Extract

Crimea: the West Coast

A stage for power and pleasure

Two ports – Sevastopol and Yevpatoria – rule Crimea’s flat west coast. One was built for war, the other for recreation. Both played a part in the Crimean War

Two handsome seaside cities make ideal bases from which to explore Crimea’s historically diverse west coast and the battlefields of the Crimean War. Sevastopol, in the south, was built to rule the waves; Yevpatoria, in the north, existed to enjoy them.

Sevastopol is a solid working city but with the look of a tiered wedding cake: a northern Neoclassicist’s version of a Mediterranean city, with sudden flourishes of Soviet heroism. Despite its formidable defences, visible here in Bossoli’s 1840s view of the port, it was twice flattened by European bombardment – French and British in 1856, German in 1942. After each horrific siege, it rose again, but in the 1950s, as thousands of labourers from all over the Soviet Union finished rebuilding it to Stalin’s taste, it vanished for almost five decades into a Cold War fog, a “closed city” seen only by the Soviet navy (and no doubt spies) until 1997. It is still home to the Black Sea fleets of Ukraine and Russia.

All this gives an edge as you contemplate Art (Artillery) Bay over a bowl of porridge from the elegant colonnade of Best Western’s Sevastopol Hotel. Yevpatoria grew fat on a more life-enhancing perennial than war: salt, gathered from the less-than-scenic salt pans around the city. Money and hedonism met in Gözleve (its Ottoman name), urbanising even nomadic Scythians. It is now a deliciously unfashionable resort with miles of fine golden sand and avenues of Art Nouveau dachas.

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Issue 49, April 2013 Travels in Tartary
£10.00 / $12.67 / 44.43 TL
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Issue 49, April 2013 Travels in Tartary
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