With its healing brine baths and golden beaches, its wealth and variety of architecture, and its layers-deep history, this resort offers something for everyone – from hedonist to hypochondriac
Yevpatoria is a delightful place to spend a relaxing few days out of season – strolling along the elegant promenade and through the back streets of the old town, eating at the museum home of an iconic Russian female poet, boarding a bright blue electric tram to explore the city, perhaps even taking one of the cures for which the resort is famous.
Like many places in Crimea, it has been through a number of name changes, from Gözleve (Turkish) to Kezlev (Tatar) to Yevpatoria (Russian, from King Mithridates VI’s title “Eupator”, meaning “born of a noble father”). Many old maps have it simply as Eupatoria. There is little sign today of the commerce (the salt, the slaves, the furs) that made it one of the wealthiest cities in Crimea. In the khans’ day, almost 90 per cent of khanate income derived from the port dues of Gözleve.
The city was always a cosmopolitan centre, with numerous communities, each with its own places of worship, and a wide array of architectural styles. You can still see the Neoclassical customs house and the Russian church that replaced the smaller one painted by Bossoli in the 1840s, when Yevpatoria was a prosperous trading centre benefiting from being part of the New Russia. The large domed 16th-century mosque in the centre of Bossoli’s painting, the Juma Jami, also known as the Khan’s Mosque, remains a distinctive landmark. The imperial Ottoman architect Sinan was commissioned by the Crimean khan Devlet I Giray to draw up the plans for it, and he may have had some small part in its design, but at the time he was mostly preoccupied with the Süleymaniye in Istanbul.
Across from the mosque, the Orthodox Cathedral of St Nicholas, founded in 1893, has an eye-catching blue dome. In 1916 Tsar Nicholas II and his family visited the cathedral to give thanks for the departure of the allied English, French and Turks at the end of the Crimean War. In 1855 Yevpatoria had been the site of one of the most important battles of the war.
By the end of the 19th century, the city was again flourishing, now as a fashionable spa resort. This ushered in a construction boom and a concentration of beautiful Art Nouveau buildings.
By any standard, Hüsamettin Koçan’s mountain-top Baksı Museum, in the northeastern Anatolian village where he was born, deserves a place among the world’s top ten remote museums.
Philip Mansel on the future Edward VII’s Ottoman expedition
This silver goblet was one of more than 600 medieval treasures from Central Asia crowding Bonhams’ elegant rooms in Edinburgh for six days in January.
Thomas Whittemore, the American scholar and philanthropist, was instrumental in restoring the Byzantine treasures of Ayasofya. Robert S Nelson delves into his enigmatic life
Mulberries come in an array of hues: black, white, pink, purple; some enticingly sweet, others astringent and healing. As Berrin Torolsan can testify, having grown up with them in her Istanbul garden, all are adored – by man, mallard and pine marten alike. Here she traces the history of this lucious fruit
From the towers of Tatary to the tombs of Scythian kings, from clifftop citadels to an underground castle, from Balaklava to the beaches of the Tsarist Riviera, Crimea is a land to fall in love with, waiting to be enjoyed, not destroyed
The V&A’s Tim Stanley eyes up the Louvre’s astonishing new Islamic offering
Aard Streefland tells the story of the Dutch orientalist Marius Bauer (1867–1932)
As the Sadberk Hanım Museum celebrates the art of embroidery, Min Hogg marvels at the motifs of palaces, fruit and flowers, sea and cityscape, wrought stitch by stitch, to adorn every Ottoman home
The Crimean khans founded their capital in the fertile foothills of the Crimean Mountains in the 15th century. This was the nucleaus of the land known as Cim Tartary. The garden palace of Bahçesaray is a glorious reminder of the khans’ 350-year reign
Dramatic and picturesque, Crimea’s southern coast became a resort for doomed royalty and a refuge for ailing literati
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
Geonese merchants, a millionaire painter and a symbolist poet brought fortune and fame to the eastern stretches of Crimea’s south coast and its fertile hinterland
Balaklava, Sevastopol, Inkerman, the Valley of Death – in Britain, where the savage toll was so acutely felt, these names still have the power to arouse pride and fury. Algernon Percy travelled to Crimea to visit the evocative battlefields
From the Danube to the Caucasus, conflict raged. The Ottomans were fighting for their territories and their lives, but the full story of their courage is only now being told, says the military historian Mesut Uyar
The war of 1853–56 was a calamitous clash of imperial ambitions. Turkey sustained heavy losses, but without them she might have ceased to exist. David Barchard puts the conflict in context
Yevpatoria in Crimea was the home the young Anna Akhmatova, an icon of Russian literature, who fell foul of Stalin
Like many writers, Chekhov made his way to Crimea to nurse his TB in a milder climate. His two houses, now museums, became magnets for artists. One he left to his sister, the other to his wife.