Sevastopol

Sevastopol (Russian: Севастополь), also known as Sebastopol, is in Crimea.

Understand

View from the city centre to the Southern Bay of Sevastopol

Sevastopol is an important and historical port on the Black Sea. In Graeco-Roman times it was known as Chersonesus Taurica. This settlement was sacked by the Mongol Horde several times in the 13th and 14th centuries, and finally totally abandoned, only to be refounded in 1783 as the base of the Black Sea Navy of Russia. It was famously besieged by the British in the Crimean War. The unique geographic location and navigation conditions of the city's harbours make Sevastopol a very significant naval strategic stronghold, not unlike Gibraltar and Halifax. As the historic home port of the Soviet (and later the Russian) Navy's Black Sea Fleet, the city has always had a significant Russian naval presence. Before the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea, headquarters of both the Ukrainian Naval Forces and Russia's Black Sea Fleet were located in the city.

The population is largely ethnically Russian, so the population's sympathies still lie largely with Moscow rather than Kiev. Some city residents had strongly protested the visit of American naval ships and Ukrainian interest in joining the NATO alliance. The political orientation towards Moscow continues to define Crimea and Sevastopol.

It is also a popular seaside resort and tourist destination, mainly for visitors from the Commonwealth of Independent States countries. There are more than 30 bays within the bounds of the region. The total area of the city is 1079 km² - this is more than the territory of such city-states as Moscow, New York or Shanghai. The water area of the inner bays takes 216 km² of the total area.

There are more than 2 000 monuments in the city, a lot of historical places & museums, nice hotels & theatres, numerous parks & boulevards.

The major features of the city are on two streets, ulitsa Lenina and ulitsa Bolshoya Morskaya; there is a hill between them, on which is ulitsa Sovietska; there are numerous steps to get up and across the hill. Marshrutki (mini buses) tend to go up one of these streets and down the other; at the south end of ul. Lenina you can turn left to get to the train station and the bus-station.

Get in

The small Sevastopol International Airport has connections with Dnipropetrovsk, Kiev (for now suspended) and one international service from Moscow. The international airport in Simferopol is much better connected.

Sevastopol is rather poorly served by long-distance train but the nearby city of Simferopol is well-connected with many major cities in Eastern Europe and western Russia. With up to twenty connections each day between the two cities and a journey time of only two hours it's easy to get here by train. However, there is still a few direct long-distance overnight services. Moscow (24 h) have one daily train as well as Saint Petersburg (35 h). Domestic services are daily from Kiev (16 h) via Dnipropetrovsk (9 h), there is also a daily train from the eastern city of Donetsk (11 h).

Letters Sevastopol on Railroad Station

Get around

Getting around Sevastopol, on a day to day basis, is much like getting around many Ukrainian cities -- by foot, by mini-bus (marshrutka), and by city bus. Given the hilly terrain and circuitous routes created as Sevastopol grew around its bays and shoreline, walking is less likely to be efficient, especially after one leaves the city center.

Note that English maps and schedules for buses do not appear available (based on internet searching) and that one may need to depend on the word of citizens, operators, and fellow passengers to find the right route and stop. Buses and marshrutkas are economical, though often crowded, with marshrutkas being faster and slightly more expensive. Some travel sites (e.g., virtualtourist.com) contain comments recommending boats/skiffs that will take tourists to beaches and islands. Note that its much harder to get off boats if you realize you are on the wrong one and it is also difficult to leave a dicey location if the only transport is by boat.

Good road maps of the town (with street names in both Latin and Cyrillic characters) cost 7.5UAH from press kiosks.

Renting a car is a great way to experience Crimea without dealing with the often late and uncomfortable public transportation. Car rental is possible at many places, but the cheapest appears to be at Number 43 Proletariarskaya ulitsa at the southern end of the city. For 200 UAH per day (250km included) and a refundable 200 USD deposit, it is fairly easy to rent a car and enjoy the southern coast this way.

See

Sevastopol is a good jumping-off place to see some of the sites from the Crimean War. There are also many Soviet war memorials - Sevastopol is one of the thirteen Hero Cities of the Great Patriotic War. There is a large statue of Lenin, with soldiers, peasants and workers, on ulitsa Sovietska, which is the spine of the main section of the city. There is a statue of Admiral Nakhimov, who defeated the Turkish fleet and masterminded the defence of Sevastopol at the time of the Crimean War, in a square at the head of the main part of the city.

Chersonessus Basilica
The foggy bell of Chersonesos

Do

Buy

There are lots of boutiques on Bolshoy Morskoy Str. if you want fashionable clothes. Debit and credit cards are accepted in most shops in the city, but not accepted in markets. There are a lot of ATMs.

Eat

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

This is a major naval port, there are lots of places selling beer and other drinks scattered around the city.

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Connect

Places with Wi-Fi in the city center:

Respect

Sevastopol was a closed city during the Soviet period. Residents, as in other ethnic Russian areas, are not impressed with foreigners who have no appreciation or understanding of their language and culture. Probably fewer than 20 percent of the locals have a working knowledge of English and only about ten percent of those CARE to speak English with foreigners who assume that English is widely understood in former Soviet republics. If, on the other hand, you have bothered to master a basic understanding of Russian and show a little humility, Sevastopol locals, like Russians elsewhere, will often go out of their way to communicate with you, most often by adapting their speech as if they were speaking to a five year old or whatever your level is.

Sevastopol, like most any ethnic Russian town, is a challenge, but certainly worth the attempt for all interested in its unique charm and war history.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.