Pyatigorsk – the name being a Russification of Mt Beshtau (Five Peaks) – began life as Fort Konstantinovskaya in 1780. It quickly developed into a fashionable resort as it attracted Russian society to its spas and stately buildings. Today it is the most urbanised and least touristy of the spa towns. If you are pressed for time, however, you would be advised to skip the city and head on to the much more attractive Kislovodsk instead.
Pyatigorsk sprawls south and west from Mt Mashuk (993m). Tree-lined pr Kirova is the main street, running west from the Academic Gallery at the foot of Mt Mashuk through the town centre to the train station. To the northwest looms Mt Beshtau (1400m).