5 reasons to visit the Hero City of Sevastopol

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Crimea’s Sevastopol is one of the three Russian Hero Cities of the Great Patriotic War visited by the delegates of the “New Generation”, along with Moscow and St. Petersburg. Here, one can not only find ancient monuments, heroic battlegrounds, incredible natural landscapes, but also feel the unique atmosphere of this place breathing history. This Hero City on the Black Sea witnessed one of the most dramatic moments of the Great Patriotic War and has been known in recent years as a venue for the main Russian Navy parade.

Touch the ancient history

In the Gagarinsky district of Sevastopol, one can find the ruins of Chersonesos Taurica, a city founded in the V century BC by the ancient Greeks. Chersonesos was one of the oldest Greek cities in the Northern Black Sea region and was also among those that lived the longest - urban life here lasted for almost 2,000 years, up until the 14th century! 

The excavation works in the area began in the 19th century. The unique finds discovered here can now be seen in the Hermitage, the State Historical Museum and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, but only in Sevastopol one can walk the streets of the most ancient Chersonesos and visit the only Greek amphitheatre found in Russia. 

Yet, it's not the only ancient monument in this part of the peninsula. The medieval fortress cities of Eski-Kermen and Mangup-Kale are located nearby and preserve the remains of an even older civilization of the Tauri that gave Crimea its original name - Tavrida. There is also a Genoese fortress of Cembalo in the vicinity and the list goes on and on. There are many more ancient monuments in the area but it’s not only them that make the atmosphere of Sevastopol so unique.

Travel through the ages

Taking a walk around the center of Sevastopol is like traveling back in time. Here, ancient Greek architecture gets replaced by Turkish buildings, because the city was part of the Ottoman Empire in the 15-18th centuries. In 1783, thanks to the efforts of Prince Grigory Potemkin, Crimea was incorporated to Russia and Sevastopol received its present name, which means the “Imperial city.”

In 1804, it became the main Russian military port on the Black Sea, and almost all of its residents served in the Navy. Unfortunately, many of Sevastopol’s historical buildings were lost during the Crimean War, World War I, and then the Great Patriotic War, when the city survived the worst bombing. Later on, the city was rebuilt in Stalinist Empire style which, in turn, has now become history.

Learn about the heroes who defended Sevastopol 

During the Crimean War (1853-1856), Sevastopol heroically resisted the attack of the land and naval forces of England and France. Held by the garrison that initially had only 7,000 people, the defense lasted 349 days (1854-1855). Despite the fact that the city was eventually surrendered to the superior forces of the enemy, this defense was an unprecedented feat of sacrifice and engineering thought. Russian great author Leo Tolstoy was one of the participants of this defense and told about it in his "Sevastopol Sketches." 

The second defense of Sevastopol took place in 1941-1942 and was an important stage in the struggle for Crimea and southern Russia in the Great Patriotic War. The defenders of the city resisted the monstrous onslaught of the Wehrmacht's troops fiercely and fearlessly. More than 200,000 Soviet soldiers died here, and despite the loss of the city, the second defense was another great feat of the Soviet people - the residents and defenders of the port sacrificed themselves to save the Black Sea Fleet and delay the Nazi offensive on the southern borders of the country. Many history-lovers come to Sevastopol to see the famous battlefields and visit museums dedicated to the legendary battles.

Visit the unique Museum of Underwater Fleet

The Naval Museum Complex Balaklava used to be a top-secret military facility during the Cold War, built to withstand a nuclear explosion. In the end of 1950s, the Soviets built a secret factory inside a huge rock in Balaklava Bay to repair submarines of the Black Sea Fleet. This facility could withstand a nuclear attack and even the locals didn’t know about it - submarines entered the rock only at night, and during the day the entrance gate was hidden by a huge camouflage net.

Today this unique complex is fully declassified and available to the public. Here, one can see the former workshops of the plant, its armory, the models of submarines, real torpedoes and bombs. Some parts of the exhibition are dedicated to the first defense of Sevastopol and the history of the Cold War. The former factory even "starred" in the American film, "Soldiers of Fortune" (2012).

Enjoy the incredible scenery

It’s no coincidence that ancient Taurians and Greeks chose to build their settlements in this part of the peninsula. Stunning views, steep but safe mountain trails, nature reserves at Cape Aya and Cape Fiolent - as they say, it’s “better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”, because the nature of Sevastopol and its surroundings leaves a truly magical impression.

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