Crimea: The once-preferred retreat of Russian Tsars has too much to offer | travel | Hindustan Times
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Crimea: The once-preferred retreat of Russian Tsars has too much to offer

With its pebbled Black Sea beaches to mountain trails, Crimea is a popular health retreat. Not surprising because during the Soviet era, the mansions of the elite during the time of the Tsars were converted into sanatoriums.

travel Updated: Nov 01, 2016 09:09 IST
Crimea

Swallow’s Nest castle on the rock over the Black Sea at sunset. It is a decorative castle located at Gaspra, a small spa town between Yalta and Alupka, in Crimea.(Shutterstock)

It’s a land that’s seen the Charge of the Light Brigade. It’s where the Big Three Met at the height of World War II to decide on the final contours of the conflict. It’s also been in the news for all the wrong reasons, but that hasn’t kept the tourists away from what was once the preferred retreat of the Russian Tsars.

Разоблачений пост. Примерно полгода назад мы уже писали про один очень наглый паблик... Название у него @crimeafirst. Господа админы @crimeafirst копируют наши посты, совсем не стесняясь. Да, они подписывают автора фото, тем самым не нарушая авторских прав на фото, НО их наглость не имеет предела, они вообще не заморачиваясь, переносят наш контент в свою группу. Да, правильно, зачем шевелить извилинами, когда можно просто нажать Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V?!🤔 За фото благодарим @m_serhii #крым#новыйсвет#горасокол#море#горы##красота#осень#осеньвкрыму#хорошовкрыму#путешествие#этокрымдетка#корочевкрым#пейзаж#RHPосень#sea#instacrimea#travel#beautiful#amazing#omg#wow#instagramrussia#russia#natgeoru#natgeotravelru#followme#like4like#crimea#crimea_life

A photo posted by Крым ❤️ (@crimea_life) on

By September 2016, Crimea, annexed two years ago by Russia after a referendum termed dodgy by the Western world, recorded over four million foreign arrivals, 24.9% more than last year. In 2013, National Geographic rated it one of the best trips of the year.

With its pebbled Black Sea beaches to mountain trails, Crimea is a popular health retreat. Not surprising because during the Soviet era, the mansions of the elite during the time of the Tsars were converted into sanatoriums.

But then, Crimea could also be living in a time warp. Despite the language barrier, you might be asked if you are an Indian. Raj Kapoor is what you are likely to get in response.

The group of Indian journalists I was with was of course greeted with much enthusiasm here.

Mera Juta Hai Japani, and Awara hoon main might have been forgotten in India, but not here.

In Koktebel, coming back from a cruise on the Black sea, a shop owner winding down for the season was happy to have us Indians visiting his city, invited us to a party and even gave parting gifts.

In Yalta, where Anton Chekhov wrote his Lady With The Dog short story, his statue, along with the lady and her dog, catch the eye as one walks along the promenade by the Black Sea.

Chekhov’s house here, named White Dacha, where he penned several of his famous works, is also well-preserved.

The promenade, with shops and restaurants lined on one side and the pebbled sea beach on the other, stays alive through the day with locals, shoppers, tourists, as well as performers.

As shops shut for the day and the calmness of the night takes over, the promenade remains alive with activities. And, as the crowd thins and restaurants and shops shut for the night, the promenade echoes with songs of love and rebellion -- and even politics.

The city is dotted with historical monuments worth visiting. These include a surprisingly small neo-castle atop a cliff called the Swallow’s nest; the Livadia Palace, the last vacation home of Tsar Nicholas and also where the Yalta conference was held between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin; and Vornotsov Palace, where Churchill and his delegation stayed during the conference.

Стала известна программа Бала хризантем 2016! В этом году всех гостей Никитского сада ждет 12 сюрпризов. 29 октября в 12.00 торжественно откроется самый яркий и ароматный праздник осени – Бал хризантем <Очей очарованье>. Программу смотрите в комментариях 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼 Друзья, а вы собираетесь на Бал Хризантем? 🌺🌺🌺За это прекрасное фото спасибо @wildcrimea #крым#никитскийботаническийсад#ялта#балхризантем#хризантемы#осень#осеньвкрыму#хорошовкрыму#корочевкрым#этокрымдетка#краскиосени#путешествие#красота#autumn#beautiful#flowers#instagramrussia#russia#instacrimea#travel#natgeoru#crimea#crimea_life

A photo posted by Крым ❤️ (@crimea_life) on

The Vornotsov Palace was designed by British architect Edward Blore, who also designed London’s Buckingham Palace. It was built between 1828 and 1848 for Russian Prince Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov.

The central bay of the southern facade of the palace is said to be inspired by Delhi’s Jama Masjid.

The ancient fortress at Sudak, a nearly two-hour drive from Yalta, is said to be built in the first in second century AD, though there is no archaeological evidence to prove this.

Some historians believe it was built in the 7th century by the Byzantines; others say it was built between 1371 and 1469 by the Genoese colonists as the main fortified base on the Crimean peninsula.

Occupied several times by different rulers, the shrine inside the fortress was initially built as Turkish mosque, then rebuilt as a Russian Orthodox cathedral and then as a Catholic cathedral as the religion of the rulers changed.

Since the late 18th century it has served as an Orthodox Church, a German Lutheran Church and an Armenian Catholic church. It is now an archeological museum.