Sevastopol – military and historical jewel of the Crimean Black Sea

With backpacks on our backs and full of travelers’ enthusiasm we got on the minibus from Bakhchisarai to Sevastopol. The travel went smoothly and in a pleasant atmosphere enriched with sounds flowing from the Ukrainian radio. Also, the views were beautiful and interesting.

It’s funny to discover that what in Poland is considered to be “passé”, in Ukraine is still fashionable – it’s almost as if one went back in time! Examples are tinted car windows, in which vehicles are equipped quite often. What is more, wearing training suits with “three stripes” (Adidas), which was on the peak of popularity in the ’90s Poland, is still extremely popular among Ukrainian men. Although it was quite warm, the women wore high boots, and to make them even more visible – ultra-short skirts.

Typical Crimean view
Mountains in Alupka

Getting back to the cars, a very unpopular practice in Crimea (I do not know if the in whole Ukraine, so I’d rather not risk assuming) is to use lights during the day. Any. Even in the densest fog limiting visibility as much as possible – most drivers would not turn their lights on. Seat belts are not being fastened, and the more luxurious the car is, the slower it runs and rather not speeds. In the end, why would one expose themselves to additional expenses when gasoline is so expensive?

Greek treasure in the arms of Sevastopol

It was only when we got there, did I realize that Sevastopol is a large city (308 thousand inhabitants). To the destination of our visit in Sevastopol we had to get by marshrutka – cheap and a bit overcrowded. As usual, we did not find in the marshrutka any timetable, but the courteous driver let us know when we should get out. The ride abound in beautiful views, as Sevastopol has many well restored and well-maintained historic buildings. Their number is quite big, especially when one takes into consideration that the city in its history experienced siege twice – the first time it lasted 11 months, the second 8. Also today, the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet is located in this city.

Basilica 1935 in Chersonesos
Crimean Basilica 1935
The best known monument – Basilica 1935
Chersonesus, Sevastopol, main view
Chersonesus view

After a short walk we saw our destination: Chersonesus along with the Cathedral of St. Vladimir. Entrance fee was 35 UAH per person plus 15 UAH from any person who wanted to take pictures in the park. From various sources, one can find out that the buildings, which are located in the Chersonesus, are reconstructed – these are the remnants of the city. This is visible in an ostentatious presence of concrete between the walls’ stones, which drew our attention.

Cathedral of St. Vladimir
Cathedral of St. Vladimir

However, should one forget about the concrete, try to sense the atmosphere of the place and also to make their own reconstruction in their imagination, it will become a really charming place. Chersonesus was founded by the Greeks in the sixth century BC. Today it is one of the monuments registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and the workplace of Polish archaeologists from Adam Mickiewicz University. Moreover, in the pie of creation of the historical park in Chersonesus, a Polish archaeologist, Karol Kościuszko – Waluszyński, had his fingers.

Unfortunately, due to its fame even in April, outside the tourist season, Chersonesus is a place full of tourists. It is sad to see how many of them lack respect for the historical legacy by, for example, stepping on the restored walls. Then it turns out that the presence of that ugly concrete is completely justified.

 Basilica in the basilica
“Basilica in the basilica”

It’s worth sparing some time to explore the whole historic park, because everyone will find among its sights something interesting, and even beyond the ruins there are many pleasant and charming places to visit. I loved the “basilica in the basilica”, but I must admit, that no creation of human hands did win with a pebble beach, which we found quite by accident. It is not visible at first sight, since it is very small and located below the sheer coast. To be able to enjoy the view like from a touristic folder, one had to go down the stairs. Stones on the beach were quite large, in light colors, water turquoise and pure…

Beach in Sevastopol
Beautiful beach hidden in Chersonesos

Moving on

Before boarding a marshrutka to Alupka, we ate another delicious Ukrainian dinner. In Sevastopol we paid the highest price for a dinner during the whole trip: 240 UAH for all of us, but it was worth it.

Another ride, we got off at Alupka, once again we were trying to find a place to sleep with a little help of GPS. We hit the street close to the sea and the Prince Vorontsov’s palace. As we could not find anything with the map, we took the opportunity to ask a man we encountered. It turned out that he is a cycling coach and the athlete he trains is staying overnight in the house next to us. He also advised us to talk to the owner, and so we did.

After brief negotiations we got at our disposal a two-bedroom apartment with kitchen, bathroom and hallway. We counted how much this rent would cost us a month – we were shocked that we had paid less than a month of living in our then-apartment, where I together with my boyfriend rented a single room. Plus, we did not have access either to the sea or to the mountains from that apartment in Poland.

Pebble beach in Crimea, Ukraine

A beach in Alupka

The access to the sea in Alupka is not so easy. Beaches are usually not very attractive, because they are small and rocky, but the waves are big. Additionally, many hotels together with the land needed to build the hotel, bought their own piece of beach and made it a private area accessible only to hotel guests. For this reason, it is very difficult to walk along the beach, because at some points one will need to walk around large hotel complexes to go further.

Later on that day, after a small grocery shopping, we went for a walk around the town, heading towards Vorontsov Palace and the park that surrounds it. Along the way, we came across only one open souvenir stall with gadgets for tourists. The most interesting souvenir available? A baseball bat 🙂

The Vorontsov Palace
Park at the Vorontsov Palace

Vorontsov Palace was designed by an English architect Edward Blore and his assistant William Hunt. The sight of it is very pleasing to the eye, quite frugal in form. Both architects took inspiration from Scotland palaces which is visible at first glance, but the architecture has also other accents – Gothic and Moorish. It also is a very touristic place, but is frequently visited by locals too, because it is very nice to sit in a large, well designed park.

As soon as we returned from the walk, we went to sleep. The entire next day was to be spent at resting and laziness, but the day afterwards was once again intensive as we were to travel around the coast of Crimea. It was the day when I visited the ugliest city I’ve ever seen. Will you guess which one? 🙂

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