Kerch

Kerch (Russian: Керчь), is a city (population 147,000) on the Kerch Peninsula of eastern Crimea. City - Hero of World War II.

Kerch, view from Mount Mithridates

Understand

Panticapaeum remains
Yenikale fortress
Fortress Kerch

Archeological digs at the area reveal it had already been inhabited in 17th–15th centuries BC. The city proper starts its history in 7th century BC, when Greek colonists from Miletus founded the city-state Panticapaeum on Mount Mithridates, near the mouth of the Melek-Chesme river. Panticapaeum subdued nearby cities and by 480 BC became a capital of the Kingdom of Bosporus. Later, during the rule of Mithradates VI Eupator, Panticapaeum for a short period of time became the capital of the much more powerful and extensive Kingdom of Pontus.

Located at the intersection of trade routes between the steppe and Europe, the city grew rapidly. Panticapaeum minted its own coins and exported grain, salted fish and wine. According to extant documents, the currently small and shallow Melek-Chesme river was navigable in Bosporan times, and sea galleys were able to enter the river. Panticapaeum and the Kingdom of Bosporus suffered from Ostrogoth raids in the 1st century AD, and were devastated by the Huns in AD 375. From the 6th century the city was under the control of the Byzantine Empire. By order of Emperor Justinian I, a citadel named Bospor was built there. The center of a diocese, it grew under the influence of Greek Christianity. In the 7th century, the Turkic Khazars took control of Bospor, and the city was renamed Karcha (from Turkic "karşı" meaning 'opposite, facing'). In the late 10th century, Khazaria fell to Kievan Rus' and Kerch became the centre of a successor-state. From the 10th century, the city was known as Korchev, a center of trade between Rus', Crimea, the Caucasus, and the East.

In the 13th century, Crimea including Korchev was invaded by Mongols. After that, the city became a Genoese colony named Cerco (Cherkio) in 1318. Townspeople fished and worked at salt-works.

In 1475, city was passed to the Ottoman Empire. During the Turkish rule Kerch fell into decay and served as a slave-market. It repeatedly suffered from raids of Zaporizhian Cossacks. By the times of Peter the Great, Russian military forces were reinforcing in the Azov sea area, and as a response, the Turks built the fortress Yenikale, near Kerch, on the shore of Kerch Strait. The fortress was completed by 1706. In 1771 the Imperial Russian Army, commanded by Grigorii Potemkin, invaded Crimea and approached Yenikale. The Turks decided to abandon the fortress. By the Peace Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji in 1774, Kerch and Yenikale were ceded to Russia.

Because of its location, from 1821 Kerch developed into an important trade and fishing port. An ironwork factory was built in 1846, based on a huge iron ore deposit found on Kerch Peninsula.

During the Crimean War the city was devastated by British forces in 1855.

From 1941 to 1945, Kerch was the site of heavy fighting between Soviet Army and Axis forces. After fierce fighting, the city was taken by the Germans in November 1941. On 30 December 1941, the Soviets recaptured Kerch in a naval landing operation. In 1942 the Nazis occupied the city again. The Red Army lost more than 160,000 men, either killed or taken POW at the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula. On 31 October 1943, another Soviet amphibious operation was launched, returning Kerch to Soviet control on 11 April 1944.

Get in

By train

There are long-distance sleeper trains from Kyiv (19–23 hours to go) and Moscow (24–28 hours).

Also Kerch has regional train connections with Simferopol, Dzhankoy and Mykolayiv (Nikolaev). Though these regional trains are cheap they are also slow.

By plane

The nearest international airport is located at Simferopol (220 km westward from Kerch). If you prefer air travel you can get to Kerch via Simferopol, follow these steps:

  1. Arrive at Simferopol International Airport. Now you should get to Simferopol Central Intercity Bus Station (Avtovokzal), there are two options:
    • Taxi. There are plenty of private cabs in front of the airport, but prices are usually not reasonable and many of the drivers are dishonest. You should always negotiate a price before you board a cab and make sure that this price is for the entire route (not for each kilometer)
    • Public transport. Take marshrutka bus #49 (bus stop is in the middle of the square in front of the airport). Price is written on paper sheets inside the bus (typically 2—3 hryvnias (UAH)). There are no tickets; just pass money to your driver. Usually it takes 25–35 minutes to get to Avtovokzal. Note: Avtovokzal is just an intermediate stop for marshrutka #49; don't miss this stop! Ask the driver or passengers if you are not sure where to exit (most of the locals do not speak English, but they should understand what Avtovokzal means). If you have a GPS device you can locate Avtovokzal by coordinates (44°56'55"N, 34° 7'34"E)
  2. Inside Avtovokzal's terminal buy a ticket to the nearest bus to Kerch. During the day, intercity buses to Kerch depart every 30–45 minutes. A ticket cost around 60 hryvnias as of 2011, plus a small additional fee if you have lots of luggage and need to use the bus's luggage compartment. Departure time, platform number, bus number and seat are printed on the ticket.
  3. Find your bus (it comes to the platform 15 minutes before departure)
  4. It takes about 4 hours to get to Kerch from Simferopol, usually with an intermediate 5-minute stop at Feodosia.

If you have both Russian and Ukrainian visas you can get to Kerch via the international airport in Krasnodar. There are international bus routes that connect Krasnodar and Crimea. It takes 4 hours to get from Krasnodar to Port Kavkaz, then up to a few hours (depends on queue size) to traverse Kerch Strait using Kerch ferry line and pass the Russian—Ukrainian border, then 30 minutes to get to Kerch Central Bus Station.

By bus

Kerch has frequent intercity bus connections with other destinations in Crimea and southern Ukraine.

There are also a few international bus routes that connect cities of Crimea, southern Ukraine with Krasnodar Krai in Russia.

Kerch ferry line

Kerch.Ferry line Crimea - Kavkaz

Kerch ferry line transports cars, passengers and cargo trains across Kerch Strait. The ferry line crosses Ukrainian—Russian border, so you'll have to pass border control procedures on both sides of Kerch Strait.

The Ukrainian harbor is Port Krym, located at eastern outskirts of Kerch. Port Krym is connected with Kerch Central Bus Station (Avtovokzal) by marshrutka bus line #1, #18 .

The ferry harbor on Russian side is Port Kavkaz that has an intercity bus connection with Krasnodar. It takes about 4 hours to get to Port Kavkaz from Krasnodar.

If you are travelling on your own car keep in mind that the ferry line is usually overloaded at summer due to a high season, you may spend up to 8 hours in a queue though the ferry transfer itself takes about 25 minutes. Ferry line may also not work during the sea storm.

Get around

All places near the city center are accessible by foot walk. If you need to get to a distant district or a sea beach on the outskirts then marshutka buses are your best friends. The price is usually written on a paper sheet inside the bus. Typical price is 2—3 hryvnias (UAH).

There are trolleybus lines in Kerch that connect Kerch Central Bus Station (Avtovokzal) with Kerch Train Terminal and Voykov Metal Works factory.

Taxis in Kerch typically cost 20 hryvnias minimum plus 3 hryvnias per kilometer (as of 2011). There are always a few cabs available at Kerch Central Bus Station.

Tel : +38 06561 6-26-26 ;

Tel : +38 06561 2-22-11 ; 6-00-00

See

Church of St John the Baptist, 8th century
The Great Mithridates Staircase and the Monument of Glory
Kerch.Main street.

Do

Eat

There is a wide selection of restaurants, cafe on the high street & around, although not all of them are open until late.

You can choose from a wide range of fresh fish. Smoked gobies (bychki vyalenye) is one of the most popular beings, particularly good with beer. At autumn & winter salted anchovy is available on the market.

For more info about cafe & restaurants in Kerch look here : http://resto-kerch.ru/

Drink

Crimea region is famous for its wines. Local wine stores offer a wide range of original Crimean wines.
Most famous local wine brands : Massandra, Inkerman, Magarach, Novy Svet, Koktebel e t.c.

Sleep

There are several hotels in the city. A number of summer resorts are located at the suburbs. At summer season many of the locals offer a house, flat or a room for rent.

Go next

Coast of Azov sea
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