Khersoness

On the faraway outskirts of Sevastopol, at Khersoness, lies one of the richest archeological sites on the peninsula. Various columns and portico that used to belong to an early Christian church (approximately 4th century AD) are proudly standing close to the vast sea, surrounded by the remains of a once-great city, a Greek colony. The city was founded around 420 BC. The relics and the "trophies" that the archeologists find here are all available at the local museum.

Back in the day, the Greek conquerors took Khersoness over from the once-mighty Tauric and Scythian tribes that inhabited the region in the 5th century BC. Slowly, but steadily, the Greeks founded countless settlements along the rich shores of the Black Sea. The historians are often calling Khersoness one of the last Greek city-states. Due to trading with Greece and numerous tribes/countries up north the city had a booming economy. Here they were minting their own coins in the 3rd century BC. Slaves were a big part of the city's trade and income. However, when the Romans attacked Khersoness in the 1st century BC, a slave uprising led by the fearless Saumacus, helped the assailers conquer the city.

Under the Roman rule, Khersoness smoothly regained a certain degree of autonomy for lending a hand with the local rebellious tribes. Several relics from the 1st-century point to the fact that Byzantines restored the city's walls.

By the 10th century, a new mighty force appeared on the horizon of Crimea. A bunch of princes from Kiev were growing stronger by the minute, and their influence was growing along. Soon, their efforts lead to the foundation of Kievan Rus, the predecessor of modern Russia. The glorious statue of Vladimir the First is Khersoness' most famous figure. Vladimir brought Christianity to Kievan Rus and made it the official religion in 988 AD. He ensured his princedom being strong and steady by marrying Byzantine emperor's sister Anna. The two leaders made a deal: Vladimir was to marry Anna, accepting baptism and handing the city back to the Byzantines. After that, he returned to Kiev and started converting his people. The mass baptism took place in Dnepr, the river. Later, the Russians started to call him Saint Vladimir.

Until the 13th century, Khersoness kept growing bigger and stronger as part of the Byzantine Empire. However, when the traders from Venetian and Genoese turned Sudak and Kaffa (Feodosia) into the new commercial centers, the city went into recession. Furthermore, after Chingiz Khan and his deadly and sinister Golden Horde marched west in 1223, the Tatars started attacking Khersoness, accelerating its decline. By the end of the 14th century, it was sacked by a nameless Khan. Soon after that, the city was transformed into a ghost town, and it was slowly disappearing under the soil over the next 5 centuries. But, in 1827, the officials started the first excavations to "dig" the city out.

Even if you're not a big fan of archeology and ancient artifacts, Khersoness will still take your breath away with the heavenly views. Pick a breezy yet sunny day and watch how the wind makes the waves "grapple" with the rocks and the shores. The sea itself is translucent slash green, while the waves are almost white.

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