extinguished and the dust settled, an extraordinary scene was there. Towering stone statues of unknown monsters - they were ugly similarities of a blacksmith and his henchmen - were on the mountain. On the highest point of the mountain, there was a rock, looked like the girl Maria - the latest victim of a brutal blacksmith. From that time Funa was extinguished, no fire is ever seen over the top. People who knew the story gave the mountain a new name - Demerdzhi, which means "smith".[23]

Legend of Demerdzhi MountainEdit

The Valley of Ghosts

Many years ago, an unknown man who knew the devil and named blacksmith settled on the top of the mountain Demerdzhi. Once, the mountain shook and houses within the villages were then destroyed. Villagers gathered together to discuss because the mountain was at peace before the strange man came. They decided to send the most courageous and intelligent ones up the mountain, requesting the stranger to leave, but he refused. After a while, a beautiful Greek woman came to the mountain and sat down to rest near a spring. In the village, where she was from, the fountains stopped murmuring, and people lost their water. People then realized who was the cult of the disaster and went to demand the return of beauty. The news was spread that the stranger was the great sinner. People believed that the mountain trembled because it does not want to carry him anymore. Terrified inhabitants of the valley gathered in the ancient temple and begged God to save them from the evil alien but nothings happened for long days. When the holidays horban-Adha come, believers prayed for three days and nights. The flame was raised on Demerdzhi, buzzes and groanings were all around, great stones fell down from the mountain. As everything came to peace, people did not see the terrible alien anymore. But strangely, they found stone figures of animals, form of people and unseen monsters on the mountainside facing the Babuganu (a part Gurzufskaya plateau). Later, people learned that this was done to make sure that people should never forget the terrible sinner who was responsible of that tragedy.[24]

See alsoEdit

Similar places in the world
Similar places in Crimea
Places around



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