Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine — the Earth in Miniature Part 2

Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine — the Earth in Miniature Part 2

The history of the Crimean Peninsula is already richer than its character. It goes back hundreds and thousands of years creating that special romantic flavor which you feel in Crimea once you step on its land. It is really an amazing feeling to touch the stones, which somebody’s hands put there many centuries before you came on the Earth.

A little bit of imagination and you will be able to hear the sounds of their hammers and saws, to watch numerous combats, horsemen and warriors fighting for the right to own this desirable land.

Who were all those people who lived there and left their tracks in the history of the Crimean Peninsula? Every year dozens of archaeological and historical expeditions work in Crimea trying to find the exact answers. What did they find out? The earliest known traces of inhabitants belong to the Cimmerians who called the peninsula Tauris. During the 7th century BC they were expelled by the Scythians. In 5th c. BC, Greek colonists started to settle their colonies along the Black Sea coast. They established the sea ports of Chersonesos outside present-day Sevastopol, Theodosia (now Feodosia), and Kerkinitida (present-day Yevpatoria).

During the later centuries, Crimea’s lands were occupied by the Roman legionaries (1st century AD), the Goths (AD. 250), the Bulgars (6th century), the Khazars (8th century), the state of Kievan Rus (10th-11th centuries), the Byzantine Greeks (1016), the Kipchaks (1050). In 1223, sweeping all of them, a new force appeared on the Crimean Peninsula. Chingiz Khan’s Golden Horde invaded Crimea and made it part of the huge Tatar empire. Tatar first Crimea’s capital was established in Qirim (now Stary Krym). It gave its name to the hole peninsula . Later in the 15th century it moved to Bakhchisarai.

In 1475 Crimea fell under protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. Over the next three hundred years the Crimean Khans were appointed by Constantinople and the Tatars remained the rulers of Crimea. But the developing Russian empire was strive to gain control of the passage from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. In 1783 Catherine the Great took Crimea from the Ottoman Empire. Russia spent four years of wars to make Crimea part of the great Russian empire.

In the 19th century the Ottoman Empire started to lose its strength and couldn’t control the strategically important Black Sea area. The major European states didn’t want to let Russia rule over the area. In 1854 France and Britain came to the Turkish Sultan’s aid. It was the beginning of the Crimean War. They landed their expeditionary force in Balaklava, near Sevastopol and hostilities began. History left us documents about terrible casualties on both sides, the major defeat on the Turkish fleet, and a disastrous cavalry charge of the Light Brigade.

The 20th century brought new disastrous and major changes to the Crimean Peninsula. During the 1st World War Crimea was taken by German forces. The October dramatical change in 1917 made Crimea one of the major battlefields between White and Red Russian soldiers. During the 2nd World War from 1942 until 1944 Crimea was occupied by Germany once again. In 1945 the Livadia Palace near Yalta was where the Yalta Conference took place. Russian Secretary-General Joseph Stalin, British chief Minister Winston Churchill, and USA President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a history in Europe. After the end of the 2nd World War 220,000 Crimean Tatars and 70,000 Crimean Greeks were deported from Crimea to Central Asia. They were allowed to return to Crimea in the 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union.

In 1954 Nikita Khruschev had returned Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR. In 1991 Ukraine declared its independence and Crimea became an independent Republic within Ukraine.

For many years Crimea has been a favorite tourist destination for people from all over the Soviet Union and number of European countries. Crimean Peninsula is famous for its warm sea, sunny and healthy climate, different flora and fauna, and bright fragrant wines. It is ideal for rock climbing, mountain biking, and more “exotic” kinds of outdoor activity which include: yachting, windsurfing, spelaeology, horse riding, gliding, hang-gliding, sight-seeing in helicopters.

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Part # 3 of this article will guide you though the major tourist areas of the Crimean Peninsula.

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