In the 6th century BC a Greek colony was established in the area of the modern day city. The Greek city of Chersonesus existed for almost two thousand years, first as an independent democracy and later as a part of the Bosporan Kingdom. In the 13th and 14th centuries it was sacked several times by Mongol Hords and was finally totally abandoned. The modern day city of Sevastopol has no connection to the ancient or medieval Greek city, but the ruins are a popular tourist attraction protected as an archaeological park and located in the outskirts of the city.
Chersonesus’ ruins were excavated by the Russian government, starting from 1827. The 1935 Basilica is the most famous basilica excavated in Chersonesus. The original name is unknown so “1935” refers to the year it was opened.
Sevastopol was founded in June 1783 as a base for the Russian naval squadron. There are a several opinions about the official founder of Sevastopol . One of them states that Sevastopol was founded by Rear Admiral Thomas Mackenzie (1740–1786) a native Scot in Russian service .
Five years earlier, Alexander Suvorov ( Generalissimo of the Russian Empire) ordered that earthworks be erected along the harbour and Russian troops be placed there.
In February 1784, Catherine the Great ordered Prince Grigory Potemkin to build a fortress there and call it Sevastopol .
HIM Catherine II awarded Sir Thomas Mackenziethe Order of St. George Class 4 for his contribution to the destruction of the Turkish Fleet at the Battle of Chesme in 1770. His father was also Thomas and was a Rear Admiral in the Russian Navy and died in 1765, he married the granddaughter of Admiral Sir Thomas Gordon, Governor of Kronstadt ( St. Petersburg, Russia) Rear Admiral Sir Thomas MacKenzie was the 2nd Great Grandson of the George MacKenzie 2nd Earl Of Seaforth.
The Crimea is a tempting destination for anyone interested in military history. The 1854 – 1855 Crimean War battlefields are covered over by the detritus of WWII.
The 1854-55 Siege of Sevastopol was carried out by the British, French, Sardinian, and Turkish troops during the Crimean War against the Russian Empire, the city being home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
|Casualties and losses|
||Total casualties:102,000 killed, wounded, and died from disease|
Allied forces had planned to defeat the city in a week, but greatly underestimated the resilience of the Russian troops. In fact the Siege of Sevastopol lasted for a further 11 months. Winter brought on severe suffering and heavy casualties among the allied troops, whose commanders had made little or no provision for a winter campaign. This situation produced several crises within the British government.
On Sept. 8, 1855, French troops took and held the Malakhov, a vital defensive position at the south eastern end of the city. On September 11 the Russians scuttled their Black Sea Fleet in the harbour to stop British and French entering the bay. There were seven vessels in all – five battleships and two frigates (battleships “Silistra”, “Uriel”, “Selafail”, “Three Saints” and “ Varna ”, frigates “Sizopol” and “Flora”). But soon the autumn storms began to destroy the barrier of sunken ships. Therefore on 5th of November they scuttled the 84-gun “Gabriel”, on 14th of December the Corvette “Pylades”. On the night on 13th of February 1855 there was a second line between the Michael and Nikolaev batteries and the battleships “Twelve Apostles”, “Svyatoslav”, “Rostislav” together with the frigates “Cahul” and “Messembria” were then sent to the bottom of sea. Three days later they were joined by the frigate “Mussel”.
Monument to the Scuttled Ships – a monument in Sevastopol the emblem of the city designed by sculptor Amandus Adamson, architect Valentin Feldman and military engineer Friedrich Enberg. The monument was built in 1905 for the 50th anniversary of the First Defense of Sevastopol (1854-1855)
After Russians had scuttled all sailing ships and blocked up the entrance to Sebastopol Bay they blew up the fortifications, and evacuated Sevastopol. The allies took the city and the war then moved rapidly towards an end in early 1856.
During the Victorian Era, these battles were repeatedly commemorated. The Siege of Sevastopol was the subject of Crimean soldier Leo Tolstoy‘s Sebastopol Sketches and the subject of the first Russian feature film, Defence of Sevastopol. The Battle of Balaklava was made famous by Alfred, Lord Tennyson‘s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and Robert Gibb‘s painting The Thin Red Line, as well as by a panorama of the siege painted by Franz Roubaud. Treating the wounded from these battles were celebrated English nurses Mary Seacole and Florence Nightingale.
Monument to fallen French and Russian soldiers 27 August 1855. Malakoff mound.
In 1854 – 1855 the 349 days of heroic siege went down in history as the First Siege of Sevastopol. The Second Siege lasted 250 days during the WW II.
The Great Siege of 1942 (from which Sevastopol was give Soviet Hero City status).
During World War II, Sevastopol withstood intensive bombardment by the Germans in 1941–42, supported by their Italian and Romanian allies during the Battle of Sevastopol . The Soviet naval base at Sevastopol was one of the world’s strongest fortifications. Its site, on a deeply eroded, bare limestone promontory at the south western tip of the Crimea , made an approach by land forces exceedingly difficult. German forces were forced to use railway artillery and specialised heavy mortars to destroy Sebastopol’s extremely heavy fortifications, such as the Maxim Gorky naval battery.
The 420mm Gamma Morser mortar was designed and built by “Krupp” before the start of WWI as a heavyweight siege howitzer. During WWI siege howitzers were used in the capture of the fortress of Kovno. After the end of WWI all siege howitzers, except one, were dismantled. By the time of the 1942 of Sebastopol siege, the BOB 420mm mortar was deployed.
The Maxim Gorky naval battery 1942
A scene in the devastated Soviet port city of Sevastopol following its capture by the German 11th Army in July 1942.
| Nazi Germany
|On 6 June 1942:
Casualties and losses:
German casualties: 25.119 killed or missing, 92.503 wounded
Romanian casualties: 1,597 killed, 6,571 wounded, 277 missing
Soviet Union: at least 18,000 killed, 5,000 wounded, 95,000 captured (two-thirds wounded)
After many heroic battles over the 5-7th May 1944, the troops of the Soviet Army attacked the German fortifications and after an intense offensive, on the 9th of May they fully liberated Sevastopol , and on the 12th of May the remaining enemy troops laid down their arms at Cape Chersonese
Sevastopol Palace of the Pioneers damaged by enemy shells after the liberation of the city. May 1944.
Sevastopol has a special place in the Russian heart. Its importance is not just as a strategic port for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The two Great Sieges of Sevastopol left a significant mark in the Russian psyche, inspiring the creation of countless poems, films and paintings by numerous artists as well as great national pride in the heroic past.
During the Soviet era, Sevastopol became a so-called “closed city”. This meant that any non-residents had to apply to the authorities for a temporary permit to visit the city.
In 1954 then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (himself born at the border with Ukraine ) controversially “gifted” Crimea to Ukraine, in honour of the 300th anniversary of Russian-Ukrainian unity, a move that carried no political consequences until the USSR broke up several decades later. But even then, Sevastopol was separated into a special zone by Soviet authorities and ruled directly from Moscow.
After World War II, Sevastopol was entirely rebuilt. Many top architects and civil engineers from Moscow , Leningrad , Kiev and other cities, together with thousands of workers from all parts of the USSR , took part in the rebuilding process which was mostly finished by the mid-1950s. The downtown core, situated on a peninsula between two narrow inlets, South Bay and Artillery Bay, features mostly Mediterranean-style, three-story residential buildings with columned balconies and Venetian-style arches. The ground floor levels are taken up by retail and commercial spaces. Some carefully restored landmarks date back to the early part of the 20th century.
The Black Sea Fleet Museum.
It has been a long-standing tradition for the residents of surrounding suburbs to spend summer evenings by coming to the downtown area for a leisurely stroll with their families along the avenues and boulevards encircling the Central Hill, under the famous Sevastopol chestnut trees, and usually ending up on the waterfront with its famous Marine Boulevard.
Sevastopol’s spirit is warm, vibrant and youthful. Thrice born, uniquely beautiful, Sevastopol monuments are a scintillating chronicle of great feats of endurance. The memories seem kept alive by the Black Sea ’s waves, rocks of the coast, the streets and the squares. The neat young seamen are worthy heirs to the glory of their forefathers. Sevastopol boasts more than one thousand four hundred of monuments, 985 of them are historical, placed by grateful descendants at the sites of bloody battles. Others are soldiers’ burial places at times of the Crimean (Eastern) and the Great Patriotic Wars.
Due to its military history, most streets in the city are named after Russian and Soviet military heroes. There are hundreds of monuments and plaques in various parts of Sevastopol commemorating its military past.
- Chersonessos National Archeological Reserve
- Sevastopol Art Museum named after the N.P.Kroshitskiy
- Sevastopol Museum of Local History
- Aquarium-Museum of the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
- Dolphinarium of Sevastopol
- Sevastopol Zoo
- The Monument to the scuttled ships on the Marine Boulevard
- The Panorama Museum (The Heroic Defence of Sevastopol during theCrimean War)
- Malakhov Kurgan (Barrow) with its White Tower
- Admirals’ Burial Vault
- The Black Sea Fleet Museum
- The Storming of Sapun-gora of May 7, 1944, the Diorama Museum (World War II)
- Naval museum complex “Balaklava”, decommissioned underground submarine base, now opened to the public
- Cheremetieff brothers museum “Crimean war 1853-1856”
- Museum of the underground forces of 1942—1944
- Museum Historical Memorial Complex “35th Coastal Battery”
- The Naval Museum “Michael’s battery”
- Fraternal (Communal) War Cemetery (Sevastopol)