Well we were out walking by the water today and as usual the "harbor excursion" operators were doing their best to convince my wife and I to join one of the perpetually departing tours, so I thought I would gather some info to share here with you.
I talked to one of the many tour operators, a guy named Valeri, now I can't vouch for him, but he was a real person quoting me his standard tourist price. For 50 Grivna per person you get a 30 minute tour of the "South Bay" - the arm of the harbor where a good amount of military ships are docked and then a quick swing past several of the harbor side monuments. Of course this price isn't for a private tour, you will probably be with a number of people you don't know, unless you have a group of 8 or 10 people and most likely NO English commentary, though I'm sure you could find a bilingual guide if you asked the people with the bullhorns.
I went on one of these tours just over a year ago (during the fall & before prices inflated) and its a great photo op and the easiest way to get up next to some of the navy ships (& the two working submarines!) that make Sevastopol what it is and get to take in a different perspective of the harbor front than usual and personally I always like to be out on the water.
From my past experience I recall that you can bargain the price with these tour guys just depending on how business is going for them at the moment. From the looks of all the excursion boats tied up along the waterfront today, it looked like there is going to be more supply than demand this season.
- Sailing and Boating
- Historical Travel
Daytrip to Bakhchysaray
My favorite day of the three we spent near Sevastopol was the day we took the bus to Bakhchysaray and visited the Khan's Palace and Chufut-Kale, one of the many cave cities in this region of the Crimean Peninsula.
The trip by bus took about an hour from Sevastopol's bus station, you can easily visit the Khan's Palace, Chufut-Kale and Uspensky Monastery on a day visit without a guided trip, it sounded like a lot for a day when I was reading up on it but it all easily fit into a day.
Sevastopol is a city with a long military history, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet. It was a city closed to the general public until 1997, but the city still has military attachments, we saw young men dressed in their smart uniforms marching and walking about town. Understandably military monuments are a big part of the scenery in Sevastopol, here are a few that we found:
Picture 1 Monument to Admiral P. S. Nakhimov, the commander of naval and land forces during the Siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War.
Picture 2 1696 was the year the Russian battleships arrived in Sevastopol so I assume this is a monument commemorating this
Picture 3 Obelisk, built to honor the defense of Sevastopol during WWII , located on Cape Khrustalny
Picture 4 Monument to Scuttled Ships, commemorates the Russian ships intentionally scuttled in the harbor in 1854 during the Siege of Sevastopol that made it impossible for enemy ships to pass
Picture 5 I haven't figured this one out yet but I thought it was pretty cool
All around us there were women yelling into bullhorns, trying to get visitors to try their boat trip. We didn't understand a word they were saying and thought "we are safe from their clutches" until a woman who did speak *just* enough English came by and asked if we'd like to go on her boat. She said the cost was 50 euro and we both looked at each other and then she laughed and said of course I mean 50 hrvina and promised a 1/2 hour tour of the military ships in the harbor. That got my husband all excited so we agreed and she led us to the boat and said she had to find some more people but would be back soon. After waiting about 20 minutes, we were discussing leaving when she came back, without any other people, and tried to raise the price. We shook our heads and said "thanks but no thanks", of course, they agreed to do it for the original price and off we went.
The captain spoke a bit of English and pointed out the Ukrainian ships in one part of the harbor and the Russian ships in the other part, when Ukraine became independent of Russia, there was agreement that Russia's Black Sea Fleet could still use the port, but the agreement expires in 2017 (according to Lonely Planet) so it may be in years to come that only the Ukrainian Navy will be located here.
While my hubby was busy snapping photos of the various naval ships, I concentrated on trying to stay warm as it was a bit chilly that day and it got even chillier on the water and even chillier still as the wind picked up and the waves picked up and the spray started hitting me and I realized that all the blankets on board were wet!
Our 1st stop in Sevastopol was the Panorama, a 360 degree painting and 3D model recreating the Battle of Sevastopol on June 6, 1855. The Battle was part of the Siege of Sevastopol by British, French and Turkish troops which lasted 349 days from September,13 1854-August,27 1855. You start overlooking the battlefield atop Malakov Mound (it's actually a concrete riser but you can use your imagination) alongside the Russian forces fighting the French and the British, unless you are with your own tour guide, you will have to wait until you descend to the next level where sections of the Panorama are explained in both Ukrainian and English. One of the sections points out Pasha Sevastopolskaya, the Urkainian Florence Nightingale, my Bradt guidebook says that Leo Tolstoy is in there somewhere as well.
My guidebook said tours left at a particular time but we walked right in. Purchase tickets at the Kasse outside, 30 UAH ($4USD) entrance fee without a guide. If you want to take photos or video, it's an additional 15UAH payable when you get to the top, don't even think about trying to sneak a shot, the Soviet era matron will be watching you like a hawk!
As we entered the boardwalk area where all the restaurants are in Balaklava, we saw a couple of women, yelling in Ukrainian through bullhorns and wondered what the heck they were doing. Was it some kind of political protest? Trying to get people signed up to vote? No, of course not, they were trying to recruit people to go on boat trips. It was still a bit early in the season and not that many tourists, so there were a lot more boats than there were people to go on them.
We opted not to do this but once we had climbed up the side of the mountain for a view of the Black Sea, we saw where a lot of them went, out of the cove and just a short distance into the sea where they all seemed to stop and bob around. I assume that you can negotiate a shorter or longer trip, a trip to one of the nearby beaches or even a trip to other places in the Crimea.
Balaklava-Genoese Fortress and hiking trails
The ruins of three 15th century towers from the Genoese Fortress of Cembalo can still be seen leading up to the top of the hill just past the restaurant and tourist shops. The uppermost tower is under scaffolding, one of my guidebooks said there was a plan to reconstruct the entire fortress. Cembalo was the name of the city until 1475 when the Turks renamed it Balaklava or "fish's nest".
There are multiple trails that lead up this hill, you can climb up past the three towers on a VERY steep hillside or keep going on the trail past the towers and take a lower path for a view of the Black Sea or take a higher path for an even more impressive view of the Black Sea and see where all of those boats they are trying to get you to go on actually go. It's lovely at sunset when the suns washes over the nearby hills.
Unless you are Ukrainian, you will want to wear sensible shoes, the paths are steep, slippery and rocky. However, if you are an Ukrainian woman that can't balance without stilletto heels, feel free to wear those. You might think I'm joking but in the course of our 5 days in Crimea, I saw women wearing heels to climb the hills in Balaklava, the hill leading up to the cave city near Bakhchysaray, up multiple flights of stairs. I was impressed, even more so when they were smoking, drinking, and carrying on a conversation on a cell phone while balancing on those things.
Military buffs, like my husband, will likely find the Naval Museum more interesting than I did. You must visit on a guided tour, the guidebook said they were every hour but I think at least in tourist season they may go every 1/2 hour, the cost was 25 UAH ($3.50 USD) for adults. The tour was entirely in Ukrainian, I didn't see any option for an English language tour, a few of the signs were in English.
The Naval Museum is housed in the former Soviet secret nuclear submarine factory which was located in an underwater caves inside the hills, it was built between 1957-1961 at the beginning of the cold war. The guided tour takes you through the long passages that were used for repairing submarines and to store nuclear missiles. The thick nuclear blast proof doors could have protected some 3,000 people and had enough food and oxygen for them for 30 days if called upon to be used as a nuclear shelter.
There are some interesting buildings in this city. Unfortunately, I don't really know what is on photo 1 but maybe a theatre or opera.
Thanks to new member Ola_S who wrote this comment on 16.03.2009, we now know this:
This building is officially called "The palace of childhood and youth", and it's a place where a lot of courses, study and hobby groups for children are located. There is also a professional Dance Theatre in the building.
The Pokrovsky Cathedral
It is constructed in 1905 under the project of architect Feldman. It has strongly suffered during the Great Domestic war. It has been partially restored and up to 1962 divine services were spent there. A sport hall and a city archive were placed then in the cathedral. In 1992 the northern part of the cathedral has been transferred to believers and consecrated in the name of sacred great martyr Pantelejmon. In the beginning of 1994 it had been entirely given to orthodox church.
The Top temple has the name of the Cover of the Virgin. The temple in the name of sacred martyresses of Vera, Nadeghda, Ljubov' and their mother Sofia is located in the bottom part of the Cathedral. Till now restoration works are proceeding, the southern part of the temple is restored.
Another well-known church of Sevastopol’ - Petropavlovskaya (St. Peter and Paul) Church, consecrated in 1843 designed by a lieutenant-engineer of the marine construction unit V.A. Rulev.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
St. Vladimir Cathedral
The St Vladimir Cathedral (Vladimirsky Sobor) is situated on the Central city hill. It was started to build in 1854. During the war of 1854-55 all works were stopped and continued only in 1858.
The Bottom church was consecrated in the name of sacred Nikolay in 1881. The Top church was consecrated in the name of sacred prince Vladimir in 1888. The Cathedral was constructed in the Byzantian style under the project of the professor of architecture Thonn. The original project has been modified and changed by academician Avdeev. Frescos were executed by the academician of painting Korneyev. An ornamental list of the arch and piers was created by Rafael Izelli, marble columns were made in Italy by Bonnani.
The Cathedral is the burial place of the renowned Russian Admirals Lasarev, Kornilov, Istomin and Nakhimov. It's a place of piligrimage all those who is proud of Russian fleet.
- Religious Travel
- Historical Travel
Admiral Kornilov Monument
During the Crimean War period the defence of Sevastopol was organized by Commander-in-chief of the fleet Kornilov. On the place where he had been deadly wounded, on the Malakhov barrow a memorial was erected by the sculptor Shreder in accordance with a Bilderling's project in 1895.
Another monument in honor of Admiral Kornilov is established at Artillerijskaya bay. The quay carries the name of the hero of Sevastopol defence.
- Historical Travel
Admiral Nakhimov Monument
This monument is located in the city centre, near Grafskaya Quay on the square carrying the name of the admiral Nakhimov (1802 - 1855). He was the outstanding Russian naval commander, participant Navarin's and Sinop's battles, one of the chiefs of the first defense of Sevastopol.
The first monument to Nakhimov was build in 1898 to the anniversary of Sinop battle. In 1928, carrying out decree of Soviet authority "About removal of monuments to kings and their servants", the monument was demolished. A monument to Lenin was established on its socle in 1932. A new monument to Nakhimov was held in 1959.
On a face sheet of pedestal - the bronze banner, is lower the text of the order about enemy's attack. On the back party - text: "Glory to Russian fleet" in a frame of military attributes. Above and laurel wreath an inscription about a fatal wound of the admiral on June 28, 1855 on Malakhov Mound.
In the bottom part of pedestal the multifigured reliefs are located, which plots reproduce episodes from battle life Nakhimov: "Sinop battle", "On Forth Bastion" and "Nakhimov conversation with sailors".
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
The Grafskaja Quay is in the center of the city, on the southern part of the Sevastopol Bay. It represents a wharf or reinforced bank where ships are loaded and unloaded.
In June 1783, it was created from masonry stones. In 1787 with the arrival the Russian Empress Ekaterina II, the quay was equipped with modern amenities and got the official name of Ekaterininskaia. Columns where erected with white marble engraved memorials. Two lions are keeping calmness of the city.
The quay forms a beautiful greeting to the city and is a major architectural structure of the central part.
- Historical Travel
Scuttled Russian ships Monument
During the Crimean War and the first defense of Sevastopol two rows between the Konstantinovskaya and Alexandrovskaya batteries and later between the Mikhailovskaya and Nikolayevskaya batteries were filled in the course of defense with 15 scuttled naval ships of the Black Sea Fleet. They should bar the entrance to the harbor for the naval ships of England, France and Turkey. After removing guns from the ships, the crews took part in defending Sevastopol at the bastions.
The Monument consists of the artificial granite cliff made up of rough boulders standing on a square base. A hexahedral pedestal rises from the cliff and it is crowned with a Corinthian column of light-colored diorite. There is a bronze sculpture of the two-headed eagle with widespread wings facing the sea on top of it, which holds in its beak the laurel wreath of glory and the naval anchor. Lower on the cliff, the bronze mast of the sailing- ship is attached. On the side of the pedestal facing the seafront there is a memorial plaque with the relief map of the Sevastopol harbor and marked areas where the ships were scuttled. The total height of the Memorial is about 17 m.
The Monument to the scuttled ships of the Black Sea Fleet is located in the Sevastopol Bay, 10 meters away from the seafront of the Seaside Boulevard. It was built in 1905 on the fiftieth anniversary of the first heroic defense of Sevastopol after the design of sculptor Adamson, architect Feldman with the participation of the military engineer colonel Enberg.
The Scuttled Russian ships Monument has become a symbol of Sevastopol and a place of pilgrimage.
- Historical Travel