What to do in Crimea

 

If you are London based you could sign up to our social group, get Crimea travel advice and join our Crimean wine tasting events. You also could join us on the next trip to Crimea to visit all the places listed below.

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1)

Visit Stalin’s secret nuclear submarine base, in Balaсlava. That is one of the most extraordinary experiences!

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During Cold War, Balaklava Bay was one of the most secret residential areas in the Soviet Union. Almost the entire population of Balaklava town at one time worked at the base.

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The underground submarine base includes a combined underground water channel with dry dock, repair shops, warehouses for storage of torpedoes and other weapons.Additionally it could house personnel to protect them from nuclear fallout.In the central tunnel (length 602 metres) the facility could accommodate 7 subs if necessary, and in all the galleries up to 14 submarines of different classes.

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The objective was to construct first category anti-nuclear protection (protection from a direct hit by a nuclear bomb capacity of 100 kt) The base was said to be virtually indestructible and designed to survive a direct atomic impact.

We are going to spend about 40 minutes inside the underground base accompanied by an English speaking guide, we are allowed take as many pictures and videos as we like.We will spend the rest of the day in Balaclava town, the English speaking guide will take us to all of Balaklava’s historic sights.

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If the weather is good you can go on a boat trip outside Balaclava bay to the the spot where the famous HMS Prince, a British naval vessel, sank during the Crimean war in November 1854.

Being over 2500 years old Balaklava is one of the most ancient cities in the Crimea and it is now very popular for tourists.

balaclava

During the bloody Crimean War, British forces were stationed at Balaklava. In these two years, the British built a boardwalk which is still a popular place for tourists to stroll. They also opened shops, pubs, hotels, and more here. At that time, Balaklava was called ‘Little London.’ A memorial plaque, ‘Balaklava 1854,’ is in the British capital today.

Balaklava saw action during the Crimean War (1854-56). On the 25th October 1854, the Battle of Balaklava resulted in a strategic stalemate between the British, French, Ottoman and Russian forces. It also witnessed one of the most infamous events in British military history, the Charge of the Light Brigade.

 

2)

Take a jeep safari trip up into the mountains and visit the famous Dzhur-Dzhur waterfall and cave.

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crimea travel

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jeep tour crimea

Dzhur-Dzhur – These are the most powerful falls in Crimea : Their average long-term discharge of water is 270 litres a second . It does not run low even in the driest season.

Behind the village of Generalskoe , located in a beauty spot, there is an amphitheatre. Majestic mountains rise: in the northeast Karabi-Jajla, in northwest, Demerdzhi and between them a huge bridge locates the crest of mountain Tirke.

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crimea

Above the falls, along the river for approximately one kilometre,   a picturesque panorama of cascades opens, the penultimate and last of which have a height of 28 and 60 metres respectively. Nearby there is cave, Dzhur-Dzhur, which is 750 metres long.  It is surrounded by a wood in which hornbeam, beech, oak,  linden,  mountain ash and kizil grow. There is also a wood two centuries old where rocky oal and Crimean pine grow.

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The two-kilometre road from the village Generalskoe to the Dzhur-dzhur, can be also taken on foot, but it is much more adventurous to get into one of the open ex-Soviet military jeeps which race at a breakneck speed along the water-washed roads up to the valley head. This trip up to the mountains visiting the Dzhur-Dzhur cave and many beauty spots will take a whole day.

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3)

Visit the Valley of  Ghosts. The open ex-Soviet military jeeps will take you to the Valley of Ghosts with numerous collections of stone sculptures on the slopes of the Southern Demerdzhi mountain located near Alushta city.

jeep tour crimea

jeep tour crimea

The shapes of stone figures resemble human figures, animals, mysterious creatures, objects, and, depending on time of day and lighting, their images are constantly changing. In addition thick fog is common there.

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There are more than a hundred such “ghosts” in the valley. The Valley of Ghosts is a Crimean natural monument of national importance.

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These stone figures are called ghosts, being formed by the weathering of rocks on the southwest slope of  the mount, which is not far from Alushta. Demerjimountain is one of the most beautiful on the Crimean peninsula.

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From the Tatar its name translates as “blacksmith”. In ancient times, the mountain had a different name – Funa. It was located on the slopes of the castle of the same name, the remains of which have survived to the present day. Near the castle is a road to the Valley of Ghosts .

The mountain remains a mystery to scientists. During the day there are several changes to its colours, and its bizarre rock formation is reminiscent of silhouettes of running people and animals.

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4)

Visit the Inkerman Winery which still produces Stalin’s favorite wine which we are going to taste. The Inkerman Winery excursion together with the tasting will take one and a half hours.

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Winemaking has existed for so long in Crimea, it might be considered the “mother” of the world’s winemaking. Natural conditions are perfect for a viticulture of high quality grapes for all types of wine.

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About 3000 years ago the people living in Crimea started to cultivate vines for winemaking. In the 6th century BC Greek colonists appeared in Crimea, founding the Chersonesus settlement and viticulture was their main purpose.. Chersonesuse’s winemakers produced thousands litres of wine.. They used about one third of this wine themselves and exported the rest. Archeologists found a monument from the 6th century BC which said “Agasicle was honoured by the nation with this monument for planting the grapes”. It was the first monument to the Crimean winemakers. Their winepresses are still preserved in cave towns and monasteries of Crimea.

The Inkerman Winery was founded in 1961 in the cave galleries of Sevastopol area, in the small town named Inkerman. These limestone galleries were rebuilt in the 1940-s after WW II in the ruins of Sevastopol. During the next 15 years a whole city grew up under ground. Kilometres of galleries, 12 metres high and 10-12 metres wide, running to a depth of 5 to 30 metres. Here you will hear the history of the Crimean winemaking, the history of the winery, visit wine cellars, learn about the technological peculiarities in making dry fine wines, fortified and dessert wines, and have the opportunity to taste 8 samples (dry, fortified and dessert wines).

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5)

Another day trip to Ai-Petri mountain.

Ai-Petri (Greek for ‘Saint Peter’) is one of the most famous Crimean mountains. Its picturesque peaks, which fence off Yalta from the outer world, have become the symbol not just of the southern coast, but also of the entire Crimean peninsula.

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This legendary massif is attractive for tourists because from its peaks, one can get an amazing view over the whole southeastern coast of Crimea In order to see these fantastic panoramas, numerous travelers climb the Ai-Petri all year round.

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The best way to get to its 1200 metres (3937 feet) high peaks to see the unforgettable views is to use the cableway ‘Miskhor – Ai-Petri,’ which is an attraction itself. It consists of two parts, one of which is ‘unsupported’ and not like anything else in Europe.

You’ll need take the cable car to the top of the Ai-Petri mountain from the village of Mishkor to tiny Tatar village at top.

 

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Cable car ride was 3.5 kilometers or 2.17 miles long – In two legs. Once you reach the top, the views are spectacular looking down towards the Black Sea. At the top are some shops with local souvenirs and a little outdoor picnic style eating places right next to the mountain edge looking down towards the Black Sea. There are horses available for trail riding.

 

6)

Arrange a day trip to Marble cave.

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The Mramornaya Cave (literally translates as Marble Cave) is situated in the mountainous massif of Chatyr-Dag. The picturesque silhouette of this mountain is seen from very different points and distances and is considered to be a symbol of the Crimea. The Chatyr-Dag plateau is dappled with numerous karst caverns making it look like the moon. More than 160 karst caverns, pits, and wells are included in the preserved area. The most interesting of them is the Marble Cave discovered in 1987 and opened to visitors in 2001. The entrance into the cave is 920 metres above sea level. It lies in the brick of upper Jurassic limestone and consists of three parts: the Main Gallery, the Lower Gallery, and the side Tiger Pass. The dropstones separate the enormous galleries into several halls. The explored passages are 2050 metres in length and 60 metres deep. The tourist routes are over one kilometre long.

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The Marble Cave welcomes its visitors with the Gallery of Fairy Tales where they come through the man-made tunnel that is 10 metres in length. The Gallery is 20 metres wide and rich in stalactites, stalagmites, and dropstones. A well-lit way goes deep down the Cave. The tourist path passes around the fantastic stalagmite sculptures strikingly resembling fairy-tale characters in their shapes. Light brings out of the darkness the “Elephant calf”, “Mammoth”, a head of the “Owner of the Cave”, “Father Frost”, and “Frog Princess”. It is hard to believe that all these characters have been created by water drops, not by a talented sculptor. And over a period of many millions of years.

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7)

Have another jeep safari trip to the Nature reserve Soteru.

This Crimean nature reserve is situated in the valley of the river between the forests and mountains. The river Sauter is notable in that it has, in different parts of its course, three different names because of the specific nature of the terrain and the river itself. The upper stream is called Dzhurla (ibid. is a beautiful waterfall of the same name), middle – Alak (the same name as the valley), lower (most famously) – Sauter.

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jeep tour crimea

crimea travel tips

crimea travel tips

 In the valley there are many interesting natural  historical and archaeological sites such as the famous “mushroom” stones. So it was declared a natural monument complex of local importance.  The river bed forms a set of unusual and picturesque cascades and waterfalls. The name of the valley and of the river derive from the Greek word Soter – “saviour.”  On this site there once stood the medieval Christian church of Christ the Saviour.

The shape of these “stone mushrooms” was created over many years by erosion and weathering. The bottom layer was quicker to disintegrate,  the top being was stronger.  In the conservation area there are about 10 of these mushrooms. The height of the two largest is 7 metres.

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Over millions of years the river has paved rather deep gorge in the rocks (Alaka, Biuk -Dere). Under each of the slopes, forming  picturesque cascades and waterfalls, pools are formed with crystal clear, cold water. In the river you can find crab relict and fossils preserved from the glacial period.

crimea travel tips

Moving higher up the stone ledges more beautiful waterfalls and rapids are to be found. One of them is a waterfall “Geyser”. One need only look at it to understand why it has got such a name: water pours through a thin groove in a wall of stone.

The Valley River Soter is also a  paleontological monument – in the last century  mammoth bones were found here.

 

8)

Spend a day in Yalta and visiting the famous “Swallow Nest” castle.

 

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As the National Geographic magazine presented the Crimean Peninsula and the “Swallow Nest” castle as one of the best Trips 2013 you couldn’t leave Crimea without visiting the famous castle.

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The castle was built in the early twentieth century between 1911 and 1912 on a cliff that juts out over the Black Sea. The “Swallow’s Nest” castle was built to a Neo-Gothic design by the Russian architect Leonid Sherwood for the Baltic German oil millionaire Baron von Steingel.

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9)

Horseback riding in the Crimea  is a great experience, giving the advantage and pleasure of an enhanced enjoyment of these places.  Riding in the Crimea is now one of the most popular  of active outdoor recreations. Prices for horseback riding in the Crimea vary depending the duration and complexity of the route. On horseback in the Crimea prices are calculated individually, depending on  how far you want to “gallop away” from civilisation.

For those who wish to enjoy riding,  Crimea,  with its unique natural environment provides a variety of itineraries.

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10)

Visit Vorontsov palace and it’s park.

The palace was built for Count Michael Vorontsov in 1846 and it took 23 years to construct. As well as its history, the palace is very interesting from an architectural perspective.

I’ts eminent architect was Edward Blore, who also designed parts of Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace and many other important buildings in England and Scotland. Edward Blore conceived the Vorontsov Palace (another name is Alupka Palace) without ever visiting the site in Russia.

Another interesting fact -Winston Churchill and the British delegation stayed at the Vorontsov (Alupka) Palace during the Yalta Conference in 1945. He gave a farewell dinner here.

 

11)

Visit the Massandra Winery with an English spoken guided tour and wine tasting session, which will take 90 minutes.

A wine-tasting at the Massandra cellars is a must for any visitor.

 

The Massandra winery was built in the 1890’s on the Black Sea coast specifically to produce wines for the Tsar’s summer palace. Workers spent three years carving tunnels deep into Crimea’s granite mountains to provide perfect cellaring conditions for the wines.

The Massandra Collection was started in the late 19th century by the estate’s winemaker, Prince Golitzin. He bought wines from other parts of Europe along with those he made in Crimea. The collection was continued after his death when Stalin ordered that all wines found in the Tsar’s palace be stored at the Massandra cellars.

The Massandra archive retains at least one bottle of every wine the winery produces (it continues to make wine today), but limited numbers of its old wines are released for sale.

“There are 47 Massandra vintages on offer in this auction, touching upon almost the entire catalogue of what is produced at this legendary estate,” said Frank Martell, director of fine and rare wine at Heritage.

 

Prince Michael of Kent at the Massandra winery, Crimea 2012. Prince Michael of Kent GCVO is a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, being a grandson of King George V and Queen Mary.

 

Included in the sale was a 1901 Tokay Ai Danil, which is estimated to fetch more than $1,200, and a 1905 Muscat Rosé. They are among the last remaining bottles that were actually produced for the Tsar and his family.

The other lots include a six-bottle case of 1923 White Muscat and a six-bottle case of 1954 White Muscat.

In 2001, Sotheby’s auctioned a bottle of sherry dating back to 1775 from the Massandra Collection, bearing an imperial seal. It sold for $43,500.

 

12)

Go to the Medieval Cave town Kachi Kaleon.

This trip will take a whole day, so better to bring  a picnic with you for a break at the sight.

Kachi Kaleon – a Greek cliff city with several cave churches.

Researchers are not unanimous as to the probable approximate date of the town’s founding. Some consider it to be a Byzantine fortress founded in the 6th century whilst others are of the opinion that the fortified settlement appeared in the 10th-11th centuries. During the early period of the town’s history, it was mainly populated by Alans, the most powerful of a late Sarmatian tribe of Iranian descent. They began penetrating the Crimea from the 2nd century AD. Settling down in the mountainous Crimea , the Alans adopted Christianity. In written sources the cave town is mentioned in the 13th century under the name of Kyrk-Or (Forty Fortifications).

13)

Visit the Livadia palace and park.

The palace is a little over 100 years old and was built as a Summer residence for the last Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family.

Romanovs loved the place and spent at least two and a half months every year in the Livadia palace.

Walk where the Tsars and their families walked, see where the meeting between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill took place where they discussed the fate of Europe after the end of WWII.

One of the exhibitions in the palace is devoted to the Yalta Conference which was held here in 1945. During the Yalta Conference the palace housed Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other members of the American delegation. American’s president was so taken by the palace’s beauty and grandeur that he asked Joseph Stalin if he could buy it to buy it, but of course the Soviet leader refused. Important international meetings still take place in the Livadia Palace.

14)

On the way back to Yalta you can visit Anton Chekhov’s house.

Anton Chekhov’s The White Dacha, is the house that built in Yalta and in which he wrote some of his greatest work. It is now a museum.

The White Dacha was built in 1898 following Chekhov’s success with The Seagull.

From the study you will be able to see the seafront that inspired “The Lady with the Dog”, and out the back the scene that inspired the setting of The Cherry Orchard is visible. He also wrote the Three Sisters and The Bishop here.

 

15)

Visit the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory.

The creation of this Crimean observatory was organised by an amateur astronomer and later Honoured Member of the Academy of Science, M. Maltsov. In 1900 he built a tower for a refractor at his own plot near the town of Simeiz. In 1906 – the tower appeared with a dome for the Zeiss double astrograph. Both towers are preserved and still being used. The Simeiz observatory is situated 360m above sea level at the southern end of the range of Crimean peaks, at Koshka mountain. The main building was restored after the Second World War on the site of the old building in a modernised style with balconies decorated by columns.

It has been publishing the Bulletin of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory since 1947, in English since 1977.

During the excursion to the Crimean Laser Observatory ‘Blue Bay’ you will be able to see different installations of gigantic sizes, you will watch the sky of stars, the nebulae, the far planets, and you will see the Moon. At the end of the trip you will see pictures of significant discoveries made there. Not many people know that it is here where the first picture of the back side of the Moon was made. Saturn’s rings have been researched here. The stars cloud of ‘Berenice’s Hair’ was studied here. In 1930th a powerful photoheliograph was installed, which helped to obtain pictures of the sun, after which the Crimean Observatory became a member of the international programme ‘Sun Service’. In 1947 the observatory scientists took the first picture of the centre of the galaxy.

 

16)

Visit the sights of the famous battles of The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) . Stand where the Thin Red Line stood and see where the ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ took place. You will experience the peaceful Balaclava Valley and Harbour, climb the Heights of Alma and go on  the tour to the Bastions of Sevastopol.

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The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. Most of the conflict took place on the Crimean peninsula.

Crimean War Battle of Inkerman,  5 November 1854.

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17)

Visit Feodosia and it’s ancient ruins of the trading settlement called Caffa (or Kaffa) as well as other numerous monuments from the Middle Ages.

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The city was founded as Theodosia(Θεοδοσία) by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC. Noted for its rich agricultural lands, on which its trade depended, it was destroyed by the Huns in the 4th century AD.

Theodosia remained a minor village for much of the next nine hundred years. It was at times part of the sphere of influence of the Khazars (excavations have revealed Khazar artifacts dating back to the 9th century) and of the Byzantine Empire.

Like the rest of Crimea, this village fell under the domination of the Kipchaks and was conquered by the Mongols in the 1230’s.

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In Feodosia you also could visit the museum with works of Aivazovsky  ( 29 July 1817 – 2 May 1900) was a Russian Romantic painter. He is considered one of the greatest marine artists in history. Baptized as Hovhannes Aivazian, Aivazovsky was born into an Armenian family in the Black Sea port of Feodosia and was mostly based in his native Crimea. 

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Aivazovsky Battle_of_Çesme_at_Night

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18)

Visit Sudak.

Sudak is located in a picturesque bay and is one of the most beautiful places in eastern Crimea. It is believed that the city was founded in 212 AD by Alani settlers on the territory of the Bosporan Kingdom. Merchants from the Roman Empire founded Sougdaea, in Greek Σουγδαία (a reference to Sogdia) in the 3rd century.

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In the 6th century, the Roman Emperor Justinian I ordered the construction of a fortress. The Khazars attacked in the 7th century, giving it the name Suğdaq. The Life of St. Stefan of Surozh describes the 8th-century town as dependent on the Byzantine Empire. Around the start of the 9th century, it was supposedly attacked by the Rus Chieftain, Bravlin. It is thought that the Khazars retained the town from the early 800s until 1016, when the Byzantines finally defeated the Khazar warlord Georgeios Tsulo. Afterwards, the town seems to have preserved some sort of autonomy within the Byzantine Empire.

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19)

Visit Bakhchisaray – visit the former Tatar capital in Crimea.Visit the Khan Palace with the famous Fountain of Tears, which Alexander Pushkin dedicated a poem to. then pay a visit to the Assumption Cave Monastery.

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Bakhchisaray, or “city in the garden” (from Tatar) is located in a narrow river valley. It is an historical site, an ancient of civilisation.  Artefacts found here indicate a human presence dating from the Mesolithic period – between 18000 and 2000 BC.

Perhaps one of the oldest places to visit in Bakhchisaray is Mangup Kale – an historic fortress in the Crimea. In medieval times it was known as Doros. Later it was given the Kipchak name Mangup.

The settlement dates back to the 3rd century AD and was fortified by Justinian I in the mid- 6th century. It was inhabited and governed primarily by Crimean Goths, and became the centre of their autonomous principality, the Metropolis of Doros during the 5th and 7th centuries. It was conquered by the Khazars in the early 8th century, and later in the 8th century was the centre of an unsuccessful Gothic revolt against Khazaria led by Bishop John of Gothia.

 

20)

Visit Taigan Safari Park. Visitors and locals now have the opportunity here to see firsthand what was they once had to travel to Africa to witness; Lions in the savannah.

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Animals look happy and often they just walk around you. You can even feed them with the food sold at place. The territory is vast which makes Taigan a nice place to walk around especially with kids. Definitely  worth seeing! Enormous, huge territory with a hotel, souveniur shops etc. The entrance fee is around 20 usd and it’s totally worth it.

 

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The place is called Park of Lions in Belogorsk, though actually there is quite a variety of other animals and excotic birds as well. They also have tiger, lamas, a camel, bears of several kinds, plenty of various birds, couple of giraffes and much more.

Oleg Zubkov, an entrepreneur with a military background, has turned an Ex-Soviet military base into safari park – one of the best  tourist attractions; an African savannah on the Crimean Peninsula, a unique attraction in Eastern Europe. 

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To be continued…..

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