29 km from Yaremche, there is another great mountain resort of the Ukrainian Carpathians with the height of 800-850 meters above sea level — Vorokhta. Local air infused with spruce can cure the heaviest respiratory illness. Vorokhta is most famous as a winter ski resort: there is a range of four slopes, which due to synthetic cover operate all year round, and a 2 km long chair lift. Besides, two original wooden churches have remained here. The Virgin Mary Nativity Church is one of the smallest in Hutsulshchyna. It is one of the best examples of Hutsul wooden folk architecture of XVII century, which was moved here in 1780 from the village of Yablunytsa.
Historical background of Vorokhta
The village Vorokhta got its name from the surname of Mikhailo Vorohta who had settled here at the end of the XVIIth century. Vorokhta was a deserter from the Polish army, and therefore he did not return to Transcarpathian region, where he was born. Michailo Vorokhta was an able master and made a loom for one young lady with whom he later got married. Since then the Weaving Crafts of Vorokhta began to develop rapidly, and people for a sign of gratitude and love to master, called the village by his name.
Village Vorokhta started developing and became particularly as a resort after the railway in 1884. The recreation facility was opened in 1906, called “the first sanatorium”, then in the Soviet period it was renamed as the” Mountain Air”, which operates up to now. In 1928 Vorokhta was officially recognized as a resort for patients with tuberculosis and lung disease. Until now residents from different parts of Ukraine receive treatment here. However, the village develops as a center of winter sports and tourism. In 1930, during the Polish government, two ramps were built in Vorokhta – for children and adults, which have acquired international importance.
Athletes from Germany, Norway, Finland and other countries came here for the competition. Interesting things, which remained in Vorokhta , are viaducts – stone railway bridges, built in XIX-XX centuries. These stone bridges held the first railway. In other settlements similar bridges were destroyed during the World War II. Saved resorts and villas of the XIX-XX centuries have an interesting design and decorative carving that deserve considerable attention.
Viaduct in Vorohta
A large stone arch railroad bridge, viaduct of Austrian times connects the two banks of the river Prut. Underneath there is a highway Yaremcha-Verkhovyna.
The bridge was built in 1895 during construction of the railway Stanislav (Iavno-Frankivsk) – Yaremcha – Vorokhta – Rakhiv. Its length reaches 130 meters and the length of the span is 65 m .The Arch Bridge in Vorokhta consideres to be one of the longest stone railway bridges in Europe.
Hutsul church in Vorokhta
This ideal for proportions, very harmonious wooden church moved here in 1780 from Yablunytsa. The name of it as in its newer neighbor on the hill next to is dedicated to. When the church was built, historians do not know: There are two versions, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Historians do not know when the church has been built. There are two versions: the XVIII century and archaic for this part of the Carpathians 1615. In any case, the composition of the sanctuary did not change for several centuries and this is also a true gift of fate.
The church in Vorohta is little, has four frameworks, typical for Hutsul region. But this one is better than their “sisters” from Tatariv or Kolomyya: those are stout, short, brought to earth, and this one is statuesque, slender, drags up to the sun. The place which was chosen for the church is on a hill in the northern part of the village, on the way to Verhovyna. You can see the whole Vorokhta town from there: and the Prut river, and the track and the viaduct, and villas … Well, and stone foundation also promotes harmony. A narrower per volume of walls octagonal tower is brought up over central constructions. Walls are brought down towards the inside – the researchers say that it is a sure sign of antiquity. Mandatory shelter is based on curly brackets; this wooden umbrella is for our parishioners, runs around the sanctuary.
To get inside the church is a great luck for everyone. The condition of the church was quite satisfactory: after 1979, when the church was restored by Lviv specialists. When you look at the church, you are truly amazed: it is not covered with badge, is not in Ondulin, not with siding: it is really wooden. Once it was the Carpathian norm, now it is a rarity.
Once there was a cemetery around the church. Now there little is left of it, and crosses and graves surround a newer church of Virgin Mary, which is shines with its gold badge. A famous scholar of architecture G. Logvin wrote that the old entrance to the cemetery was flanked by two giant stones (menhirs), which were used for marking the holy places.
Sanatoriums in Vorokhta
The railway from Lviv to Vorokhta and further to Transcarpathia tied in a single chain a resort strip from “Naftusia” in Truskavets to the mineral waters of Transcarpathia. The first resort in Vorokhta for treatment of tuberculosis patients appeared in 1906, it wore the name: “The first sanatorium”. In Soviet times it was renamed to “Mountain Air”. There is a spring at this resort which water is called kamianka. It is extremely clean, tastes good and has medicinal characteristics.
A lot of rest houses and sport shelters arose in Vorokhta. More and more visitors came to Vorokhta in all seasons, and they rented apartments in the outskirts. They came for treatment, rest or hunting not only from Poland but also from other European countries.
Another sanatorium appeared on the other side of the Prut River in front of the first resort. The sanatorium was financed by the joint Company of the patients’ fund of Stanislav and Drohobych. This resort was built in 1921, and was designed for 117 beds. It was built of wood, but it had a good architectural design. Unfortunately, the building burned down during the war with a direct hit of artillery shell.
And then, speaking about the health and recreation facilities of Vorokhta it is worth to mention the rest house of the Polish governmental society “Skarbivka” with 180 beds. It was built on the hill in front of the Polish church. It was a wooden building covered with tiles. Both in summer and in winter a lot of nobility rested here.
Formation of Education
After laying the railway the highlanders of Vorokhta and surrounding villages turned to education. 1906 Lviv People’s Institute built a teacher’s house in Vorokhta, and Mr. Ivantyshyn became its director. The house had rest rooms with 50 beds, a room of “Enlightenment” and a one-class school.
Then, a Polish school already existed during the second occupation of Western Ukraine by Poland. It was a Polish school where Polish and Jewish children learned, the school had 6 classes. There was also a native paid school with four years education. If someone wanted to get a secondary education, they had to complete four classes of Ruthenia school, go to Poland school and finish here fifth and sixth grades, and only then they could pass to the native paid school and finish four classes.
Farm training of youth
From 1937 until 1939 a farm training of young people existed in Vorokhta. The training was held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the evening. The training was held by so-called “foremen”.
The training program was as follows: first hour – agricultural technology of growing beets, cabbages and various herbs; second hour – gardening and agriculture; third hour – political training. There were some changes in training hours: singing, dancing. There were many circles in the reading room of “Enlightenment”: singing, dancing, drama, and sports circles, so Vorokhta went to great development.
During the Austrian period sport was not developed very much, because finances were invested in resorts. Sport began to develop in 1925 during the Poland period. In this year a house of the society “Friends of Hutsulshchyna” was built in Vorokhta (it burned down during the war, now another building stood on this place). The society included our Hutsuls and Polish Hurals from the Polish Tatras, «skiers from the Polish ski capital Zakopane. In Vorokhta they built a ski jump as in Zakopane. In 1930 two ski tracks namely large and for children were ready. They gained international importance. Ski races were carried out; they were called brigade races because of 5 men in a team. The distance was 150 km. Our team took a part at number 29. The famous Polish sportsmen came here. The society “Friends of Hutsulshchyna” organized competitions annually and invited athletes from Norway, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Finland and other countries, so Vorokhta was filled with guests the whole winter.
In Soviet times the ski center “Ukraine” and at the springboard “Avangard” – a rest house for sportsmen were built. Tourism in the Carpathians is a unique business, especially, if Vorokhta is chosen as the starting point. Go up the hill Yasen in Shymshoriv district (Shevchenko St.), take a look around, and choose a route. From here you can see the mountains Kychera, Kukul, Kostrycha, Rizha, Rebrovach, Lysyna; in the north – Magura, Kitylivka, Slipo-kura, Goverla, Foresok; in the northwest – Khomiak, Syniak, Gorgan and many other picturesque peaks. At the foot of Goverla on the mountain valley Zarosliak the tourist base of the same name works.
First industrial facilities
Austria put a great deal of effort and money to build the railway in the difficult mountain conditions, and to arrange primarily the resort area in Vorokhta. But its aim was also logging, taking into account the powerful untouched forest reserves of Vorokhta and surrounding areas. The Carpathians were rich in various tree species: horn beam, oak, sycamore, ash, birch, besides of fir and beech forests. It is enough to say that some trees have given up to 30 cubic meters of industrial wood. In 1910 the Austrian government built in Vorokhta a small sawing shop with two power-saw benches. First wood was brought by horses in winter because felling lasted four months: November, December, January, and February. Subsequently, the Carpathian narrow gauge railway was built, and was seven kilometers long. Two small locomotives working on beech wood hauled the special carriage for logging. One carriage could contain up to ten cubes. Wood was loaded at the seventh kilometer, at Arhelusha, and than from Arhelusha the carriage rolled down seven kilometers to the power-saw bench. Wood was loaded by hand, first onto a trestle to which it was brought by the horses, and from the trestle it was loaded out into the carriages also by hand. This track had also passenger carriages. They were used by workers and tourists. Now let’s turn back to the power-saw benches. These two power-saw benches were covered, a pit for gathering sawdust was under the frame, and this sawdust was taken out into the large boxes and brought to the boiler which moved a steam engine in the form of a locomotive without wheels and with an electric generator. The generator gave current for the whole sawmill. This sawmill belonged to the state. Another sawmill was located not far from the state one at the Prut River. The owner of this sawmill was a Jew Ara. But pride on their country did not allowed the local Hutsuls to go to work under foreign coercion. Who went to work at sawmill was contemptuously called “Baraba firysovyy”. Therefore, many strangers went to work in Vorohta.
Local people were engaged in traditional crafts: weaving, furriery, embroidering keptars, pelts, petaks, producing lathes for house covering, shingles. In this crafts masters from Yablunitsia Petro and Mykola Kapitanchuk were known. There were such masters as builders, carpenters, carvers, turners. In wood sawing the ancient traditions were kept.
I want to dwell on the process of hand-cutting wood. Two pillars of two meters in height and with interval of four meters were buried in the ground. At the top of the pillars a beam and two blocks were fastened on which round timber was rolled up to the beam. The saws were of different lengths namely 130, 150 and 200 cm. Wood after felling was driven down and than people prepared it and carried it with horses to the appointed place. Horses were shoed with sharp horseshoes. Oxen also were shoed with the crescent-shaped horseshoes. The shoed four years old oxen could pull ten cubic meters of wood at once.
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