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Observatory “White Elephant”

From 1936 to 1938, on the initiative of the Polish government, an astronomical observatory was built on Black Mountain (Pip Ivan Chornohirskyi), at an altitude of 2,028 meters, which at the same time served as a meteorological station. Its walls are made of stone blocks and reach a thickness of one to one and a half meters. The Constructivist building is located on a slope, so it is two-story to the east and five-story to the west. On the southern side of the observatory, there is a round rotunda tower in which the telescope was located.

The materials needed for construction were delivered first by railway to the station Vorokhta, then by forest roads with the help of horses or on foot. It is almost 70 kilometers of the way!

Старі фото обсерваторії білий слон

Photo and video of the “White Elephant” observatory

A brief overview

🗺 Location N48°02’30” E24°37’32”
⛰ Height above sea level 2028 m
🔰 Date of establishment 1938
🏛 Building area 816.26 m2
🛠 Building condition Ruins
🧭 Distance from Lazeshchyna 35 km
🚙 Road for On foot, partly by SUV
🏕 Stop with a tent Yes
🏡 Housing nearby Lazeshchyna
☕ Cafes and shops Lazeshchyna

Current temperature on Mount Pip Ivan:

16.4o C   |   61.4o F

On the map

History and legends of the “White Elephant” observatory

Before the beginning of the Second World War, the employees of the observatory left the building, taking with them the most valuable, namely: seven lenses from the telescope, two micrometers and the same number of chronometers. All this equipment went to the Budapest Astronomical Observatory in November 1939, and later to Vienna, from where it was transported to Poland after the war.

In September 1939, the Soviet authorities became the new owners of the building. After the partition of Poland, Western Ukraine became part of the USSR. The first high-altitude geophysical observatory and weather station in the Soviet Union was organized here. The observatory resumed its work: constant observations were made, information was transmitted to the forecast bureau in Kyiv.

From 1941 to 1944, a Hungarian military unit was housed in the observatory building.

After the war, the observatory was no longer restored, and the building was gradually destroyed by the local population, tourists and the forces of nature. In winter, when the ruins are covered with ice and bizarre icicles, growths and folds form on the walls, the structure looks very majestic – like a large frozen animal. Perhaps this is why the observatory has a romantic name – “White Elephant”. There is another version of the origin of this name. However, Polish officials considered the construction of the observatory impossible. In their understanding, this project was a “white elephant” – something fantastic, unreal. Today, the building of the observatory is a high-mountain dump and a public toilet, organized by tourists. They often set up tents near it and stay for the night, but it is unpleasant to sleep surrounded by sewage, besides there is no water here. Perhaps in the future there will be investors who will restore the glory of the “White Elephant” and make it a real mecca for tourists.

How to get to the White Elephant Observatory?

Route to the observatory from Hoverla (from the Lazeshchyna side)

🔰 Start Hoverla
🗺 Distance 18 km
⬆ Rise up to 2028 m

The route to the observatory from the village Hoverla

🔰 Start Hoverla Village
🗺 Distance 19 km
⬆ Rise from 648 m to 2028 m

The route to the observatory from Dzembronia

🔰 Start Dzembronia
🗺 Distance 9 km
⬆ Rise from 722 m to 2028 m

Route to the observatory from the village of Zelene (Shybene)

🔰 Start Shybene
🚙 Distance on foot and by SUV 11.5 km
⬆ Rise from 851 m to 2028 m

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