Atlesh Reserve Landmark
Atlesh is a reserve landmark (since 1980) on Tarhankut Peninsula. Along this 1.8 mile-long coastal line near Atlesh of southern Tarhankut, numerous picturesque bays, spongy cliffs, vast grottos, coastal niches, and sometimes beautiful stone arcs are formed in result of erosion and washing away by sea breaking waves.
Nature created here a small paleontological museum. A trace of a fossilized fish over 3.2 ft. long was discovered in one place. In other place a colony of fossilized stone sediments (oncolites) was unveiled – they were formed with the help of prehistoric seaweeds. Some oval oncolites of this unique natural collection have diameter of over 17 inches.
Atlesh is divided into two parts – Greater Atlesh (3.72 miles to south-east from village of Olenevka) and Smaller Atlesh (0.62 miles from the Greater Atlesh). The name “Atlesh” was derived from a Persian word “atesh” meaning “fire”. It was probably named so because in ancient times, people used to ignite fires on these steep coastal cliffs, whish served as landmarks pointing way to the shore for ships during nasty weather and at night. Cliffs of Tarhankut are dangerous for navigation, but, at the same time, since times of antiquity, small bays of Atlesh served as reliable shelters for pirates and smugglers.
There is a rock protruding to the sea near the western extremity of the Greater Atlesh. A huge arc was broken through it by waves and winds. This arc is a symbol of the Greater Atlesh. And humans carved out here a two-flight staircase facilitating comfortable descent to the sea.
If translated from the Crimean Tatar language, the name “Atlesh” means “a dead horse” (carrion, horse skeleton), where the root “At” means “a horse”. Most probably this name is connected with the appearance of local cliffs all corroded by erosion like skeletons. Or otherwise the name is attributed to the fact that in 19th century people used to hunt for wild (or feral) horses – tarpans, which often died falling down to the coastal rocks from the steep cliffs. Adjacent cape of the Smaller Atlesh is interesting due to its 328 ft. through tunnel in limestone rock. It’s difficult to imagine, but these white cliffs are limestone sediments which long ago had been a sea bed. Cliff areas located above the sea level are much younger. Rock lumps standing separate from the main cliffs are quaintly looking. One of such lumps is called “Small Turtle”. Not far from the Arc, there is a grotto with a very unique shape. Episodes of Soviet movies “The Amphibian Man”, “Pirates of the 20th Century”, and “Taman” were shot in this place.
Those visitors who descend into this so called “Bowl of Love” are amazed by unusual relief of the limestone cliffs with caves and grottos. Right near the cliff there is a very steep 46 ft. descent after which the sea bed goes down to 65 ft.
Cape of the Smaller Atlesh has been attracting divers from all over the world long since. An advantage of this place is its rich underwater flora and fauna unveiling before eyes of the diver in all their might and beauty.
All attractive landmarks and sights of the north-western Crimean Coast are reserve places.