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Potemkin’s gift to Catherine the Great, ‘the greatest harbour in the world’, Sevastopol makes an ideal base from which to explore Crimea’s west coast, and the mountainous southwest corner of the peninsula.
Only recently opened to visitors, the city, with its population of under half a million, remains military in character with many monuments to the city’s two sieges (in the Crimean War and WWII). A large round building, the Panorama Museum houses an astonishing 360-degree panorama of the first of these (and a smaller version on the outskirts depicts the WWII siege). Another excellent museum devoted to Crimean War memorabilia has recently opened in the Mykhailivska Battery.
Simferopol Airport is little more than an hour’s drive. A railway runs south-west from Simferopol to Sevastopol.
Sevastopol is a very good city base from which to explore southwest Crimea. Traffic is never an issue; the roads are excellent. To find your feet in Sevastopol itself, use the online guide Sevastopol In Your Pocket . Nearby is the valley and village of Balaklava that receives a steady stream of visitors. And on the hills and river valleys north and west of the city are the poignant battlefields. But Bahçesaray, Simferopol and even Yalta are all in easy reach for leisurely day-trips.
Boat trips round the complex of docks show the history of the town in its ships. Not far from the centre are the remains of the Greek city of Chersoneos, where later Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus’ was baptised, leading to the Christianisation of Russia.
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