Palaces of Crimea – the visiting card of the peninsula

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It is simply impossible to imagine Crimea without one of its main adornments – magnificent, truly royal palaces, striking with magnificent architecture. Palace of Princess Gagarina, Livadiyskiy, Massandrovskiy, Vorontsovskiy, Swallow’s Nest, Khanskiy, Yusupovskiy – and this is not a complete list of all palace buildings located in the most picturesque corners of the Crimean peninsula.

Palaces of Crimea
Palaces of Crimea – the visiting card of the peninsula Map showing the sights of Crimea, including some palaces

Such an abundance of architectural and historical monuments can be explained quite simply – at all times the Crimea was famous for its excellent climatic conditions, and the warm sea, beautiful landscapes and tropical vegetation could not but attract representatives of the aristocracy here. Many famous surnames of the Russian Empire, including, of course, the imperial family itself, preferred to spend the summer away from dampness, lingering rains and gray granite canals of St. accommodation and in order to emphasize the highest status of “vacationers”.

It is almost impossible to tell about all the beautiful Crimean palaces in one article, but you can single out the most significant, famous, glorious for their history and unique architecture buildings, which are worth mentioning, and having been in Crimea, visit and see firsthand all their beauty and uniqueness.

Khan’s palace in Bakhchisarai

The history of the Crimean peninsula is closely related to the history of the Ottoman Empire. At one time – from 1478 to the moment when, after the Russian-Turkish War, the defeated Turks did not abandon their claims to the Crimea, the peninsula was one of its parts. There are quite a lot of traces of Turkish rule in Crimea, but the most striking and impressive is the Khan’s Palace, located in Bakhchisarai and which was the residence of the Crimean khans since the 16th century..

It is interesting that the beginning of the construction of the palace in 1532 was the beginning of the construction of the very future prestigious resort of Bakhchisarai, so we can say with confidence that without this monumental structure, most likely, a new, bright and now very famous Crimean city would not have arisen.

Khan's palace in Bakhchisarai
Khan’s palace in Bakhchisarai

By the way, the palace is the only example of the original residence of a Muslim ruler in the world, an original Tatar-Crimean architecture, an example of the unique architecture of this isolated people..

In fact, the Khan’s Palace is a whole palace complex, which as a whole creates an unusual appearance of this building. The Khan’s Palace includes:

Palace Square
Palace Square

Palace Square
North gate and gate tower

Svitsky building
Svitsky building

Great Khan Mosque
Great Khan Mosque

Khan cemetery
Khan cemetery

Golden fountain
Golden fountain

Fountain of Tears
The famous and later copied more than once “Fountain of Tears”

Falcon tower
Falcon tower

In addition, the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisarai includes such important and famous buildings as the Northern and Southern Dyurba (domed tombs), Rotunda Mengli II Geray, Stables and Library buildings, Southern Gates, Garden Terraces, Dyurba Dilyara-bikech, Persian Garden, Harem Building , Basseyny courtyard, Summer gazebo located on the first floor, Golden cabinet on the second floor, Small Khan’s mosque, Baths of Sary-Guzel, Fountain courtyard, Divan Hall, Demir-Kapy Portal, Living quarters of the Crimean khans and the Kitchen building.

At one time, Catherine II, who lived here for three days, Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin, Emperors Alexander I and Alexander II, Vasily Andreevich Zhukovsky visited the Khan Palace, and during the next Russian-Turkish war, an infirmary was located here, in which the famous Nikolai Ivanovich Pirogov worked.

As you can see, in order to simply examine all the chambers and interesting corners of the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisarai without exception, it will take a whole day, and to evaluate all the nuances of architectural solutions and study the history of the complex – several leisurely, attentive visits to the Khan’s palace complex together with a professional guide.

Now in the Khan Palace, in the Divan Hall of which in 1917 the Kurultai of the Crimean Tatars proclaimed the creation of their own, independent, Crimean Tatar government, there is a historical and architectural museum.

Vorontsov Palace

Graceful, elegant, unique, charming – the Vorontsov Palace is rightfully considered not only one of the most beautiful, but also romantic places in Crimea.

The style of architecture of the Vorontsov Palace can be described as a mixture of English, neo-Moorish and classical trends. And the main feature of the palace complex was how well the building fit into the surrounding landscape – the Vorontsov Palace was built according to the relief of the mountains and looks like an integral part of the landscape.

Vorontsov Palace
Vorontsov Palace against the background of the Crimean mountains

The eastern luxury of the main entrance, the staircase to which is guarded by marble lions, Gothic chimneys resembling minarets of mosques, austere towers of the northern facade, luxurious palace interiors – a visit to the Vorontsov Palace will become one of the most unforgettable memories of a vacation in Crimea.

The main entrance of the Vorontsov Palace
The main entrance of the Vorontsov Palace

The construction of the complex took 20 years – from 1828 to 1848. The building, which was designed by the English architect Edward Blore, was to become the summer residence of the famous political figure of the early 19th century – Count Mikhail Semenovich Vorontsov, who at that time was the Governor-General of the Novorossiysk Territory.

The construction involved the labor of serfs from the Vladimir and Moscow provinces, hereditary stonecutters and stone cutters, as well as soldiers of the sapper battalion, who took part in the construction of the park terraces in front of the southern facade of the palace.

The famous marble lions were created in the workshop of Giovani Bonnani, an Italian sculptor, and then installed on the Lion’s Terrace.

One of the marble lions
One of the marble lions

The Vorontsov Palace served as a summer residence for three generations of the Vorontsov family, and after the 1917 revolution it was nationalized and in 1921 it became a museum. During the Great Patriotic War, the building was twice threatened with destruction, and only the efforts of S.G. Schekoldin, a museum researcher, saved the palace from being blown up. However, the occupants managed to take out a lot of unique exhibits from the palace furnishings that had been completely preserved by that time. Unfortunately, it was not possible to return most of the interior items and works of art that were exported to Germany after the war..

From 4 to 11 February 1945, the Vorontsov Palace served as the residence of the British delegation that came to the Yalta Conference, under the leadership of Winston Churchill.

Vorontsov Palace
Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill at the Yalta Conference

The first 10 years after the end of the war, the palace served as a state dacha and was closed for visits by ordinary guests of Crimea, only in 1955 the museum reopened in the building and excursions began to be held, and since 1990 the Vorontsov Palace has been part of the Alupka Palace and Park Museum-Reserve.

It is impossible not to mention the masterpiece of landscape art – the Alupka Park, created by Karl Kebach, which surrounds the palace. Majestic trees, several ponds with goldfish and snow-white swans, green lawns and waterfalls – you can wander here for hours.

Alupka park
Alupka park

Livadia Palace

A monument of the history of Ukraine of national importance, one of the most interesting architectural objects of the Crimean peninsula, the Livadia Palace is located in the village of Livadia, just 3 kilometers from Big Yalta.

Livadia Palace
Livadia Palace

In 1834, the owner of Livadia (from the Greek – lawn, meadow) became the property of Count Lev Severinovich Pototsky. A manor house, greenhouses, and a landscape park were built on the count’s estate, designed by F. Elson. Already in 1861, Livadia was presented to Empress Maria Alexandrovna, wife of Alexander II. Potocki’s house was rebuilt according to Monighetti’s project into the Grand Palace; there also appeared the Heir’s Palace or the Small Palace, the Svitsky House and a separate kitchen. In the same period, the Church of the Exaltation of the Cross was erected..

It was in the Livadia Palace in 1894 that Alexander III, the father of the last Russian emperor Nicholas II, died.

Alexander the Third with his family
Livadia, 1893, Alexander the Third with his family

In 1910, a decision was made to reconstruct the Livadia Palace. The alteration was carried out by the architect Krasnov, and already in 1911 the palace appeared, which is so well known to everyone from photographs and trips to the Crimea. Nicholas II spent 4 million rubles on the reconstruction, in addition to the main building, the Page building and the palace of the Minister of the Court of Baron Fredericks were erected.

The inner courtyard of the Livadia Palace
The inner courtyard of the Livadia Palace

After the revolution and the nationalization of the property of the royal family, a sanatorium for peasants operated in the Livadia Palace, and in 1931 a climatic medical plant began to work.

Unfortunately, the Small Palace or the palace of the heir was destroyed during the war, but the rest of the buildings of the palace ensemble survived.

An American delegation headed by President Theodore Roosevelt lived in the Livadia Palace, which arrived at the Yalta Conference in 1945.

In 1953, a sanatorium for workers began to work again in the Livadia Palace, and in 1974 it was decided to open an exhibition in the main building, dedicated, of course, not to the tsarist period of the palace, but to the Yalta conference.

Since 1993, a museum has been opened in the Livadia Palace, and the exposition “The Romanovs in Livadia” was located in the personal chambers of the emperor and his family, which tells about the stay in the Livadia estate of 3 generations of Russian emperors.

International summit at the Livadia Palace
International summit at the Livadia Palace

In the White Hall of the Palace, exactly where the Yalta Conference was held, and Russian emperors at one time decided the issues of empire management, summits of the Yalta International Strategy have been regularly held since 2004, where the heads of many states arrive..

White Hall of the Livadia Palace
White Hall of the Livadia Palace

Massandra Palace

In contrast to the magnificent, ceremonial, replete with huge halls for receiving guests and holding balls, another imperial residence in the Crimea – the Massandra Palace, looks more like a modest dacha (of course, of royal proportions). Small, cozy, living rooms of this palace were intended for the residence of the large family of Emperor Alexander III.

Massandra Palace
Massandra Palace

The construction of this palace, literally lost in a quiet, cozy corner, between the picturesque rocks of Massandra, was started in 1880 by order of Prince Vorontsov. However, the prince did not have a chance to live in the new residence – in 1882 Semyon Mikhailovich Vorontsov died and the construction of the palace was suspended.

In 1889, the unfinished palace was acquired by the Appanage Department of Alexander III and began to rebuild it into a royal summer residence. The construction was supervised by the architect Oskar Emilievich Wegener according to the project of Maximilian Mesmakher. Mesmakher managed to turn the ascetic knight’s castle, which was originally planned to be built, into a truly fabulous, very cute and homely tower.

The 3-storey building has a lot of decorative details, but at the same time it seems light and graceful. In the interior design, the architect used a combination of various styles: Gothic is closely intertwined with Baroque, Classicism and Rococo. Oak, mahogany and walnut were used for decoration – Alexander the Third adored everything Russian and wanted to see his summer residence just like that.

Facade of the Massandra Palace
Facade of the Massandra Palace

And although Alexander III never had a chance to live in the Massandra Palace, his son Nicholas II completed the palace in memory of his father, and the interior of the building was furnished in accordance with the fashion of that era. Marble fireplaces, stucco ceilings, stained glass windows and carved panels are perfectly combined with each other. The imperial reception room is distinguished by its severity, the study – solemnity, and the empress’s chambers – special charm and charm.

Chambers of the Massandra Palace
Chambers of the Massandra Palace

The Massandra Palace is surrounded by a magnificent park, laid out in 1822 by the famous German gardener Karl Kebach, the creator of the Alupka Park. Lemons, figs, olives, oranges, junipers, cypresses, cedars and Crimean pines appeared in place of the oak-beech forest, paths, flower beds and statues were placed. Today the Massandra Palace and Park Complex is one of the best landscape parks in the world.

Massandra Palace Park
Massandra Palace Park

After the revolution, a sanatorium “Proletarskoe zdorovye” was opened in the building of the imperial residence for patients with tuberculosis, for some time after the war the Institute of Winemaking and Viticulture “Magarach” was located here, and since 1948 the Massandra Palace became a state dacha. Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev appreciated the solitude, beautiful landscape and cozy rooms of the imperial residence and often rested here with their families

Currently, there is a museum in the Massandra Palace, so everyone can see unique household items of the late 19th century and interior elements such as handmade chandeliers and fireplaces made of a solid piece of marble.

Perhaps, only the Kremlin chambers of Moscow and the palaces of St. Petersburg can be compared in beauty and splendor with the Crimean palaces. However, the charm of the palace complexes of the Crimean peninsula is given by the surrounding nature, picturesque parks and the aura of recreation, because these buildings were originally intended exclusively for the summer “vacation” of important persons.

All the palaces of Crimea are protected by the state, thousands of tourists visit them every year, so oblivion to these “business cards” of Crimea is not threatened yet.

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