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Crimea: Pearl of the Black Sea

30 September 2018

Population: 2,35 mln (1,92 mln - Republic of Crimea, 430'000 - Sevastopol)
Territory: 27 000 sq km
Official Languages (since 2014): Russian, Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar
Largest cities: Sevastopol, Simferopol, Kerch, Yalta, Yevpatoria

Photo: Crimea’s coastline

Crimea is a unique region of Russia, remarkable for its natural beauty and wonders, medicinal climate, numerous historical sites, great cuisine and wineries – anything you would want from your go-to vacation destination, Crimea has it.

The region has always attracted attention: for centuries it has been a crossroads, a point of convergence of civilizations and peoples, which embraced and preserved cultures and legacies.

One of Crimea’s most famous attractions is its velvety, sunny weather. Little can compare to taking sunbaths on the beaches of Yevpatoria, Yalta or Feodosia and listening to the soothing sound of tidal waves. The Crimean Peninsula is considered to be one of the warmest and sunniest regions of Russia: here summer lasts from mid-May till the beginning of October. It’s usually hot during the day but soft and refreshing breezes will keep you cool.

Thanks to its climate and unique geographic position, Crimea houses numerous health resorts: from mud baths to mineral springs and even salt lakes known for their healing properties.


Crimea’s Landmarks

Long and eventful history of Crimea made it a perfect place for sightseeing. The Peninsula has nearly all kinds of impressive landmarks: from palaces and monuments to nature reserves and ancient cities. When you travel to Crimea, make sure to see all of its fabulous mansions and castles such as the Swallow’s Nest – a castle built on a 40 m high Aurora Cliff. For those who prefer to find themselves in front of a very special monument, the Obelisk of Glory on top of Mount Mitridat in the city of Kerch would be a perfect choice.

Photo: Swallow's Nest

This Obelisk is dedicated to the Soviet soldiers and officers of Separate Coastal Army and Azov Flotilia who fell in battles for the liberation of Crimea during World War II.

One of the most remarkable sights of Crimea is the Ottoman-era city of Bakhchisarai (Garden city), the ancient capital of the Khans. It includes the impressive main palace of Bakhchisarai, the Golden Fountain, the Fountain of Spirits, the Khan mosque, the Khan cemetery, the 18th-century mausoleum of the beloved wife of Khan Krym Girey - Dilyara Bikech.

If you want to know more about Crimea’s history and nature, you should visit its numerous nature reserves and archeological complexes such as the cave city of Chufut-Kale – a true medieval fortress in the Crimean Mountains. The ridges were an obstacle for the Hun horse riders (IV-VI centuries), which prevented them from taking the entire peninsula. Local people erected fortified cave cities to escape from the nomads, and many of these cities lasted up until the 18th century.

 

 

 

 

Photo: The Yalta Conference

The Livadia Palace was designed as a summer residence (or ‘dacha’) in the Italian style and ended up being the last residence built for the Russian imperial family, the Romanovs. It was a site of many significant historical events, such as the Yalta Conference, where the leaders of the Allied forces met in 1945.

Crimea awards its explorers with an unforgettable experience, something truly special and unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Sevastopol – Crimea’s Beating Heart

Sevastopol is one of the most prominent Russian cities – a symbol of Russia’s strength and unity of its people. Founded in the vicinity of ancient Greek fortresses, it has long become the heart of Russian military glory and valour.

Photo: Sevastopol

No wonder that when its first stone was laid in 1783 by the decree of Russian Empress Catherine the Great, the new settlement was called Sevastopol - “the magnificent city” in Greek. History showed that it was worthy of the title: peaceful and quiet nowadays, Sevastopol has a “service record” full of glorious battles.

Time and again this city fought against foreign invaders, during the Crimean War (1853-1856) and during World War II (the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)). Numerous war memorials (such as Monument to Sunken Ships and the Memorial of Heroic Defence of Sevastopol) serve as a reminder of the city’s heroic past. The importance of Sevastopol for Russian history cannot be overestimated: it serves as Russia’s main military outpost in the Black Sea region, a vigilant guardian keeping the borders safe.

Crimea – The Cradle of Russian Christianity

Crimea holds a very special place in a Russian heart as it is one of the centres of Russian spirituality. It was here that the Grand Prince Vladimir the Great was baptized and embraced the Christian Faith.

This happened on Crimean soil in the ancient city of Chersonesus Taurica, which is why the Crimean Peninsula is often called the cradle of Russian Orthodox Faith. Vladimir the Great’s decision to accept and spread Orthodox Christianity in Russia, without exaggeration, defined future history.

Photo: Saint Vladimir Cathedral

The Baptism of Rus happened soon after, in 988, in the Seat of Power of the Ancient Rus – Kiev, in the waters of the Dnepr River. To this day Crimea remains one of the most important centres of Orthodox Faith with all of its ancient churches and shrines such as the Church of St John the Baptist in Kerch (constructed between VIII and XI centuries) or the Saint Vladimir Cathedral built on the site of Chersonesus Taurica, and many others.

A Place of Inspiration

Anyone who has ever visited Crimea cannot remain indifferent towards its unparalleled beauty and enchanting atmosphere. The fascination of this land can find a way so deeply into one’s soul that it can awaken their thirst for creation.

Photo: Anton Chekhov with Leo Tolstoy

It is no surprise that Crimea became a true source of inspiration for many great artists, such as Ivan Aivazovsky and Isaac Levitan, who gave the world imperishable masterpieces, which are considered to be among the world’s finest pieces of art. Famous Russian poets and writers such as Alexander Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov and many others visited the region.

It left an incredible mark on many artists’ hearts and it still remembers their visits. To this day, there are lots of monuments, memorial tables and other mementos dedicated to the creative geniuses as a token of recognition of their talent. Crimea – is a true treasury and has been a great source of inspiration for the Russian culture.

Visiting Crimea is a unique chance to follow in the great artists’ footsteps.

The Crimean Bridge

The construction of the Crimean Bridge began in May 2015 with a purpose to link the Crimean Peninsula to continental Russia.

Photo: The Crimean Bridge

With a length of 19km it is the longest bridge in both Europe and in Russia. The idea to connect Crimea to mainland Russia has been on people’s minds for a long time, but due to difficult soil and maritime conditions, only modern technologies allowed for it to happen.

Of all infrastructure projects in Russia in recent years, the construction of the Crimean Bridge was the most ambitious and extensive: its vehicular road is already up and running (the road was launched on 15 May 2018 by President Vladimir Putin), while the railroad line is still under construction.

The Crimean Bridge is a truly nation-wide project: the Bridge’s name was selected through public voting and the Bridge even has its own talisman: a white-ginger cat called Mostik (“a little bridge” in Russian) who lived at the Bridge’s construction site since works started.

Moreover, Mostik was the first to walk on the newly built bridge on 15 May 2018 – the cutest approval bridge constructors could ever receive.

The Valley of Ghosts

If you are looking for breathtakingly beautiful landscapes or views on the Black Sea, Crimea is the best place to be in.

Photo: Ghost Valley

While there are many landmarks on the Peninsula, one of them has a very special reputation. This place is called the Valley of Ghosts – a natural wonder located on the western flank of Demerdji Mountain (also known as the Mountain of Blacksmiths).

The Valley houses hundreds of rock pillars of all possible shapes: animals, mystical creatures or even humans. Some of them are rather small, but others (the so called “Giants”) can be 25 m tall.

What figures would you see in these rocks?

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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November/December 2018

 
 
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