Between the steppes and forests, pearly placers of dawn dews and crimson sunspots, the transparent blue of nightingales and the meadow-colored multicolored sparkling under the tender sun, among the spicy smells of herbaceous grasses a charming Russian river, long called Krasivaya Mecha, hurries to Don river. From a bird's-eye view, the curves of its channel look like whimsical curls, and the steep hills, overgrown with light coppices, seem to be mountain peaks that guard the secrets of the green valleys and ringing blasts for long ages. There is an immense strip of fertile fields, deep ravines, abundant gardens and quivering groves from the steep slopes t - all like waves of a green sea. And there is a river in the middle, reeking between hilly banks, bottomless pools and rapids of shallows, steep cliffs and chamomile meadows. The whitish clouds crumble to shreds in the hot and sparkling mirror of the ruts. For hundreds of kilometers around you can not find anything similar in the landscapes of the Central Russian Plain. It is a unique, unique corner of the native land. Fairy-tale, lovely landscapes hardly anyone can leave indifferent. A man who has only once seen Krasivomeche in all its splendor of a summer sunny day, has long dreamed of flower dreams. This area has been of great importance for our ancestors since ancient times, surprising with its beauty, fertility, and strategic capabilities. There is a significant and characteristic boundary between the Forest and the Steppe. Ancient travelers, who noted this change in the type of vegetation and the appearance of the landscape, called the area Mecha, that is, between, dividing the steppe and forest spaces. Subsequently, the toponym was preserved in the name of the river, some of its tributaries (Sitova Mecha) and the city of Mtsensk (in the XII century - Mchensk), although it is not connected with the river itself. In the first millennium AD there were settlements of Sarmatians, Finno-Ugric tribes, Slavs. Prior to the victorious campaign of Prince Svyatoslav Igorevich, Khazar Pomechye was a part of their Kaganate. At that time, in the middle course of Mecha, the second water part of the eastern version of the road ""from the Varangians to the Greeks"" began, about which the Russian historian of the XIX century Dmitry Ilovaysky spoke. Probably, the travelers sat in boats near the modern village Kozye, where the glacial megalith Kon Kamen was the main reference point for the change of transport. This way was known at the time of Ivan III the Great: in the documents of that period it was noted that the embassies to the Turkish sultan were loaded into "on Mecha at Kamenniy Kon". Through the fords on the river detachments of Tatar robbers repeatedly walked in the direction of Dedoslavl, Kashira, Tula, Kolomna. In the toponymy of the region there were preserved the names of their parking places - "tours" - along the way: the villages of Tyrteni (Turteny - day camp), Turmyshev ford, Tormasovo (Turmas), Turdei. The same way the army of Mamai passed in September 1380 in the direction of Moscow, and was stopped at the Kulikovo Field. Cavalry of Dmitry Donskoy after the defeat of the Horde pursued their remains before Turmyshev's ford on Mecha and here stopped the pursuit: beyond the river was the Steppe, that is alien, according to the concepts of that time, the land. But for a long time after the famous Kulikovo battle, the steppe people rushed along the beaten path to the center of Moscow Rus. In the middle of the 16th century, combat encounters with Crimean Tatars occurred repeatedly in the vicinity of Mecha. The news of the victories of Russian soldiers on the Shivoroni (1552), under the Sudbische on the Muravsky Shlykh (1555) are preserved. In the summer of 1558 from Mecha, the Crimean-Nogai army of the Tsarevich Magmet Girey turned around. To protect the southern border from frequent raids, by order of Ivan the Terrible, a defensive line was created - the Tula Zaseki. And on the distant approaches to them - along Mecha and its tributaries - there were points of early warning about the approach of the enemy - watchmen. From here the horse scouts cautiously advanced to the south and watched the movement of the Tatar troops. After discovering the dangerous approach of the enemy, the patrols quickly returned to the sentry post, where the signal was given by the smoke of the mouth. The relay patrol relay was quickly transferred to the zase fortresses, where the regiments were located. Constant patrols were located near the Zelenkov ford (now the village Storozh), near the village of Kozya Borodka (now the village Kozie), in the places where the villages of Strelech'ya Polyana and Dubiki are located, on the Vyazovna River and other places. But not only watchdog patrols, appointed by the royal governors, controlled important roads through Pomechye. Till our days we have heard news about remote people who fled from the northern districts from serf bondage and engaged in robbery, attacking merchants and even Tatar convoys. Clever using the coastal relief, they were the first to engage in battle with the Crimean detachments, robbed the loot and quickly disappeared in impassable thickets and hidden caves. Outstanding Russian historian V.O. Klyuchevsky called the territory on the border of the Forest and Steppe in the Upper Don region "the original birthplace of the Cossacks" One of such Cossack bands at the turn of the XVI - XVII centuries headed, according to legend, Aurem. His residence was between Muravsky and Zelenkovsky shlyahs. Ofrem supervised these ways and patronized local peasants, bortnikam, fishermen, hunters, defended them from the Tatar raids. The good fame of the local Robin Hood has long lived in traditions. The village then appeared on the steep bank of Mecha, named Ophremovskaya. Built in 1637, the city with a prison has inherited the name of a noble robber - it's Efremov. The legends about Ofrem were remembered for a long time by his countrymen. Old-timers said that as early as the beginning of the 20th century, on the site of the present City Garden there was a large stone resembling a chair. He was called The Throne of Ofrem. According to the legend, the ataman was sitting on a rock and running the court, when peasants taken prisoner were brought to him. There were legends about the fact that many treasures are hidden along the banks of Krasivaya Mecha. And in one of the caves near the village of Soldatskoe there is a gold-clad carriage, which was obtained by the Ofrem daredevils either from the merchants or from the Tatar Baskakovs. It was believed that Mamai was forced to abandon his wealth somewhere near Turmyshev ford. Great emptiness is really found along the banks of the river. Perhaps, archaeologists will find many more interesting in coastal barrows and caves, in ancient settlements, in forgotten places of fights with the Horde. Krasivomeche sung in the lyrical works of Ivan Turgenev, Nikolai Pavlov, Andrei Bely, Sergei Malashkin, many other Russian poets and writers, and this album is conceived as an illustration to the inspired words of prominent countrymen (author Valery Ksenofontov, album of photos and reproductions "Krasivomeche", 2009 ).
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Efremovsky District, Tula Region
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