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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.
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.
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. You can also come across another explanation. Officials as usually had a skeptical attitude to the projects demanding quite a lot of money and called them “White elephant”, useless and illusive conception.
In order to select a construction project a closed competition was declared. The main demand was to use sandstone as a building material since it was available in sufficient quantity in close vicinity. That would help to reduce costs and decrease a multimillion-dollar budget. On December 16, 1935 K.Marczewski, J.Pohoski were appointed as architectures of the project. The process of building started in summer of 1936. The major part of workers was inhabitants of neighboring villages. Old-timers still remember a hard labor and grandiose opening of the observatory with a great number of Polish authorities.
The observatory was built of local cement-bound sandstone. It is said that cement mortar was strengthen by protein of chicken eggs. All necessary materials were forwarded ahorse or by means of employees. It appeared that the most difficult task was to transfer to the top of the mountain all necessary equipment, that’s 33 boxes of telescope and dome details. The heaviest of them weighed almost a ton, precisely 950 kg. Walls made of stone blocks had 1.5 m in basement. The building reminds a mirror reflection of “L” letter with a round tower and dome. For better thermal insulation between a wall and a plaster was inserted a layer of corkwood. Because of difference in terrain the building had two storeys from one side and 5 from another. Sloping roof was covered with copper sheets and the observatory brightly glistened in sun.
Grand opening of the observatory took place on July, 29, 1938. Starting with that date it had been functioning less than 14 months until the storm of World War II frightened scientists and made them run far away from the Soviets. Equipment was dismantled and transported at first to Hungary and later to Vienna. Nowadays three lens telescope can be found in Silesian Planetarium (Poland).
Time of destroying begins. For more than 70 years the strategic object of European significance has remained empty. Locals took everything what can be useful in the household: copper sheets and wood flooring (it turned out an extremely useful thing for fire setting). What remained unharmed was destroyed by pseudo tourists for whom White Elephant became the only shelter in nasty weather. Therefore, today you can admire nothing but ruins of a mighty building.
For more than a decade one can observe much talking on the question of White Elephant reconstruction. However there is no big use in just conversations. According to the latest information this year a joint project of Warsaw University and Precarpathian University on restoring of observatory should begin. Polish-Ukrainian project will provide a possibility to receive support from European Union and UNESCO. The first grant amounts to 20 thousand USD (data for comparison: the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania spent 50 thousand zloty every month for keeping the observatory). It is planned to restore the observatory and found Biological Research Center of Carpathians plants. It’s worth mentioning that Polish side has some experience in restoring of such establishments (for instance, observatory on the top of Kasprowy Wierch). We do hope that observatory preserves its original appearance, so that valuable scientific and cultural object will attract travelers, excite with its history and lift up to the stars.
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