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Palaces and fortresses of Crimea

Palaces and fortresses of Crimea are the most famous architectural landmarks on the peninsula. In the online travel guide Geomerid you can read about the most interesting palaces and fortresses of the Crimea:

1.    Vorontsov Palace
2.    Livadia Palace
3.    Swallow's Nest Castle
4.    Massandra Palace
5.    Khan 's Palace
6.    Genoese Fortress
7.    Chembalo Fortress
8.    Kafa Fortress
9.    Yenikale Fortress
10.    Mangup-Kale

Vorontsov Palace (Alupka)

Vorontsov Palace in Alupka is called one of the most beautiful palaces of the Crimea. Perhaps it can even be called The Most beautiful palace of the Crimea. It combines elements of English Gothic and Moorish style. There is a magnificent Vorontsov Park around the palace, which complements the beauty of the palace. 

Governor-General of Novorossiya Mikhail Vorontsov began the construction of his palace in the Crimea in 1824. In those years, the Russian nobles knew about the beauty of the Southern coast of Crimea, but infrastructure for recreation and travel did not yet exist. Vorontsov Palace became the first aristocratic palace on the Southern Coast of Crimea. After him, other palaces and villas began to be built outside of Yalta. Among them is the royal Livadia Palace, where the royal family has been coming every autumn since 1866.  

Count Vorontsov was a passionate admirer of all things English, so the Vorontsov Palace was built in the style of gothic medieval castle, and the interiors of the rooms are made in the traditional English style. He commissioned the design of the palace to the English architect Edward Blore, who had never been to the Crimea, but received a detailed description of the terrain. He prepared a project of a 15th-century Tudor castle with elements of the Moorish style. The palace perfectly fits into the surrounding landscape.

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Livadia Palace (Yalta)

Livadia Palace in the vicinity of Yalta is one of the most famous palaces of the Crimea. It belonged to Emperor Alexander II, who came here with his family every autumn. Nicholas II also liked to relax here, who built a magnificent Italian-style palazzo made of white Inkerman stone on the site of the old palace. 

The construction of the new palace from the idea of Nicholas II to the housewarming party took only 16 months. In 1911, the royal family was already vacationing in the Crimea in the spacious new Livadia Palace. It had 58 halls and rooms for the royal family and entourage. The highlight of the palace is a cozy Italian courtyard. Livadia Palace became the official southern residence of the royal family. In St. Petersburg, their residence was the Alexander Palace in Tsarskoye Selo. 

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Swallow's Nest Castle (Yalta)

A small Gothic Castle Swallow`s Nest is located on the edge of a 40-meter sheer cliff on Cape Ai-Tudor. It is located in the village of Gaspra, which is one of the districts of Yalta. The romantic appearance of the castle and the beauty of the place where it is located made the Swallow`s Nest the main symbol of the Crimea. 

The first villa on the edge of the Aurora Cliff was erected in 1888 by the famous doctor from Yalta Adalbert Tobin and his wife Elizabeth von Steingel. At first, the villa was called Generalife. The picturesque place attracted the attention of vacationers. They called this villa "The Castle of Love", and later the name Swallow`s Nest appeared.  

The first version of the house was not like the romantic castle that we see now. Then there was a two-room house with a small tower on the edge. In 1911, Tobin`s widow sold the villa to a wealthy Moscow businessman Sergei Rakhmanov. He decided to build a fairy-tale castle that would attract everyone`s attention. The project of a small Gothic castle Swallow`s Nest was prepared by architect Vladimir Sherwood. 

The architect had a difficult task: to build a castle with a tower on the very edge of the cliff, on a foundation of 10x20 meters. He coped with this task perfectly. So, there appeared a small Gothic castle Swallow`s Nest.

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Massandra Palace (Yalta)

Massandra Palace is one of the most famous attractions of Yalta. It is located on a high mountain slope, 3 kilometers from the Black Sea coast. Unlike the palaces on the seashore, the Massandra Palace was used only as a hunting lodge, since it is located near the border of the Yalta Nature Reserve. The construction of the Massandra Palace began in 1879, by order of Semyon Vorontsov, the son of the governor of Novorossiya Mikhail Vorontsov.

The location of the Massandra Palace is bordered by the amphitheater of the Crimean Mountains. Count Vorontsov entrusted the preparation of the project to the French architect Etienne Bouchard, who proposed to build a palace in the style of the French Renaissance. Castles in the Loire River Valley were taken as a model. 

In 1881, the palace was almost built, but in 1882, the architect died first, and a few months later, Semyon Vorontsov also died. The construction of the Massandra Palace was stopped for 10 years. In 1889, the unfinished palace was bought by Emperor Alexander III. After his death, the palace was owned by Nicholas II.  

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Khan 's Palace (Bakhchisarai)

Khan Palace of Bakhchisarai is located in the valley of the Churuk-Su River. After the spread of the Crimean Khanate`s authority over the entire Crimea, the khans decided to build their capital in a narrow mountain gorge in the central part of the peninsula. They called it Bakhchisarai, which means "Garden City".  

The territory of the palace complex reaches 4 hectares. Houses of ordinary residents were built simultaneously with the Khan`s Palace. Khan`s Palace in Bakhchisarai is one of the most interesting sights of the Crimea. This is the only palace complex in the Crimea of the Middle Ages, built in the traditional Ottoman style. The architecture of the palace in Bakhchisarai is similar to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which was also built at that time. 

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Genoese Fortress (Sudak)

The Genoese fortress is one of the most interesting historical sights of the Crimea. It towers over the resort town of Sudak and is visible from almost all the central districts of the city. The Genoese fortress has been preserved to this day in very good condition. It is visited daily by thousands of tourists even from other resorts of the Crimean coast. 

The fortress was built by Italians from Genoa in the period from 1371 to 1414. It was the main military base of the Genoese in the Crimea, and the capital of their colony was Kafa (modern Feodosia). The territory of the Genoese fortress reaches almost 30 hectares and has a double line of defense. The total length of the fortified walls of the Genoese fortress is 800 meters.  

A fortress wall with 14 towers has been erected in the lower line of defense. The upper level of defense is located on the edge of the reef mountain. The fortress wall is more powerful here. On the eastern side, the Consular Castle rises above the cliff, which looks like a small tower. In the middle of the wall is the tallest and most powerful Main Tower of the Consular Castle.

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Chembalo Fortress (Balaklava)

The Chembalo Fortress is the main historical attraction of the Balaklava resort. It is located on the top of the Fortress Mountain, above the entrance to a narrow bay. This fortress was built by the Genoese to protect their colonies on the western coast of Crimea. Only four towers of the Chembalo fortress have survived to this day. 

In the Middle Ages, the fortress was divided into two parts. At the top of the Fortress Mountain was the Castle of St. Nicholas. At its foot on the edge of the cape, at the entrance to Balaklava Bay, was the Castle of St. George. The fortress of Chembalo made Balaklava impregnable to attack from the sea.

Ruins of fortifications and walls have been preserved around the Donjon of the Chembalo fortress, but they are all in very poor condition. If you go down the cliff to the open sea, you will see fragments of the towers of the Castle of St. George. Unlike the Genoese fortress in Sudak, Chembalo was severely damaged during the defense of Sevastopol in 1942.

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Kafa Fortress (Feodosia)

The Genoese fortress of Kafa was the capital of their colonies in the Crimea. It had two rings of fortified walls. The Citadel (inner ring) was built in 1340-1343. The huge outer wall was built in 1389. To this day, two towers have been preserved from the Citadel, and only the Tower of St. Constantine has been preserved from the outer wall with 30 towers. 

The Genoese fortress of Kafa was of huge size. The trade turnover of the Genoese colonies in the Black Sea exceeded the turnover of their eternal competitors, merchants from Venice. In the 15th century, Kafa became one of the largest cities in Europe. In terms of territory and population, Kafa was larger than Constantinople.  

Feodosia has been an important commercial port in the Crimea for several centuries. Since the port is located in the very center of the city, in the 19th century the city authorities decided to demolish all the walls and towers of the Kafa Fortress in order to expand its infrastructure. To this day, only two towers have survived from this huge fortress to the east of the city center: the St. Clement`s Tower and the Crisco Tower, as well as the fortress walls next to them.

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Mangup-Kale (Bakhchisarai)

Mangup-Kale is the most famous cave settlement in the vicinity of Bakhchisarai. In the early Middle Ages, more than 15 cave settlements appeared in these places, however, Mangup-Kale was the largest of them. In the 14th century, it became the capital of the Byzantine principality of Feodoro. 

At first, Mangup-Kale occupied only a small part of the mountain plateau of the mountain. Baba-dag Mountain has 4 teeth that protrude from the plateau in different directions. The tooth of the Teshkli-Burun protrudes to the northeast. It has the best natural protection, so the oldest part of the Mangup-Kale settlement is located here. In total, about 60 caves have been preserved in Mangup-Kale, and most of them are located on the Teshkli-Burun prong. 

At the base of this prong, the Byzantines built a powerful fortress wall to protect the entrance to the prong from the plateau. The ruins of the wall have survived to this day. It is a symbol of Mangup-Kale. The construction of the fortress wall most likely dates back to the 7th-8th century. Patterns typical of the Byzantine architectural style have been preserved on the entrance gate of the wall.  

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Yenikale (Kerch)

The Yenikale Fortress is located in the narrowest part of the Kerch Strait and allows you to fully control the passage of ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The fortress was of great strategic importance, which the garrison of the fortress never took advantage of. The fortress has never participated in combat operations. the Turks immediately realized the threat from Russia and in 1699 began the construction of the Yenikale fortress. Translated from Turkic, it means "New fortress". Old fortresses have been located in this place since ancient times. In 1705, the construction of the powerful fortifications of the Yenikale fortress was completed.

The Yenikale Fortress has an area of 2 hectares and is located on different levels. Given the difficult mountainous terrain of this area, the fortress is built in the form of an irregular pentagon. Artillery was placed on the edges of the bastions. On the shore of the Kerch Strait there is the Southern Gate, which has become a symbol of the Yenikale fortress.  

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