Sevastopol (southern Crimea, 100 kilometers west if Yalta) was the former Soviet Union's most important warm water port and naval bases. Home of the Black Sea fleet. it is one of the few places in the former Soviet Union that remained a closed city after the Soviet Union collapsed. The Communist empire's 200 combat vessels and 130 auxiliary ships based were divided between Russia and the Ukraine, with some being sold off, such as an aircraft carrier that ended up in China. For a long time most of the ships are in port because there is no fuel.
Sevastopol was the focal point of the Crimean War. Mark Twain visited the city ten years after the war and said Pompeii was in better condition after being buried by Vesuvius. "Your eye encounters scarcely anything but ruin, ruin, ruin!" he said. During World War II, Sevastopol was leveled again by a 248-day German siege. Unexploded mines are still being removed today.
Sevastopol is still a separate political entity — a federal city — from the rest of Crimea even though both are controlled by Russia. The city is home to 340,00 people. For Russians Sevastopol is synonymous with by the sea. The sea is everywhere. The city’s stone embankment follows the sea rather than a river and as you walk along it you can hear sound of water moving among the pebbles on the beach and see at the ships moored on the quays. Sevastopol is a nice place to come in the off-season. The grass is green even in the winter; roses and chrysanthemums flower until December. It can also be cold and rainy.
The Black Sea Fleet Ensemble Choir is renowned and often puts on performances. For a while the only you could visit Sevastopol was as part of an expensive organized tour.
Getting There: From Moscow to Simferopol, then by road to Sevastopol. See Transportation to the Crimea Public Transport: The most popular form of urban transport is trolleybus (a bus connected to electricity wire). In Sevastopol there are 19 trolleybus routes. There are also minibuses, city and suburban buses that will take you to Inkerman or Balaklava. There are ferry services between the districts of Sevastopol, and passenger boats run from five in the morning until almost midnight. It is not a bad city for bicycling. There are bike rentals. transportation option is bike and bike rental.
Accommodation: “Morskaya Feyeria” (“Sea Extravaganza”) provides guest houses on the coast with outdoor pools. It will be a pleasant stay for any family or company of friends. It has a convinient location, is very close to the beach and offers clean comfortable rooms, barbecue parties, children playgrounds, well-maintained beatiful areas and fresh sea breeze.
The “Rozmarin” (“Rosemary”) hotel is a new hotel comprised of several buildings near the sea in the quiet northern part of Sevastopol. It takes just three minutes to get to a beautiful sandy beach with sun loungers and umbrellas. There is a playground for children, and many cafes. It also has a but stop nearby as well as a sea pier, from where you can easily get to any place in Crimea. The hotel offers a delicious breakfast buffet included in the accomodation price.
Restaurants The “Barkas” restaurant can offer delicious seafood salads, fresh fish, and good wine. We recommend you to try the Crimean oysters. You can also enjoy different kinds of meat and fresh vegetables. The average bill is RUB 1,000. The “Legenda” (“Legend”)is located on the observation deck of Laspi Bay. It offers Mediterranean and European cuisine, which means you can enjoy delicious fresh seafood of any kind. Their specialities are hare steaks, boar ribs and various duck dishes. And the desserts in particular deserve special praise. Not to mention the breathtaking view of the bay! The average bill is RUB 1,200.
Primorsky (Seaside) Boulevard is a favorite place in Sevastopol for strolling and relaxing. It was built on the site of the ruins of the stone fort — Mykolaiv battery — destroyed the French in 1856. The modern layout of the Primorsky Boulevard was developed by in 1905 and features decorative retaining walls, stone benches and pedestrian bridge. The pedestrian arched bridge, is built in a Russian modernist style. Its sides are decorated with bas-reliefs of the emblem of the city and attacking dragons, hence the popular name - "dragon bridge".
Sevastopol Dolphinarium (in Artillery Bay) features Black Sea dolphins and Northern fur seals who can sing dance and paint. The performance is accompanied by music, captivating stories and legends about inhabitants of the sea. Depending on season and weather conditions the show take place in the enclosed hall or in the hall under the open sky. In the summer season it is possible to swim with dolphins in the water area of the pool. The swimming is allowed for children older than five and is carried out under the supervision of experienced instructor-coach. Beside that, all visitors are given the chance to communicate and take photos together with dolphinarium’s animals.
Sevastopol Wineries: The history of winemaking in Sevastopol originates in the 5th century B.C. when the Greek inhabitants of ancient Chersonesus, began to cultivate vines on the fertile Crimean Peninsula. Sevastopol winery is a manufacturer of high-quality sparkling wines using traditional technology with a long history of winemaking. It has won several international awards. Manor Perovsky Wine Estate was founded in 1834. Enterprise PC IC "Terroir", which produces wines under the brand “ChernayaRiverValley”. Uppa Winery, located on a small farm, uses exclusive techniques of winemaking and viticulture, combining respect for nature and attention to detail.
Panorama of the Defense of Sevastopol
Panorama of the Defense of Sevastopol is a spectacular panorama painting (a 360̊ painting viewed from the inside of a cylinder). Called “The Battle of Sevastopol, this huge painting picture has a circumference of 115 meters is 14 meters high. The canvas was painted in 1902-1094 by Franz Roubaud (1856-1928), a Russian artist and famous battle painter who met with the war heroes, visited bastions and battlefields. The result of his work was a panorama showing the most decisive day in the defense of the city — the assault on Malakhov Kurgan. The panorama is one of the 60 largest panoramas in the world. It was restored during the 1950s and draws millions of visitors.
Roubaud was an academician, and leader of the military painting studio of the Imperial Academy of Arts. The work was created under his supervision by a group of German artists in a suburb of Munich. The panorama's opening in 1905 coincided with the 50th anniversary of the heroic defense at Sevastopil. The realistic nature of the exhibit was noted by veterans of the Crimean War who were some of its first visitors. The exhibit displays the events of June 6, 1855 when the besieged Russians repelled six attacks of the French assault on the Malakoff Kurgan Ridge. The assault was a complete failure.
On June 25, 1942, the building of the panorama was destroyed by bombing and artillery bombardment. Only the heroic actions of soldiers and sailors who rushed into the fire helped save 86 fragments of the canvas that, along with the wounded, women and children, were taken to Novorossiysk on the frigate Tashkent. However, the cargo hold with the precious burden was flooded and two thirds of the panorama was not subject to restoration. After the war ended, a group of artists led by member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vasily Yakovlev and then Pavel Sokolov-Skal worked on the restoration of the masterpiece. Soviet Admiral, Professor Isakov and A.N. Kuzmin, Candidate of Military Sciencesб acted as experts. From October 16, 1954, the panorama was again open for general viewing.
The building of the panorama (38 meters in diameter and 36 meters high) dominates the Korabelnaya and Central Portions of Sevastopol, and can be easily seen when entering the city from the mainland and marine routes. The panorama is devoted to the heroism of defenders of Sevastopol during the period of the Oriental (Crimean) War of 1853–1856. This war was the largest pan-European military campaign of the 19th century. The warring parties were Russia, confronted by Turkey, Great Britain, France and the Kingdom of Sardinia (Italy) that had created a military alliance against it.
The militant parties fought for the redistribution of spheres of influence in Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and Asia Minor. However, starting from the fall of 1854, the main efforts of the Allies were concentrated against Crimea in order to destroy the Black Sea Fleet and its main base at Sevastopol. The doom of the heroic city at the southern border of the Russian Empire astounded the world: its defenders repelled the attacks of the strongest European armies for 349 days.
Monument to Sunken Ships in Sevastopol
The Monument to Sunken Ships has become the main symbol of the city of Sevastopol. It is a tall column. At the top sits a bronze eagle holding a sprig of bay leaves in its beak. The monument was designed in 1905 by the military engineer Friedrich Oskar Enberg, the architect Valentin Avgustovich Feldman, and the sculptor Amandus Heinrich Adamson and erected in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the First Siege of Sevastopol, during which the ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet were scuttled to protect the harbor.
After the British, French, and Ottoman forces landed in September 1854 and the Russian troops were defeated on the Alma River, the situation of Sevastopol became very difficult. Anticipating an attack from the sea and a breakthrough by the enemy fleet into the harbor, Russian officers made the decision to scuttle some of the old sailing ships at the gates to the harbor. The gunfire from coastal artillery batteries and the sunken ships made the Northern Bay inaccessible to the enemy's naval forces.
On September 11, 1854, seven old ships (no longer in service) were sent to the bottom across the channel between the Konstaninovsky and Alexandrovsky artillery batteries: the Sizopol and Flora frigates, and the Uriil, Tri Svyatitelya, Silistriya, Selafail, and Varna ships. After autumn and winter storms, as a result of partial destruction of this barrier, a merchant vessel and the Pilad corvette were additionally scuttled in November-December in between the Konstantinovsky ravelin and Sizopol frigate, and the Gavril was sunk next to the Silistriya. Thus the total number of sailing ships on the first barrier line reached ten vessels. In February 1855, a second line of masts sticking out of the water appeared from the Mikhailovsky fort on the northern side to the Nikolayevskaya battery on the southern side. Six more vessels were sunk to the bottom: the Dvenadtsat” Apostolov, Rostislav, and Svyatoslav ships, and the frigages Kagul, Messemvriya, and Midiya.
With the help of sixteen vessels in total, two barrier lines were created. On August 27, 1855, when the defenders retreated from the Southern side, the remaining fleet was also sent to the bottom of the bay. The artillery fire from the coastal batteries and the sunken ships made Sevastopol Bay inaccessible to the British-French fleet.
Beaches in Sevastopol
The Sevastopol area has a number of beaches with in city limits and nearby. Crystal Beach is a city beach is located in the Artillery bay at the foot of the Cape Crystal, in the heart of the city. Victory Park Beach is a pebble beach located in the back of the Victory Park. It is regarded as one of the nicer comfortable beaches in Sevastopol city. Fat Man Beach is a pebble beach located in the Northern District of Sevastopol on Tolstoy Cape on a military base used by the Russian Defense Ministry. Uchkuevka Beach is a sandy beach on a wide coastal strip in the Quay area. It has a large number of cafes, equipment rental, sun loungers and changing rooms.
Omega Beach is a sandy beach regarded as one of the largest and most famous urban recreation areas in Sebastopol. Poselka Kacha is a sandy beach on the Kachin Coast that stands out among the beaches of Sevastopol because of its length and width. Orlovsky Beach in Orlovka is a sandy beach regarded as one of the best beaches on the Crimean peninsula. It is clean, spacious and well-groomed and extends along the coastline for about three kilometers.
Jasper Beach is wild beach, meaning it has no lifeguards and is relatively uncrowded. It is one of the better known beaches on Cape Fiolent. Lost World is a wild beach bound by cliffs of great beauty. The beach got its name because of its inaccessibility and the fact the only way you can reach it is by sea. Lyubimovka Beach is a wild beach with sand mixed with shingles.
Inkerman (16 kilometers from Sevastopol) was established at the site of a Greek-Genoese fortress built to strengthen and expand the borders of Chersonesos. Reached by serpentine coastal roads and surrounded by snow-white rocks, it is home of the Kalamita Fortress, the St. Clement Cave Monastery and the famous Inkerman Winery. Inkerman has two beaches — one near the city park, and the second at the quarry with turquoise water.
Kalamita Fortress in Inkerman is one of the few monuments of the ancient-medieval principality of Theodoro. The south and west of the fortress is protected by cliffs. To north and east is a moat carved into and a wall consisting of three groups of trees with five two-story rectangular structures and a round tower with a travel gate.
The first fortress was built in A.D. 6th century by Greeks who wanted to protect the approaches to Chersonesos. In the 8th-9th centuries the Kalamita monastery was founded, consisting of cave churches, including the Basil Baptistery and numerous monk cells organized in multiple levels In the 12th-15th centuries, the fortress belonged to the Christian principality Theodoro and played an important role protecting Avlita port, which also became known as Kalamita). Conveniently located at the mouth of the Black River, the fortress area served as the major trading port of Theodoro and an "apple of discord" between the Caucasus Highlanders and Coastal-Feodorites Genoese colony.
In 1475 the Kalamita Turks seized the fortress and renamed it Inkerman, which means "cave fortress". After capturing the fortress they partially rebuilt it to use guns. During the Ototoman Turk and Tatar period, foot Kalamita lost its importance and was abandoned. At the time that the Crimea was claimed by Russian Empire in 1783 there were only ruins and cave monastery. Website: chersonesos-sev.ru
Monastery of St. Clement
Monastery of St. Clement (near Inkerman on the right bank of Chernaya river) is situated in caves carved into the Inkerman cliffs. Formerly these caves were used by the inhabitants of Calamita Fortress, built in 1427 by Duke Alexey, the ruler of Theodoro principality, at the location of the more ancient fortifications of Zagaytanskaya wall.
According to a legend, the foundation of the monastery is connected with the name of St. Clement, the fourth Pope, who was exiled for preaching Christianity by emperor Trajan to quarries in the vicinity of Chersonesos and who died as a martyr there in A.D. 101. Researchers believe that the work of carving the basilica of the main temple into the cliffs was begun in the 8th century and construction carried out until the 15th century. Two more cave churches are located here: St. Andrew the Apostle and St. Martin the Confessor.
After the Ottomans captured the fortress in 1475, the Monastery gradually fell into disrepair. The monastery revived after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 1783. The Inkerman monk community was started in 1850 and existed here until 1926, when the Soviet government abolished it. On December 15, 1931, the ancient cave temples ceased functioning as well.
During World War II, the caves of the monastery housed the headquarters of the 25th Chapaev Division of the Coastal Army, which in June 1942 on the Inkerman Heights contained the enemy advancing on Sevastopol. Sixty years after the closure of the monastery, worship service was reinstated through the efforts of the senior priest archimandrite Augustine, monks, and laymen. Gradual revival of the monastery and the restoration of churches began. Some of the relics of the holy martyr Clement were transfered from Kiev. The relics are still kept in the Monastery of St. Clement.
Chelter-Marmara Monastery (16 kilometers east of Sevastopol) is one of the biggest cave monasteries in Crimea. It is situated on the side of a mountain in the picturesque Kara-Kobinskaya valley along with remains of a medieval village with the same name on the mountain slope. Chelter-Marmara means marble lattice.
Five levels of caves can be seen in a forty-meter-high cliff. The exterior the monastery is equipped with a system of wooden ladders, small balconies and passages between levels and separate entrances into caves. Around fifty caves — used as churches, cells, dining rooms, utility rooms — remain well-preserved. The other 30 are severely ruined. Some of them are unattainable and can be accessed only by using special equipment.
Chelter-Marmara is now coming back to life. Previously empty grottos are now inhabited by monks. They mend ladders, make cells warmer, perform routine chores. The brothers use wells dug by ancient monks for collecting water and storing the seeds. Eight of the biggest caves are situated on the second level of monastery complex. Here you can find the biggest cave church in Crimea, covering an area of around 150 square meters, and containing altars, baptismal fonts and even graves. It is situated in the natural but altered karst cavern containing several stone columns carved from rock. the main church of monastery is restored and the iconostasis has been rebuilt in accordance to an ancient custom. The third level of the monastery was almost entirely comprised of monk cells. All kinds of living, religious and utility rooms were situated on the fourth level. It is suggested that the keeper of the monastery used to occupy this floor. A small niche which probably served as a church is situated near the entrance to the fifth level.
Balaklava (part of Sevastopol) is the port near where the Charge of the Light Brigade took place in the Crimean War in 1854. Outside the town is an obelisk commemorating the event. Otherwise Balaclava is a small city with a bay that remains relatively even when storms strike the Black Sea.. Stories circulate about treasures of the sunken English ship “Black Prince”, which carried gold coins — the salary of the British army — during the Crimean War and sank in waters off Balaklava.
Balaklava sits on a narrow winding inlet with a width of only 200–400 meters. Among the sights in the area a 14th century Genoese fortress, the “Barrel of Death” — the observation post of the South Fort of Sevastopol — as well as a Cold War secret — a underground base where submarines were repaired that is now a museum. Gold Beam is a winery established in 1930 that produced "Gold beam" sparkling wines.
The underground submarine base (See Below) was operational until 1993. Said to be virtually indestructible, it was designed to survive a direct nuclear bomb atomic impact. During Soviet era, it was one of the most secret places in the Soviet Union. Almost the entire population of Balaklava at one time worked at the base; even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without a good reason and proper identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started. This process saw the removal of the warheads and low-yield torpedoes. In 1996, the last Russian submarine left the base. The base has since been opened to the public as the Naval museum complex Balaklava.
Object 100 ( a few kilometers from Balaklava Bay) is another secret underground facility built during the Cold War that housed an anti-ship coastal missile system code-named “Object 100", and known among locals as “Sotka”. The facility is hidden by dense vegetation. It is located at an altitude of more than 500 meters above sea level, to the southeast of South Balaklava fort. The only thing that gives it away are the unexplained concrete structures behind some bushes.
In the Crimean War of 1854–56, France and Britain sided with the Ottoman Empire against Russia, which lost the war and saw its power in southeastern Europe reduced. The last great hurrah for the Ottoman Empire, the Crimean War took place north of the Black Sea on the Crimean peninsula and gave us Florence Nightingale, the Charge of the Light Brigade, and the first modern war correspondents.
The Crimean War was a Victorian-era Vietnam for Britain and France. The aim of the conflict was to keep tsarist Russia out the Mediterranean, curb Russian expansion and prevent disruption of French, British and Turkish trade routes to Asia. After a long stalemate Turkey won.
Queen Victoria described the Crimean War, the only British-European War, of her reign unnecessary but authorized the use of force in numerous colonial wars and conflicts. British officers cared little about the fate of their troops and the casualties figures were unnecessarily high and there was general disregard for the health of the troops.
See Separate Article RUSSIA AND THE CRIMEAN WAR factsanddetails.com
Charge of the Light Brigade and the Valley of Death
The Charge of the Light Brigade, immortalized by a poem by Lord Tennyson, was a stupid blunder not a heroic event. During the Battle of Balakava of October 25, 1854 near the Crimean city of Sevastopol, a British commander ordered his lancers and dragoons to chase a Russian unit that was carrying away some captured British cannon.
The whole debacle was the result of a misinterpreted order. The commander of the light bridge received the order: "Advance rapidly to the front and prevent the enemy from carrying off the guns." The commander could not see the captured British cannons and thought the order referred to Russian cannons at the end of the valley, encircled on three sides by Russians, not the place where the cannons were being removed from.
The commander realized that entering the valley was suicidal and complained to his superior, who didn't realize the order had been misinterpreted and told him an order was an order and proceed.
The Light Brigade began heading down a path that exposed them to Russian artillery on three sides. The officer who gave order saw that they were heading in the wrong direction and rode towards them to tell them to change direction but he was hit by a shell before he could warn them. The brigade entered the valley and were shot at from several directions. It reached the Russian cannons and fought with a huge Russian cavalry force. When the British realized they could go no further, they turned around, took more enemy fire, and returned to the place they started.
Of the 670 members of the Light Brigade that entered the Valley of Death only 195 returned alive. Most of the horses were killed or had to be killed later. The general who ordered the charge returned to his yacht in Balaklava Harbor and drank champagne while took bath and condemned the commander for mucking his operation.
The Battle of Balakava was actually a success for the British. The 93rd Highlanders won the epithet "the thin red line" by stopping the initial Russian advance. The 800-man Heavy Brigade charged and routed the 3,000-man Russian cavalry.
See Separate Article RUSSIA AND THE CRIMEAN WAR factsanddetails.com
South Balaklava Fort and the Barrel of Death
The Barrel of Death (in Balaklava Bay) is a construction located high above a beach in Balaklava Bay. The fortification on the top extends over the rock in the form of a barrel made of sheet armor 1.8 meters in diameter and 2 meters in height with observation slits and loopholes. The barrel is attached to the rock over a precipice.
The Barrel of Death is not the only building of the South Balaklava fort. The first fortifications in the mountains near Balaklava were built by the British allied forces in the middle of the 19th century. In the early 20th century, the fort itself — which was a part of the system of southern forts for the defense of Sevastopol — was a system of reinforced concrete structures with loopholes for rifle fire and vaults that were interconnected by ditches. When World War II started, the fortifications were improved by the Soviets.
South Balaklava or rather the Barrel of Death gained popularity among locals and tourists due to a creepy legend that in 1941-1942 Nazis dumped captured Red Army sailors and soldiers there. Such a scene is depicted on one of paintings by Sevastopol artist V.K. Kovalenko. However the credibility of such stories has not been confirmed. Rock climbers who examined the area under the Barrel of Death have never found any remains of possible victims.
Balaklava’s Underground Submarine Base: Built to Withstand a Nuclear Blast
Naval Museum Complex Balaklava (on Balaklava Bay ) was an underground submarine base and top-secret military facility during the Cold War. Also known as "The Cold War Museum", designation K-825, and originally known as Object 825 GTS, it now serves as a museum and also houses a museum about the Crimean War.
The underground submarine base was operational until 1993. Said to be virtually indestructible, it was designed to survive a direct nuclear bomb atomic impact. During Soviet era, it was one of the most secret places in the Soviet Union. Almost the entire population of Balaklava at one time worked at the base; even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without a good reason and proper identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started. This process saw the removal of the warheads and low-yield torpedoes. In 1996, the last Russian submarine left the base. The base has since been opened to the public as the Naval museum complex Balaklava.
The complex is built to withstand a category-I, 100-kiloton nuclear blast and includes an underground network of water channels complete with a dry dock, repair shops, warehouses for torpedoes and other weapons. There are also areas built to protect personnel and local residents from nuclear fallout and caisson gates capable of sealing off the entire complex. The complex is located in Tavros mountain, on both sides of which are exits, including one to the open sea on the northern side of the mountain. The holes in the rock are neatly covered with camouflage devices and networks.
Object 825 GTS was intended to house, repair and maintain Project 613 Whiskey-class and Project 633 Romeo-class submarines. The 602-meter-long central water channel of the facility could accommodate up to seven submarines if necessary, and up to 14 submarines of different classes in all water channels. The water channels have depths up to 8 meters, with widths ranging from 12 to 22 meters. The total area of all facilities in the complex is around 9600 square meters, while the total surface area of water stands at 5200 square meters.
Equipment loading in peacetime was carried out on the pier, while watching out for spy satellites. A special tunnel was set up for loading equipment into the base in wartime. The complex also includes a repair and technical base, codenamed Object 280, designed for storing and maintaining nuclear arsenal.Submarines could enter and exit the base completely submerged through its underwater access point. The Soviet Navy trained dolphins at this facility to attach underwater beacons and explosives to submarines and ships.
The construction of the facility took place when tensions high between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War after World War II. At a time when the two superpowers were building up their nuclear arsenals, threatening each other with pre-emptive strikes and retaliatory strikes, Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin gave Lavrentiy Beria (who was responsible at that time for nuclear projects), a secret directive; to find a place where they could house submarines for a retaliatory nuclear strike. Balaklava Bay was selected in part because it difficult to see from sea-based reconnaissance and it was close to the major naval base at Sevastopol. In 1957 a special construction department coded as No. 528 was created to build the underground facilities. Construction took eight years, from 1953 to 1961. About 120,000 tons of rock was removed from the Tavros mountain. To ensure secrecy supplies and material were transported at night. The facility was unguarded from 1993, after it closed, until 2003 when it open as a museum.
Chersonesus: Ancient Greek Black Sea Site
Chersonesus (near Inkerman and Sevastopol) was an ancient Greek port where elegant mosaics and fluted columns have been unearthed. It was founded by Greeks in the 5th century B. C. on the northern Black Sea coast. During its long history, it survived the rule of Rome and Byzantium, always maintaining a degree of autonomy. Today the Tauric Chersonesus National Reserve is a large museum and research institution. It consists of an ancient settlement, unique agricultural plots (so-called Choras) as well as the medieval fortresses of Cembalo and Calamita.
Chersonesus’s history is closely linked with the Tauri and Scythians, Goths and Alans, Khazars and the Rusich, the Genoese and the Golden Horde. Medieval Chersonesus (Kherson) played an important role in the spread of Christianity in the formative years of the Russian state. According to medieval chronicles, it is the place where prince Vladimir (the Great) was baptized. For almost two thousand years Chersonesus played an important role as a transit point and cultural and political center in the northern Black Sea region. However, after devastating raids by nomads in the 13th-14th centuries, the city sank declined.
The Tauric Chersonese State Museum-Preserve is one of the greatest archaeological monuments in southern Russia and Ukraine. Its size, level of preservation, and location attract scientists and travelers, local historians and antiquarians. Excavations of Chersonesus have taken place since the mid 19th century, Visitors to the reserve can walk through ancient streets and see city walls, city blocks, churches and public buildings. There is an ancient theater and a see the museum expositions.
Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese: UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 2013 the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site According to UNESCO: Tauric Chersonese and its chora are the remains of an ancient city, founded in the 5th century BCE as a colonial settlement of the Dorian Greeks, located on the Heraclean Peninsula in south-west Crimea. The polis and extended chora of Tauric Chersonese form an outstanding example of an ancient cultural landscape, consisting of a Greek polis and its agricultural hinterland established as part of colonist activities in the 4th and 3rd century BCE. The significant archaeological ruins of the city retain physical remains constructed between the 5th century BCE and the 13th century AD laid out on an orthogonal grid system. The basic orientation of this orthogonal grid continues into the wider landscape where fragments of a vast land demarcation system of 400 equal allotments in an area of 10,000 hectares have been preserved.
“The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its chora is an exceptional example of a peripheral center of movement of people which acted as an important gateway to the north-eastern parts of the Greek trade influence, including the Crimea and the Scythian state. The city maintained its strategic role over almost two millennia and provides a unique example for the continuity and longevity of a mercantile outpost connecting the different Black Sea trade routes.”
“The site features the remains of a city founded by Dorian Greeks in the 5th century BC on the northern shores of the Black Sea. It encompasses six component sites with urban remains and agricultural lands divided into several hundreds of chora, rectangular plots of equal size. The plots supported vineyards whose production was exported by the city which thrived until the 15th century. The site features several public building complexes and residential neighbourhoods, as well as early Christian monuments alongside remains from Stone and Bronze Age settlements; Roman and medieval tower fortifications and water supply systems; and exceptionally well-preserved examples of vineyard planting and dividing walls. In the 3rd century AD, the site was known as the most productive wine center of the Black Sea and remained a hub of exchange between the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires and populations north of the Black Sea. It is an outstanding example of democratic land organization linked to an ancient polis, reflecting the city’s social organization.
The site is important because: 1) “Tauric Chersonese provides an outstanding physical testimony to the exchange that took place between the Greek, Roman and Byzantine Empires and the populations north of the Black Sea. The polis and its chora stand out for having retained this role as a center of exchange of influences and cross-fertilization between these cultures for a very long time and with continuity over millennia.” 2) The site “represents a relict agricultural landscape of a vast and, at locations, well-preserved land allotment system, of formerly over 400 equal allotments connected to a preserved polis. The remains of the division walls, fortifications, farmsteads and the characteristic grid layout embodied the lifestyles of the city’s inhabitants and illustrate the agricultural use and continuity of the landscape despite later changes in production.”
Jeski-Kermen Cave City
Jeski-Kermen (10 kilometers east of Inkerman, not far from Holmovka town) is the biggest cave city in the Crimea.. A tower was built by Byzantines at the end of the 6th century for the Chersonese’s defense. Khazars destroyed the city in the 8th century, but remained in their caves The city was destroyed more completely in 1299 in Golden Horde raid by Emir Nogaj, avenging his grandson’s death . The original name of the city has been forgotten. Jeski-Kermen (The old fortress) is a medieval Tartar name. Jeski-Kermen The city is located in 18 kilometers southwest of Bakhchysarai, on a hill with a flat top, steep slopes and inaccessible cliffs. The hill is about 300 meters high and stretches from north to south. The mountain’s top resembles plane wing and it is 1040 meters. long and 200 meters wide. The cave city is on the southern extremity of the plateau.
The north side the plateau is a bit oblong and descends northwards, ending with a cliff. the west and east of cave city of Jeski-Kermen are bounded by cliffs up to 30 meters high. On the south side the cliffs are not very high. Here there is a winding path, carved right in the cliff at the top. This part of plateau had a strong defensive wall. One of the more parts of the is 50-meter-deep “siege well” carved into a cliff. One can see a gallery with water by descending 77 steps.
The square part of the plateau covers 10 hectares. The city within the defensive walls covers 8,16 hectares. The Church of the “Three Riders” is preserved here. It is carved in a separate cliff and is known for its frescos, which depict three riders. The names of the riders are not precisely known, but scientists believe they are Saint Theodore Stratelates, Saint George and Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki. The riders wear cuirasses, there is a shield on the left shoulder of each, lances in hands, cloaks are flying behind them. The rider in the middle is pictured striking the snake, others have their lances up. On the horse’s croup is a boy’s figure, holding a pommel. Horses’ tails are tight, and the harness is very expensive.
Yalta (60 kilometers east of Sevastopol and 100 kilometers, 1½ hours, south of Simferepol) is a well endowed resort where Chekhov, Tolstoy and Rachmaninov spent some time, where Tsar Alexander II built a great palace, and where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met towards the end of World War II to agree on the terms for ending the war and carving up the world.
Located on the on the southern Crimean coast on Black Sea and situated among mountains and farm country, Yalta is home to about 90,000 people, pebble beaches and a wave-splashed cement boardwalk, called the Lenin Embankment. There are highrise resort hotels nestled among hills with lush vegetation. Some people say it reminds them of the Riviera. The name of the city comes from the Greek word “Yalos”, which means “Coast”. According to legend, some lost Greek travelers traveled for a long time on the Black Sea and could not find land. When suddenly it appeared from out of the mist, they cries “Yalos!” when they saw the shore.
Chekhov came to Yalta in 1899 for treatment for tuberculosis and the described the town in the early 20th century as "a mixture of something European that reminds one of views of Nice, with something cheap and shoddy. The box-like hotels in which unhappy consumptive are pining, the impudent Tatar faces, the ladies' bustle with their very undisguised expressions of something very abominable, the faces of the idle rich, longing for cheap adventures, the smell of perfumery instead of the scent of cedars, and the sea, the miserable dirty pier, the melancholy lights far at sea, the prattle of young ladies and gentlemen who have crowded here in order to admire nature of which they have no idea—all this is taken together produces such a depressing effect and is so overwhelming that one begins to blame oneself for being biased or unfair." Chekhov died in Germany.
Sights in Yalta
Yalta is considered the resort capital of the Crimea. It receives a fair amount of tourists and even contains a relatively helpful; tourist office (at the Hotel Yalta) that arranges variety of tours and finds guides for you. The main draws are beaches, parks sanatorium, palaces, castles, museums, ancient historical sites and nature. As Yalta is a seaport, it attracts a fair number of cruise ships. You can also do boating trips from the city to places like the Swallow's Nest, Parus Rock and Cape Ai-Todor.
Among the palaces worth checking are Massandra, Livadia, and Vorontsovsky. The main attraction in the town is Naberezhna Lenina (Lenin Embankment), a vehicle-free waterfront promenade with gardens, pebble beaches, palm trees, souvenir sellers, ice-cream vendors, Chekhov's “Lady with a Dog” monument, sidewalk portrait painters and photographers with tropical props.
Many of the main beaches and some old wooden houses are around Prymorsky Park. Other sights include the Artists's Union Exhibition Hall, the Alexander Nevsky cathedral, Fart Tae Galde, featuring characters from Russian, Ukrainian and Western fairy tales. Many places of interest are not in Yalta itself.
Crimean Trolleybus is the longest trolleybus line in the world with a total length of 86 kilometers (53 miles). It surmounts a 752-meter (2,740-foot) mountain pass connects Simferopol in central Crimea with Yalta. There also and a chair lift ride from Prymorsky Park.
Kirov Sanitorium features a windowless room where men and women breath in air impregnated with a mist of salt particles. the treatment is said to be good for bronchitis, asthma, sinus problems and one visit in the 2000s only costs seven cents. A $75 per person boat cruise looks for dolphins and passes the cliffs of Yalta. There a pleasant hikes to waterfalls and mountains. Local vineyards offer wine-tasting tours.
Chekhov's House Museum is where Chekhov lived during the last five years of his life (1899 to 1904), hosted Tolstoy and Rachmaninov, and wrote the “Three Sisters,” “The Cherry Orchard,” “The Lady and the Dog” and “The Bishop.” There is a house, garden and exhibition. Among the memorabilia on display of copies of Chekhov's books, medical stuff and gardening gloves.
Yalta Hotel has sarcastically been called the Russian equivalent of the Ritz. It has over 2,500 beds, and a saltwater swimming pool where tattooed members of the Russian Mafia and their bodyguards, Moscow businessmen, foreign dealmakers and $100-a-night hookers all rub elbows. For many the Yalta Hotel is a monstrous eyesore.
Near Yalta are a number of beaches, palaces, forests and other places of interest. They can be reached by ferry, bus, trolley bus or taxi. About five kilometers east of Yalta is Nikitsky Botanical garden, an impressive expanse that occupies the side of a small mountain. It boasts 2,800 species of plant and 2,000 kinds of roses.. The territory of Big Yalta with a length of more than 70 kilometers covers an area of 900 hectares, embracing 30 villages, such including Gurzuf, Nikita, Massandra, Alupka, Foros, Gaspra and Simeiz, each with something worth seeing in them.
Livadia Palace (three kilometers west of Yalta) contains the White Hall where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met in eight secret meeting in February 1945 during the Yalta Conference. The table is not the original but is a replica of the one used at the meetings. The palace used by the leaders was built under tsar Nicholas II, the last Russian tsar. Pictures of the imperial family having tea, playing and swimming in the Black Sea have been pulled out of storage since the collapse of the Soviet Union and are now displays. Guides used be forbidden to mention Nicholas II but can talk freely about him and his family.
Yusupov Palace is where Stalin lived during the 1945 Yalta Conference. The former villa of a rich tsarist-era family, it contains the four-room Stalin suite, a $500-a night apartment with antique furniture and 20-foot-high ceilings.
Yalta Beaches include "Massandra" beach, a pebble beach surrounded by a beautiful natural landscapes and vegetation. The beach hotel "Yalta-Intourist" is a colorful place with a pebble beach and a bunch of recreation facilities. It has 1140 rooms, each with a balcony with a view of the sea, the mountains, and the city of Yalta.
Soviet-Era Dachas and Resorts Near Yalta
Nizheny Oreanda was a "closed" 60-acre Black Sea resort that was used by many Soviet leaders and was so secret it wasn’t even on the map. Since the break up of the Soviet Union it has been opened to tourists who can afford the hefty accommodation fees. The resorts has a private beach, seaside tennis courts, gyms, saunas, a heated indoor pool and walkways that wander among beautifully-maintained gardens, and a spa that offers mud therapy. The food is less than first rate. Dacha I is where Gorbachev, Brezhnev and Khrushchev stayed.
The dacha favored by Khrushchev and Brezhnev, where they entertained the likes of Indira Gandhi, Tito, Ho Chi Minh and Richard Nixon unfortunately is off-limits to most tourists. The palatial estate has indoor and outdoor movie theaters, sliding-glass walls, bars, ponds, fountains and a bomb shelter 250 feet below the ground.
Foros (32 kilometers west of Yalta) is the Crimean resort where Gorbachev built a three-story dacha with an escalator to the beach, a separate recreation building, and quarters for guests, doctors and guards. This was is where the former Soviet leader was placed under house arrest during the failed coup attempt in August 1991. Foros Church is a stunning golden-spired and black-domed structure built perched on the edge of a limestone cliff, surrounded by trees, and overlooking the Black Sea.
Alupka (16 kilometers west of Yalta) is the home of a bizarre estate deigned by English architects and built between 1828 to 1848. by thousands of serfs for Count Mikhail Voronstov. Overlooking, the castle is a strange amalgamation of Scottish and Arabic features. Highlights include Italian-made lions, a delightful sun room and dining room with outstanding woodwork and a balcony for musicians.
Alupka is a picturesque town of about 10,000 people on the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula. Situated near the foot of Mount Ai-Petr, its known for its quaint architecture, parks and winding streets of the old town. In the city there are numerous motels and hotels designed for rest and treatment of adults and children. The population of the town swells during the tourist season. Some of vineyards in the area offer wine-tasting tours
Mount Ai-Petri is accessible by the unique Miskhor-Ai-Petri cable car. One can get from Simferopol to Alupki by bus from Alupka". By car you can get to Alupka from Simferopol by traveling south on the highway to Alushta and Yalta. The distance is about 100 kilometers, and travel time is about two hours. There are good bus links between Yalta and Alupka.
Gurzuf (20 kilometers northeast of Yalta, 70 kilometers from Simferopol airport) is a charming village favored by artists and writers located on the southern coast of Crimea.. Also spelled Hurzuf, it is built over a scenic bay and backed by 1,545-meter-high Mt. Roman-Kosh. Nearby is a rocky massif called Genoese Cliff and several nice beaches. Among the tourist sights are the Hurzufsky Sanatorium, Pushkin in Crimea Museum, Chekhov's Dacha and a clifftop fortress built by the Byzantines and rebuilt by the Genoese. Kerch is 247.9 kilometers by ferry.
Gurzuf is one of the most charming towns on the southern coast of the Crimea. Located at the mouth of the Avunda river, it features preserved paved roads built by the Romans and a historic main street patronized in the 19th century by wealthy Russian merchants. Twelve-hectare Gurzufsky park was founded in 1803, and still has it original 19th century fountains and ancient-Greek-themed sculptures and 110 species of ornamental trees and shrubs, including olive, palm, laurel and banana trees. Check out the "Night" fountain. If you have the time and energy, climb to the Arbor of winds on the edge of a rocky cliff at Sagan-Kaya in Gurzuf Valley. At a height of 1,400 meters there are breathtaking view of Mount Ayu-Dag and villages. On a clear day can look out over the sea for 150 kilometers.
Pushkin Museum contains six halls, where you can see lifetime editions of Pushkin, objects of the Crimean life of the early 19th century and Pushkin's era. On the back side of the house are the famous cypress trees mentioned by the poet. Pushkin said some of the happiest days of his life were spent in Gurzuf. The building, which now houses the museum, was the first European-style building on the southern coast of Crimea.
Chekhov's house can be found by following a sign on the road that says "To the doctor Chekhov." This street lead to the sea, where the house sits on the shore of a tiny bay. A branch of the Yalta Chekhov House-Museum, the house is where the play "Three Sisters" was written. One of the cleanest beach in Gurzuf town area is on the bay, at the foot of Dzhenevez-Kaya rock, and can be reached from the house-museum of Chekhov.
The old "Romanov Road" runs from the village of Gurzuf Partisan to Gurzufskoe pass. In the early 20th century a 12- kilometer walking trail was built for the royal family through the Nikita breech garden. You can also walk through the "bear" landscape of 571-meter-high Ayu-Dag mountain. Here and there are "bear" ruins of medieval buildings, basilicas and churches of the Middle Ages. At the foot of the mountain some stone tools, dated to 800,000 years agom were found.
The beaches tend to be pebble beaches, often surrounded by rocky terrain. Near the town of the beaches have well-developed infrastructure, but are usually crowded in the tourist season. Urban beaches are located at the beginning and at the end of the promenade. The beaches of Ayu-Dag are usually empty but difficult to get to.
In the evening take a leisurely stroll along the white-marble Gurzuf waterfront. Musicians, artists and poets often gather here. Small restaurants often have live music. There scenic views of the Ayu-Dag and Adalary from the pier, which extends far into the sea. Boat rides are available to Yalta, Alupka and other destinations. Nikitsky botanical garden has flower festivals which change every month, including tulips and irises in "Lilac victory" and "Pink Waltz" in May,lilies in June, and the famous chrysanthemum parade in October. In the early spring, carpets of flowers appear on Ayu-Dag.
Mountains and Natural Sights Near Yalta
The Crimean Game Reserve (eight kilometers from Yalta) contains a small zoo with deer, bears, wild boar, and wild sheep. Among the popular day trip destinations are 100-meter-high Uchansu Waterfall, Lake Karagol and 1233-meter-high Mt. Ai-Petri. The Botkin path is a hiking trail with beautiful views of the mountains and sea.
Aj-Petri Mountain is one of the symbols of southern Crimea. Its height is 1234 meters high and has four sheer limestone peaks. The observation area can be reached by car or on foot or even by bike. Also worth a look are Ledjanaja (Icy) Cave, with a huge accumulation of ice, in the central part of the plateau, not far from Aj-Petri jags. Inside the cave there is an underground lake with the square about 300 square meters. Thousand-year yew trees grow near the main ridge’s precipice, on the forest border. The Mishor-Aj-Petri cableway takes passengers from it lower station of Mishor at 80 meters above sea level to the upper station at 1176 meters. The trip by road takes 20 minutes.
Cape Ai-Todor is a scenic promontory that juts out into the Black Sea. For a long time it served as a landmark on the way sailors. On top of the spur is a lighthouse, whose beacon is visible 80 kilometers out at sea. Nearby are forests with juniper, pistachio and trees. Some of the huge pistachio trees are very old. On the eastern edge of the cape above a steep cliff is the well-known "Swallow's Nest".
Swallow's Nest (10 kilometers west of Yalta) is neo-Gothic castle sitting on a rocky cliff overlooking the Black Sea. It has been turned into a restaurant and is featured on many tourist posters.
Grand Canyon of Crimea (20 kilometers west of Yalta) is a huge ravine with huge boulders, rapids and waterfalls, natural pools with clear emerald water. On of the first people to explore it was the famous Crimean geologist I.I.Puzanov. In 1925 he wrote in “On Untrodden Crimea”: "This corner is imbued with some special charm. It seems that Auzun Uzen as if resting, having received reinforcements from Almachuka again rush into the last gorge, formed by the right and left low cliffs. Resting the river and all the tract, lost in the depths of the mountains, beckoned us to rest under the shade of the thick bushes dogwood, under the melodious sound of two mountain streams, where fun playing nimble trout. " Miracle of nature is called a wild, grand canyon, located in 4 kilometers southeast of the village of Falcon.
“As we move deeper into the canyon from the valley Kokozskoy higher and steeply, looms ever closer to each other the slopes of the giant chasm. In the narrowest places the width of the canyon is less than 3-5 meters, it is dangerous even to speak loudly - possible rockfalls. gorge depth is 320 meters, length - more than 3 kilometers. Chief sculptor who created this phenomenon of nature - water. On the grand river can be seen in abundance at the bottom of the canyon rapids, waterfalls, boulders and piles of boulders. For centuries movable water-millstones these natural core drilled into a bed boilers peculiar gorge and "bath", reaching 5-6 meters in diameter and 3.2 meters deep. The water is clear and cold, so they are called "baths of youth".
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation (official Russia tourism website russiatourism.ru ), Russian government websites, UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Yomiuri Shimbun and various books and other publications.
Updated in September 2020