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Top-10 most amazing buildings of Western Ukraine

Even the most demanding traveler will appreciate treasury of interesting places, legendary fortresses and castles focused in Western Ukraine. Wherever you arrive each place possesses its own castle, palace, legend or a breathtaking story.

White Elephant: observatory on the top of the mountain

The largest wonder of the mountain of Pip Ivan is a highland observatory, ruins of which tower on the top. People call the observatory “White Elephant”. They say that in winter covered with snow and ice and blew with strong winds the outlines of observatory reminds figure of an elephant.

Enigmas of Pip Ivan Mountain: versions of the name origin

Pip Ivan, the most mysterious mountain in the Ukrainian Carpathians, attracts travelers like a magnet. What makes it so special? Maybe, picturesque landscapes, intricate mixture of legends and historical facts (so it is difficult even for scientist to define the line where truth ends and fantasy begins). Or probably it’s ruins of an old Polish observatory on the top of the mountain, a unique monument of architecture. Pip Ivan is one of the most known and interesting mountains, although it is located far from highways and popular places.

summer trekking in the Carpathians

Pip Ivan belongs to the highest mountain of Ukraine, that’s Chornohora, and considered the third highest mountain in Ukraine after Hoverla (2061 m) and Brebeneskul (2036 m) with the height of 2028 m above the sea level. Polish observatory was built in the early XX century.

Frightening and exciting legends refer to the origin of the mountain name. It’s worth mentioning that Pip Ivan is not the only one name. Hutsuls, the locals, use one more variant Chorna Hora (Black Mountain). One version says that on distance the mountain reminds a pope (priest) in a cassock. Another legend tells that at one time there was a priest who on Kupala’s night gathered some healing herbs. The most ancient version applies to winds howling and singing on the top, in Ukrainian “popivayut’” (with the stress on the second syllable). That’s why the mountain is called Pip Ivan. The name “Chorna Hora” (Black Mountain) is connected with an epic opryshok (a highwayman) Oleksa Dovbush. Oleksa, grazing sheep, saw on a stone on the top of the mountain Devil. And recalled that one who kills “a black evil”, people say, gets a great reward from God.  And so was done. Oleksa Dovbush killed Devil for what was given a superhuman strength and amulet from foes’ bullets. Devil’s blood spread within the stone and became black, though the mountain got the name of Chorna Hora.

ski tours in the Carpathians

A moody weather on Pip Ivan makes the mountain even more mysterious. Changeable climate cannot anymore surprise experienced travelers: hot sun can be rapidly altered by dark rainy clouds, sharp thunderbolts and thunderclaps.
Hutsuls are not overfond of Chorna Hora. They advise not to mention any sort of a trouble or a bad weather nearby the mountain; otherwise you’ll definitely evoke evil. It is also whispered that you could press the lift button and descend to the underground storages of the observatory where among others is even an aircraft shed.

We should emphasize that chronically Chorna Hora, most likely, was in use earlier than Pip Ivan. The latter turned to use vastly in times of the Soviets. On Guillaume Le Vasseur de Beauplan’s maps (in the period from 1630 to 1647 this famous French explorer was mapping up Ukraine) you can find in the area of the Ukrainian Carpathians such marks as “Carna hora”. His maps were considered most accurate ones at that time. One more argument speaks in favor of the name “chorna hora”. Mountain ranges usually got their names after the name of one of the highest in the massif mountain as mountain range of Yavirnyk or Maksymets. Correspondingly, Chornohora range could also have such a mountain.

Some of our trekking tours as well as white water rafting tours include the mountain of Pip Ivan. Therefore, travelers in Ukraine have an opportunity to admire the most interesting mountain in the Ukrainian Carpathians and see a unique building on the top of it, that’s an abandoned Polish observatory.

Rafting tour including hike to Pip Ivan
An old Polish observatory White Elephant
Trekking tour including Polish Observatory
An observatory within mix-tour: trekking, rafting, jeeping
Pip Ivan within 7-days mix-tour