Danube Biospher Reserve: Zero Kilometer
The Danube Biosphere Reserve was founded by the Decree of the President of Ukraine “On Establishment of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve “№ 861 of 10.08.1998 on the basis of the Nature Reserve “The Danube Floodplains” (Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR” on the organization of the State Reserve “Danube Floodplains “№ 203 of 04.23.1981).
1. St. Nikolai Square (Vilkovo Town). The founders and creators of Vilkove are the Lipovans – old-believers who fled from the Russian Empire to Turkish (Ottoman) Empire. First Old Believers fled here, most likely in the XVII century, immediately after the split of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 1709, after the defeat of Bulavinsky uprising, nekrasovtsi (cossaks – oldbelievers who rebelled under the leadership of Ignat Nekrasov) joined the Lipovans.
2. “THREE CHURCHES” point.This is the closest point to the European Union border. It’s interesting that from ancient times the Danube froze in cold winters (which is becoming less frequent now), and animals travelled on ice from one bank to the other. Look at the panoramic view of Vilkove. On the western edge there are buildings from the Soviet era. This area has been inhabited by the Ukrainians (up 25 % of the population). 70 % of the population lives in the central, lipovan, part. The eastern outskirts of the city called Kilimbeyka, is insular. In total, there are dozens of islands in the city. Only from here you can see all three churches of the city at the same time.
4. Miraculous Icons. On the XVIIIth km of Kiliya tributary, within the town of Vilkove, Belgorod tributary runs. The Kiliya tributary itself is divided into Ochakovsky and Starostambulsky, the latter one being the main, according to its hydrological and morphological characteristics. These tributaries are divided into some less important tributaries – the Prorva, Poludenne, Gneushev, Ankudynove, Serednie, Pischane, Bystre, Vostochne and others. Some of them do not have direct access to the sea (the Shabosh, Serednie, Pischane), and the Belgorod and Gneushev are withering away.
6. Farm Museum “CROAKENBURG”. Lypovan insular farm – museum “Croakenburg” is one of the main tourist spots organized by tour operator “Vilkove-Pelican Tour” – the founder of nature tourism in the Danube Delta. It traces its history from 1990, from a tourist complex “Vilkove”. Four picnic pavilions for 20 to 100 seats, comfortable arbors will satisfy the requirements of the most demanding guests. Traditional fish cuisine with authentic lypovan soup and good local wine “Novak”, local honey and herbal tea from a wood- burning brass samovar will make the picnic exceptional.
While visiting stylized monastery stop, one can hear stories about traditions of old believers and taste monastic fish soup or wine.
9. Peter and Paul Monastery. To the right of the route we can see Strait Kazekin groove, through which you can get to the place where a monastery on the island Pischany used to be. In 1857-1860 with the support of Governor of Tulchin Mehmet Sadik-Pasha (Ukrainian Pole from Volyn – Michael Czajkowski), when Lower Danube was part of the Ottoman Empire, a monastery was founded on the island. For 86 years (1860 – 1946), it existed as old believers Peter and Paul monastery. 12 hectares were in its possessions – they were gardens and floodplains. 120 monks (at the time of its greatest prosperity) were engaged in horticulture, gardening, fishing and other crafts.
10. Boundary of The Preserved Zone. Practically the entire territory of the Danube Kiliya Mouth is located within the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (DBR) of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. DBR is an independent environmental and research institution located in the extreme south-west of Ukraine, in Kiliya and Tatarbunary district of Odessa region. DBR administration is in Vilkove. Scientific and research department of integrated monitoring of ecosystems, state protection service, auxiliary and other units operate in the reserve.
11. “0 KM”. The most famous tourist symbol of the Ukrainian Danube – sign “0 km”, which is located at the confluence of the protected Danube and the Black Sea. The point “0 km” is a great opportunity to see the place where the mighty Danube, which unites ten states, finishes its journey. The Danube is the only river in Europe whose length is measured from the confluence with the sea to its source. A symbolic mark which was set here attracts thousands of tourists every year. For over fifteen years, the ritual of passing through “0 km” has been performed. Several times this metal construction has been taken closer to the sea. Thanks to the friendly cooperation between the sea and river waves that lay silt and sand, the youngest dry land in Europe is being formed. Picturesque views have been created not only thanks to variety of landscapes, but also to multi-colored palette of vegetation in different seasons. The main color of wetlands is green of different shades. Tourists throughout the summer can enjoy a relaxing green background and the colors of blooming grasses, mauve, pink, yellow and white blooming plants. Aesthetic and cultural value of natural landscapes of the Danube Delta is not only national but universal. One of the most important ecological and aesthetic features of the delta land is its naturalness, which is one of the highest in Europe. In addition, here the formation of terrestrial ecosystems takes place naturally, without human intervention.
13. Cordon of The Reserve. There are five fishing camps in Kiliya Delta, 3 of which function in the conservation area in accordance with the “Regulations on the Danube Biosphere Reserve” (2008). One of them, a fishing village consisting of houses on stilts, we’ll see along the trail. For fishermen who live in fishing camps, located in the conservation area, the reserve administration has introduced a special pass mode. The number of permits is strictly limited to 305.
14. Delukov Bay. Delukov bay is a bay and the Danube meander before Delukov spit, on which the symbolic mark “0 km” is set. The name “Delukov” possibly comes from the Turkish delik meaning “hole”. In Slavic language environment a typical Russian suffix was attached to the word. The name Delukov, and nicknames associated with it, is known in Vilkove today.
15. Protected Seaside. With the development of the delta not only its appearance changes, but also the position and shape of the coast. Protrusion of riverbeds to the sea occurs together with the delta growth. The youngest part of the Danube Delta – Kiliya Delta – grows the fastest. Here, on the Black Sea coast of Ukraine, within the Danube Biosphere Reserve due to deposits, which the Danube supplies from Europe, the youngest areas of the continent appear. The growth rate of Kiliya Delta nowadays is about 2 km² per year, and the rate of protrusion into the sea – from 0.3 to 34.0 m per year.
16. Poludenne Mouth. When Ochakovske mouth branched off, it gave birth to Poludenne and Polunochne mouth (in old Russian and Ukrainian languages the names mean South and North), and the islands and inland waters were named Ankudynov, Gneushiv, Potapovskyy, Big and Small Lazarkiny, Anankin, Delyukiv, Taranov.
17. Ornithological Tower. Ornithological tower provides panoramic bird watching for visitors of the “0 km” route. A variety of biotopes with sufficient food base and excellent location for nesting, relatively warm climate, and the most important thing – low anthropogenic pressure, has resulted in great species diversity and high numbers of birds in the Danube Delta. According to these indicators it is one of the richest places in Europe. Almost 350 species of birds can be found in the Ukrainian delta, with the total number of birds at certain time of the year up to several million individuals.