Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Day 4 Simferopol – Sevastopol 50 km
Attention, long day coming, many pictures
The city of is Bakhchisaray located in a canyon between Simferopol and Sevastopol, and among the interesting sites to see are the Crimean Tatar Khan's palace, the cave city and the Armenian monastery that is built in a cave. This was once the capital of the Crimean Tatar Khanate.
Next morning we had a tasty breakfast at the Meraba Hotel after which we decided to see the Khan Palace. The Khan's palace was the seat of the Tatar rulers of Crimea dating back to 1443. With the Ottoman conquest of Crimea in 1475 the Khan's became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire but the khans were left as rulers. After the Crimean War with the victory of Russia all of the Khan's were made Russian nobility but the capital of Crimea was moved to Simferopol.
It is said that when she was busy ordering the mass destruction of Bakhchysaray’s mosques in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Catherine the Great spared the Khan Palace. Her decision was reportedly based on the building being ‘romantic’. Today it remains a major landmark of Crimean culture and history. Points of interest include the inner palace, the Kahn's cemetery, the Falcon Tower, the Crimean Tatar museum and a small art gallery. The entrance fee is around 50 Grivnas / person.
After visiting the Palace we packed our bag and ride to see the Uspensky Monastery in the rock and Chufut-Kale. To get there we continued on the road from Bakhchysaray east. We arrived at a huge parking place packed with people, cars and buses.
Not being sure if we had to stop there or we can go closer by bike, we asked some of the guys standing around there, which happened to speak good English. He said the we can go closer to the monastery but there we must pay the parking or we can let the bike at a nearby restaurant where parking is free. We decided to leave the bike to the restaurant. To my surprise the guy made some gestures to a kid with a small scooter and he guide us to the inside parking of the restaurant. They were very well organized.
For the monastery one must take the small road to the left and after a few hundred meter (uphill) we arrived at the monastery.
The Uspensky Monastery in the rock is an old and beautiful Orthodox Monastery founded around the 8th century. A holy spring flows inside and the water is potable. Part of the small Uspensky Monastery is the Gold-Domed Church which has been built into the limestone rock of the surrounding hill, probably by Byzantine monks in the 8th or 9th century. Of course, the Soviets closed the place down, but it's been operating again since 1993.
Even if the joint entrance to the Uspensky Monastery and Chufut-Kale is bit touristy, the 2km walk to the cave city make it sure that it is not too crowded. We left our riding gear at the restaurant with the bike, a rider in full gear would sweat a lot all the way up.
Chufut-Kale is a cliff city last inhabited by Kararite Jews, rising 200m is a lang plateau on a hill, full with caves and structures carved in stone where people took refuge for centuries. There are 1000 year old Jewish and Muslim cemeteries in the area.
First appearing in historical records as Kyrk-Or (Forty Fortifications), the city was settled sometime between the 6th and 12th centuries by Christianized descendants of Sarmatian tribes. The last powerful ruler of the Golden Horde, Tokhtamysh, sheltered here after defeat in the 1390s, and the first Crimean Khanate was established at Chufut-Kale in the 15th century, before moving to nearby Bakhchysaray. After the Tatars left, Turkic-Jewish Karaites occupied the city until the mid-19th century, which won the mountain its current name of 'Jewish Fortress'.
Soon after the gate of the city, you enter a Swiss-cheese composition of carved-out rooms and steps. A stone path heads along the top of the plateau, past two locked kenassas (Karaite prayer houses) to the right. To the left of the first intersection stands the red-tile roofed Muslim mausoleum (1437) of Dzhanike-Khanym, daughter of Tokhtamys. We advise to go left behind the mausoleum towards the cliff edge and enjoy the view into the valley below. Mind you that there is a entrance fee at the gate (40 Grivnas/person).
The place is very beautiful and the view is great but no real efforts to restore the place have been made.
Going downhill we stopped and eaten at the restaurant where the bike was. Good food and excellent coffee.
We exited Bakhchisaray and took the main road to Sevastopol. Along the way we made a short stop at Inkerman another cave monastery.
The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement is a cave monastery in a cliff near the city of Inkerman. It was founded in 1850 on the site of a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St. Clement were supposedly kept before their removal to San Clemente by Saints Cyril and Methodius. The early Christians are supposed to have kept the relics in a grotto which could be visited only on the anniversary of his death. The monastery was damaged by the Crimean Earthquake of 1927 and was closed between 1931 and 1991. During World War II the caves housed the officers of a Soviet army defending Sevastopol. Several of the churches build in time were taken down by the Soviets.
We enter the mighty port of Sevastopol taking the ring for as long as we could, then enter the city as close as possible to the center. The traffic in and around Sevastopol is quite ok, the main city itself being on a peninsula with many one way streets. Of course that I managed to get on the street were we should find our hostel, one corner after the number I was looking for, so I got the chance to make another round.
The hostel is TIU Bolshaya Hostel, situated in the center of the city. The owner/manager is Adam an Australian guy, who together with his polish girlfriend Sylvia had open for the summer a hostel in Odessa and one in Sevastopol. In both hostels the conditions were great and both the hosts were very helpful. Of course English was not a problem. Adam is full of stories regarding his travel to Russia and Ukraine on his monster 4x4, and how he was detained over 50 hours on the Ukrainian/Russian border in Kerch/Kavckaz.
His blog: http://adamcontra.wordpress.com/
The border story: http://adamcontra.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/53-hours-doesnt-sound-like-a-long-time/
Sevastopol is a Hero City of the Soviet Union. This is a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during the German-Soviet War (World War II) of 1941 to 1945. It was awarded to only twelve cities of the Soviet Union. The combined German/Romania assault of the city lasted from October 1941 until June 1942. During the siege and heavy bombardment, they used the gigantic Schwerer Gustav railroad cannon.
During the Soviet times, Sevastopol was a “closed city”. Today Sevastopol has a population of aprox 340,000, being the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa. The Russians are the majority of the population account for 70%, with Ukrainians being the second group with 22%.
The city was the home of the Russian then Soviet Black Sea Fleet. According to the 1997 treaty, a Russian naval base would continue to be located in Sevastopol and the adjoining region on the terms of a 20-year renewable lease, following a long diplomatic and political dispute between Russia and the newly independent Ukraine.
In 2010, Russia and Ukraine ratified the Russian Ukrainian Naval Base for Gas treaty, extending the Russian Navy's lease of the Sevastopol base for 25 years after 2017 (through 2042) with an option to prolong the lease for another 5 years (through 2047). The ratification process in the Ukrainian parliament encountered stiff opposition but it was eventually ratified by a 52% majority vote.
After putting the bike in the courtyard, we took a long walk around the peninsula to visit the city.
The history of the city is connected with the military history of the region and with the fate of the Black Sea Fleet. The city has endless monuments dedicated to the sailor defending the city (apparently more than 1,400) from the Crimean War to the Great Patriotic War.
The Obelisk in honor of the Hero-City of Sevastopol on Cape Khrustalny
Eagle Column - The Eagle Column commemorates Russian ships deliberately scuppered at the mouth of the harbor in 1854 to make it impossible for enemy ships to pass.
The Monument to the Scuttled Ships
The Monument to Admiral P. S. Nakhimov
Painted Panorama - The most famous Sevastopol wartime memorial is the painted panorama, on a hill near the centre of town. A painting around the inner wall of a circular building is designed to bring the 349-day siege of Sevastopol to life. Unfortuynatly it closes at 6 PM, so we were not able to see it.
The building of the "Defense of Sevastopol" Panorama
After the long day we bought some beers and swap stories with Adam at the hostel. The price of a private room for the 2 of us at the hostel was 375 Grivnas.
asilindean screwed with this post 02-23-2012 at 06:49 AM